What is DNS blocking and why does your operator use it?
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What is DNS blocking and why does your operator use it?

Today we are going to explain what DNS blocking is and why your operator uses it to block access to a web page. Once again, a court ruling has ordered the closure of several download pages, and as always the most advanced users talk about the ineffectiveness of the method with which these pages are usually blocked by the operators.

If on more occasions you have heard of these blocks but you have not fully understood how they work, today we are going to try to explain it in the simplest possible way. We will also mention why this type of blocking is usually not effective, and also how some operators try to go a little further without being too successful either.

What are DNS

DNS (Domain Name System) servers are one of the essential technologies for Internet browsing, and they usually come preconfigured in the routers provided by the operators. When you enter a website, such as Xataka.com, DNS servers are responsible for translating that web address into an IP address, so that your computer knows exactly which server it has to connect to in order to access the page’s contents.

Since your Internet provider or ISP gives you a router with a preconfigured DNS, it can always know when you connect what your IP is and who exactly you are . Furthermore, when a government forces them to block access to certain pages, this is done by limiting DNS access.

And it is precisely here where the use of alternative DNS comes into play . Your computer allows you to change the DNS , and by doing so you can improve your privacy , allowing you to bypass these regional blocks that try to impose themselves by precisely limiting access to those used by operators.

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In addition to all this, there are third party DNS that are advertised promising higher speeds or privacy , so the response time of your computer when searching for pages could be improved. They can also be used to add an extra layer of security with which to prevent, for example, DDoS attacks .

Beyond avoiding censorship and making extra layers of security against attacks, they are not as effective in preventing your operator from knowing where you are browsing . This is so because DNS is a protocol without encryption, and both operators and VPNs can read where you move with it. Therefore, think of these services as an extra layer of security that you can complement with others and not as a definitive solution.

What is a DNS block

DNS blocking is one of the most used by most operators, which is when the operator’s DNS servers do not respond when asked about the blocked domain . As we have seen, DNS is the one that translates the name of the websites to an IP address, which means that they block the fact that you can translate the address of a website that you are looking for.

Keep in mind that when you have the router of your operator, by default its DNS is configured, so that when accessing the Internet through it, the operator can control where you can access. In this way, if the translation of the search Xataka.com is blocked in your DNS, since you cannot receive the IP to which your computer connects, you cannot enter the web.

This measure is not the most effective in the world, since it can be circumvented with relative ease simply by changing the DNS of the device with which you connect so as not to use that of your operator. Here at Xataka Basics we have already explained how to change DNS in Windows 10 and how to do it in Android .

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Why is this lock still used?

Although it is ineffective with more advanced users or to block specific pages that arouse great interest, in the rest of cases it is usually quite different. Many users are not going to stop to watch how to bypass the block when they really do not understand what is being blocked and how, and even if they do, some may be intimidated by a process that is not so simple.

In addition, it should also be borne in mind that today there are alternatives to practically any website, so when you decide to block one, many users find it easier to simply find the best alternative than to look at the configuration of their device, understand what it’s DNS and how they can change them. Come on, in the end they are used because for a large part of users it is still effective.

And beyond the reason why they opt for this type of blockade is the reason why it is done. When an operator blocks access to a website, it is because the competent authorities have requested it . Come on, if a court ruling orders the blocking of a web page, operators have to do it.

Another very different issue is how useful these locks are . In most cases there are always more or less simple ways to skip them, and if not, you will always have alternatives. In any case, as we have said, it is still an effective alternative considering that many less experienced users will not directly attempt to bypass the block unless they really want to use that website.

Do all operators use this lock?

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Most operators in Spain use this blocking by DNS, although some of them try to go a little more to improve it. An example is Vodafone’s Castor system , which in addition to DNS also looks at some data on the websites you visit to see if you are trying to access one whose closure has been ordered.

What they do for this is look at the IP addresses and HTTP headers of the pages you want to access. These headers are the ones that indicate the name of the pages you want to access, so they are used as a check to prevent you from accessing, for example, Xataka.

However, this is not a completely secure method either, at least when pages use the HTTPS protocol . This type of encryption protects the connections between your computer and the page you visit, and among the data that is not shown is that of the HTTP request. To this we must add that other secure browsing methods such as proxies or VPN also help to skip this type of block.

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