This blog was initially published on Oct. 23, 2015. On Nov. 2, 2020, Neustar announced the acquisition of Verisign’s Public DNS. Further information can be found here.
We’ve all seen the check boxes. They’re hidden at the bottom of webpages. You can’t ignore them, but sometimes you forget they are there. They offer to send you deals and coupons. Some even offer to connect you with their partners for similar benefits. Do you check the box?
In these situations you are given a choice of how you want your personal information used. These sites provide the option to trade some of your personal information for a future benefit. If you decide to opt in, your personal information will be transferred, traded or sold to others, and in exchange you will receive something in return, i.e., 10 percent off your next purchase, advance notice of upcoming events, a free gift, etc. If you opt out, you will receive nothing. Regardless of the return, you were given a choice; opt in and receive a benefit for the use of your personal information, or opt out and be content that your personal information won’t be sold.
DNS & Your Data
As I discussed in a recent blog post, the Domain Name System (DNS) is involved in nearly every transaction conducted on the Internet. It translates your online requests into a set of navigation instructions to get you to the right location or website. It is also one of the richest data sources about your online activities.
Recursive DNS is a critical component of the overall DNS ecosystem. The average Web page will perform between 10 and 15 DNS queries a day, which means that the average household will perform between 1,000 and 1,500 DNS queries a day. Many people unknowingly use a recursive DNS service provided by their Internet Service Provider (ISP) as this is often the default for many systems, or use another cloud recursive provider. But, they don’t realize that by using these services, they may unknowingly be opted in to having their DNS query data – which shows their online activity – potentially collected and used by their provider.
If you are skeptical, consider this: earlier this year, a major ISP launched an interesting program; they “offered data privacy, but for a price.” This ISP would “track users as they surf the Web” and use “the data it collects to help advertisers target ads on Web pages, email messages or direct mail.” What’s important to note here is that this ISP provided their subscribers the ability to “opt out of being monitored.” If your ISP does not provide you with the capability to opt out of having your DNS data collected, then chances are they may be doing just that – collecting your DNS data.
So, what can you do?
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and this year marks the fifth anniversary of the “STOP.THINK.CONNECT” campaign. We encourage you to stop and think about the consequences of your actions and behaviors online, specifically as it relates to privacy and security. Earlier this year, Wired posted an article entitled, “Privacy and Security in the Internet Age.” It gives a good explanation of how privacy and security are intertwined and how things will change over the next decade as we continue to digitize every aspect of our lives. One fairly simple way to help ensure that the information you don’t want shared about your digital life remains private is to opt out of having your DNS data collected by switching to Verisign Public DNS.
Verisign Public DNS Respects Your Privacy
To take advantage of Verisign Public DNS, just configure your device to use our public DNS addresses:
If you are unsure about how to do this, check out our configuration instructions at Verisign.com/PublicDNS or visit our online user forum to learn more.