TCP/IP protocol suite

Is OpenNIC a reliable DNS service?

A computer networking DNS questionI was asked the question, "Is OpenNIC a reliable DNS service?" As a systems administrator on a private network, being able to create and customize a DNS server adds some management features that would not apply to the average home based web surfer.

This question was asked with the reason for using OpenNIC is to add an extra layer of privacy to your web browsing. The belief, or perhaps paranoia, is that DNS servers are able to log your requests, and by doing so they have a record of sites you have visited. The question is asked in the context that your DNS provided by your ISP is a source to track where you have been on the internet, and by using an alternative DNS service that eliminates that extra potential layer of tracking, thereby creating more privacy.

If you want to start playing around with alternative DNS solutions you need to understand the risks as well as the benefits.

First let's take a quick look at the definition of DNS (Domain Naming Service)

  • DNS is a distributed database of Domain Names and their corresponding IP Addresses.
  • DNS makes it possible to attach hard to remember IP addresses to easy to remember domain names
  • DNS translates between meaningful host names and IP addresses. It is a hierarchical naming system used to give each server on the Internet a unique name.
  • DNS keeps a complete listing of all FQDNs (Fully qualified domain names) and their associated IP address.

The evolution of the Internet and the birth of TCP/IP

During the 1970s Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf would collaborate as key members of a team to create the building blocks of the modern internet TCP/IP.The creation of the protocol suite TCP/IP as the basic set of rules for computers to communicate was one of the last major phases in the development of this global network we now call the Internet.

The internet was not something born of a single idea, but rather a gradual evolution, and the work of many people over many years.

The idea started with a vision to create a decentralized computer network, whereby every computer was connected to each other, but if one member of the systems was hit, the others would remain unaffected.

From the initial idea of a decentralized computer network came the concept of packet switching. During the 1960s Paul Baran developed the concept of packet switching networks while conducting research at the historic RAND organization.

Computer networking packet switching explained in simple terms

Packet switching explained in simple termsThroughout the standard for Internet Protocol you will see the description of packet switching, "fragment and reassemble internet datagrams when necessary for transmission through small packet networks." A message is divided into smaller parts know as packets before they are sent. Each packet is transmitted individually and can even follow different routes to its destination. Once all the packets forming a message arrive at the destination, they are recompiled into the original message.

Internet data, whether in the form of a Web page, a downloaded file or an e-mail message, travels over a system known as a packet-switching network. Each of these packages gets a wrapper that includes information on the sender's address, the receiver's address, the package's place in the entire message, and how the receiving computer can be sure that the package arrived intact.

There are two huge advantages to the packet switching. The network can balance the load across various pieces of equipment on a millisecond-by-millisecond basis. If there is a problem with one piece of equipment in the network while a message is being transferred, packets can be routed around the problem, ensuring the delivery of the entire message.

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