Jigsaw, unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has launched a new Android app called Intra to protect users against DNS (domain name system) manipulation.
DNS is the phonebook of internet, that helps computers know about the servers connected to domains. Generally, the connection between a computer and DNS is unencrypted. This can allow attackers to interrupt the traffic and manipulate it.
If the attackers manipulate the DNS, they can block websites, prevent users from access messaging apps and social channels, or even redirect them to malicious websites.
Several governments use DNS manipulation to restrict citizens from accessing certain information. They sometimes shut down the internet in specific areas, restrict media houses to publish certain content, and overwhelm servers with fake traffic.
According to a recent study, Venezuela government used DNS manipulation for blocking news websites, social media applications and media organizations. Such tactics are on the rise around the world.
Intra will address these issues by encrypting the connection to DNS. It is an easy to use Android app, which can be downloaded from Google Play Store. Once installed and turned on, no one can manipulate the DNS or see the websites visited by users.
Justin Henck and Ben Schwartz, Intra’s product and technical leads, mentioned in a blog post that DNS manipulation has become a widespread issue. The latest version of Android features DNS protection by default.
“But billions of people around the world use older versions of Android that lack this critical feature. Intra gives them the similar state-of-the-art protection.”
Intra currently supports public DNS services from Google and Cloudflare, and will add more options over time. An open source application, Intra doesn’t track the applications and websites visited by users. Furthermore, it allows users to customize the DNS provider.
This app will especially be useful for users in countries where DNS manipulation is a common censorship technique.
“In a perfect world, the Domain Name System would be encrypted by default for everyone, everywhere, and we’re working to make that happen. But in the meantime, everyone deserves access to a free and simple tool that makes this pervasive form of censorship obsolete,” added Justin Henck and Ben Schwartz.