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This syndicated post originally appeared at Network World Zeus Kerravala.

Domain Name Systems have too much access to
personal information that can be used against you.

Credit: Thinkstock

When it comes to domain name systems (DNS), there are a lot of choices available. Yesterday, Verisign introduced a free, public Domain Name System (DNS) service that respects users’ privacy.

I think we’re all aware now that much of the information we put into websites is often sold and used for good and bad purposes. We search for certain restaurants and all of sudden we’re being pushed coupons for it. We update our LinkedIn profile and now we’re being approached about jobs at competing companies. When we purchase an item online with a credit card, the number may be stolen. Even though there are risks, we still do those activities because they make our lives more convenient, and for that we’re willing to deal with the consequences.

However, there’s another side to the Internet where the data from our DNS usage is sold to organizations without consent. There’s literally nothing you can do on the Internet today that doesn’t require a DNS lookup. Make a VoIP call, look up directions, search for products, post something on Facebook, it doesn’t matter – when you do something on the Internet, DNS servers record it. DNS is one of the richest data sources available regarding online activities, making it highly sought-after from a data analytics perspective. If you want a sense of how rich this data is, simply look at your browser’s history and that will give you an idea of what you did today, and even what you were thinking at certain times of the day. Now, imagine being able to go a level deeper. Imagine that information in the hands of ad resellers or spammers.

What do your DNS providers do with this data? Do they respect your data privacy? This data is sold to many organizations to change the way they interact with you. Sure, there are positive implications, as a travel company might be able to recommend a destination that you may not have thought of before, but hypothetically, what if your auto insurance company hiked your rates because you changed jobs and now you have a longer commute? Or your life insurance company canceled your policy because you search the term “sky diving lessons”? That’s information that you didn’t voluntarily give up, and yet it’s being used against you. No respect!

Verisign’s Public DNS is a recursive service that’s free and respects your privacy, since Verisign will not sell your DNS data to third parties. In addition to the privacy aspect, it’s worth noting that Verisign is the registry to .com and .net registrations and has provided authoritative DNS services for .com and .net for over 18 years at 100% accuracy and stability. That’s a tremendous amount of experience in running a highly reliable service that is essential to your everyday Internet interactions.

In a conversation with Michael Kaczmarek, Sr. Director of Product Management at Verisign, he did tell me that Verisign would use the data internally to better understand Internet trends and overall usage patterns to enhance and improve the services Verisign provides.

In case you’re wondering what the IP addresses of the DNS severs are, they are:

  • 64.6.64.6
  • 64.6.65.6

And the company listed configuration instructions here.

I have a relationship with Verisign through ZK Research.
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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.

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