Published On: Fri, Nov 17th, 2017

Tech giants unveil new service to strengthen online privacy and security

IBM, Packet Clearing House and Global Cybersecurity Alliance launch Quad9 with strong presence in Africa and the Caribbean

Quad 9 LogoNEW YORK - Hard as you try to protect your privacy and stay safe online, certain major Internet industry players routinely collect and store your personally identifiable information and resell it wholesale to online marketers or other commercial data brokers.

Big Tech does this by exploiting DNS (Domain Name Service), a core element of Internet infrastructure which translates machine-readable IP addresses into human-readable names, much in the way that a phone book matches telephone numbers to people's names.

The practice of harvesting Internet users' private data is hardly new. Many of the larger Internet service providers collect and analyse user data for purposes that end-users are not aware of. But a new coalition of major Internet stakeholders have announced a global initiative to tackle the issue head-on.

IBM, Packet Clearing House and the Global Cybersecurity Alliance on November 16 launched a free, public, global recursive DNS resolver, which has privacy and security features built-in. The aptly named Quad9 uses the IP address 9.9.9.9. The service can be enabled with a few simple changes to network settings, which are outlined on the Quad9 website.

John Todd, executive director of Quad9, said the new service is specifically engineered not to collect, correlate or leverage user data.

"We are a not-for-profit organisation. Our goal is not to monetise our users' data. We get privacy through a number of mechanisms. The first and most important is that we are not ourselves collecting and monetising data about people who use the service. So there's no data that can be sold or stolen," Todd said.

Not only will Quad9 help Internet users to keep their browsing habits private, but it also promises to help Internet users avoid millions of malicious websites. It allows users to select what level of security they prefer.

"We have both a secure and unsecured service, the latter being for more advanced users who may have specific reasons they want to get to malware or phishing sites, or who want to perform testing against an unfiltered DNS recursive resolver," Todd said.

Quad9 can also be extended to smart devices such as connected home appliances or other gadget in the Internet of Things (IoT), which are also vulnerable to hackers.

What differentiates Quad9 from other similar services is the extent of its global network—100 points of presence in 59 countries. Their infrastructure extends from the heavily networked parts of North America, Europe and Asia to less well-connected regions in the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. Because the recursive resolvers are that close to the end-user base, latency is reduced. Todd said Quad9 points of presence will continue to spread, further improving the speed and performance, privacy and security for users globally.

The service was launched with simultaneous events in London, Maputo and New York.

By Gerard Best

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