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The Basics of DNS Filtering: What It Is and How It Works

The internet is now an indispensable part of modern life. It provides us with limitless amounts of content, information, entertainment, and communication. With that being said, we need to acknowledge the fact that the Internet also hosts malicious websites and inappropriate content. In order to protect organizations, DNS filtering is here to block access to these websites. 

DNS filtering mitigates the risk of data breaches and other security incidents by intercepting domain name system requests before they are processed by the browser. In this article, we will provide an in-depth look at what is DNS filtering, how it works, and what are some of the use cases. Since online security threats are a hot topic in today’s digital landscape, we believe understanding DNS filtering is critical. 

What is DNS Filtering

DNS filtering refers to the process of intercepting domain name system requests based on a database in order to prevent access to malicious websites and other types of content. To explain, the domain name system (DNS) is an integral part of the web structure that allows us to visit websites with their domain names. 

On the Internet, all websites are defined by their IP addresses, but it would be impossible for us to remember the numerical values of every website we visit daily. To make it easier for the users, the domain name system was introduced so we can simply type in www. (website name).com and visit the website we want. 

When a user requests a website, the DNS server matches the domain name with the IP address and then processes the request. This means that in the end, the user accesses the website and sees the content. 

The DNS filtering system is placed between the DNS server and the user, making it applicable at the network layer. When the user makes their requests, the DNS filtering system intercepts them before it is sent to the server. It then decides whether the request can be accepted or not based on a set of policies and a database of websites. 

DNS filtering can be used for several users; to prevent access to infected websites, block malicious scripts of codes within them, and block inappropriate content. You can think of it as one big child lock where there is a number of websites or categories that are not allowed. 

When compared to other forms of network filtering, DNS filtering solutions offer a more scalable, practical, and easy-to-use way to protect a private network. Operating at the resolution and network level, DNS is much faster to intervene and with less impact to the overall network. 

Types of DNS Filtering

Content Filtering

DNS filtering solutions are used to prevent access to harmful content on the Internet, including but not limited to gambling websites, adult content, or social media. They work based on categories and block access when it deems a website inappropriate. 

Malware and Phishing Protection

DNS filters are widely used as a protection against malware and phishing attacks. There are thousands of websites that host malware or those that imitate reputable brands, which is how phishing is done. Using real-time threat detection and reputation-based databases, DNS filtering blocks access to infected, unknown, or unfriendly websites. 

Ad-blocking

Another purpose to use DNS filtering is to block unwanted ads on websites. Filters can be used to block requests to websites that are known to display on-site advertisements. These ads can be distracting and decrease the user experience, so DNS filtering is a great option to get rid of them. 

Parental Controls

As a more commercial type of DNS filtering, this ability allows parents to protect their children from harmful and inappropriate content on the internet. Without the use of such tools, children have an uncontrolled online experience full of adult content and gambling websites. Parental control through DNS filtering can provide them with a safer environment. 

Advantages of DNS Filtering

Obviously, the most prominent advantage of DNS filtering for organizations is protection against malicious attacks. By blocking access at the network level, users are effectively protected from malware on websites and phishing traps. This ability improves the overall security of any kind of organization. 

Another important benefit of DNS filtering is the increase in productivity. This tool is also used to prevent distractive websites such as social media platforms, which are not preferred during work time. If the users are not able to visit such platforms, it is expected that they will spend their time on more important tasks. 

Lastly, DNS filtering offers organizations better control of their network usage and more effective monitoring. Since filtering goes through all the DNS requests without any exemption, network admins have the ability to see all user activities and use this to enhance their security measures. 

Conclusion

DNS filtering is a great tool for any web-based organization that wants to be protected against website-based threats. From low levels of productivity to significant phishing and malware risks, DNS filtering can be the cure for common security threats. To keep up with emerging threats and have a dynamic system to fight them, implement DNS filtering into your network. 

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