Can changing your DNS settings bypass the Government’s website-blocking regime?
The recent passing of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 has caused quite a stir. For some, it’s a sad end to Australia’s only way around our murky backwater media landscape, and for others it’s simply a waste of Government time and funds. Because, as anyone who recognises the acronyms VPN and DNS knows, the website-blocking bill will do nothing to stop Australians from accessing the website they wish to.
Though we don’t know all the details of the government's plan to block websites that infringe on the rights of copyright holders, the most likely (and least expensive) option would be to have Australian ISPs 'spoof' or 'poison' their Domain Name Systems – sending a dummy ISP, like 0.0.0.0, back to your browser, resulting in a timed out resolve. From a user’s point of view, this would appear as a 'timed out request' when trying to access targeted websites like Pirate Bay.
That only seems like the most likely option right now because further measures like Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) could prove a costly endeavour for the Australian Government. The other option is IP blocking, a method that has proven in the past to run the risk of unintentionally blocking websites not targeted by the Australian government.
The thing is, if DNS spoofing or 'poisoning' is the avenue Australian ISPs decide to take with when the website-blocking bill is in full force, then Australian users should have no trouble bypassing their attempts to block certain website with a few slight changes to their devices’ DNS settings – a practice that may not be familiar to most Australian Internet users, but one that is easily learned and can be completed in under 60 seconds.
Australian broadband consumers will likely be fronting the costs incurred by ISPs for implementing website blocking measures and our taxpayers’ dollars have already footed the costs involved with introducing this new Online Infringement Bill so the introduction of costly DPI measures would be a bit of a kick in the teeth for Australians.
For now, yes, it is more than likely that website blocking will be easily circumvented by using an alternate DNS server, the real question is: How much money will Australians have to fork out to protect the wallets of rights holders?Back to top
What is a DNS?
Domain Name Servers (DNS) are essentially a directory for the internet that holds domain names (e.g. finder.com.au) and translates them to Internet Protocol (IP addresses). We use domain names, like google.com or facebook.com, because they are easy for users to remember but what your computer actually accesses when visiting your favourite sites is an IP address.
Behind the scenes, a DNS operates kind of like a phonebook, by matching domain names with their associated IP address. When you type a URL into the address bar, the computer makes contact with your DNS server and requests the IP address associated with that website– allowing your computer to retrieve the IP address and display the website in your web-browser.
Generally, we use default DNS servers supplied by our chosen Internet Service Provider but there are other options such as OpenDNS and Google DNS. Depending on server location, changing your DNS can either slow down or speed up your internet connection. You can even filter out unsavoury content by using a DNS.Back to top
How do I use an alternate DNS?
You will need to manually change the DNS in the network settings on your device. We’ve got guides on how to change your DNS settings on every device, but first, let’s take a look at the most popular alternate DNS services.
Google DNS: The Internet giant that keeps on giving, Google, have their very own DNS service that’s proven popular thanks to its speeds, performance and uncompromised security. You can use Google DNS right now by entering the primary and secondary DNS below:
- Primary: 188.8.131.52
- Secondary: 184.108.40.206
OpenDNS: OpenDNS is the most popular DNS in the United States. Based in San Francisco, this tech company provides the best service for organisations, like schools, looking to effectively filter their content and prevent unintended access to inappropriate website or damaging malware. You can use OpenDNS today by entering the DNS values below:
- Primary: 220.127.116.11
- Secondary: 18.104.22.168
How to change DNS settings on...
- Open the Settings app
- Select WiFi
- Locate the WiFi connection you’re currently using
- Tap the button
- Scroll down to the DNS field
- Enter an alternate DNS (e.g. Google’s Public DNS: 22.214.171.124)
- Select Settings
- Under Wireless and Networks select WiFi (the word WiFi, not the on/off switch)
- Press and hold your current or preferred wireless network. A dialogue box will appear.
- Tap Modify Network
- Check the Show Advanced Options box
- Select Static for IP Settings
- Leave the IP address, Gateway and Network as they already are
- Enter the DNS server you would like to use into the appropriate fields (DNS 1 and DNS 2)
- Press Save
- Open Settings from the home screen or apps menu.
- Select WiFi
- Select your current or preferred WiFi network
- On the next page (Network Settings), make sure 'Configure network settings manually…' is switched On.
- Enter your desired DNS settings in the appropriate field.
- Select Done
- Open System Preferences
- Ensure that you’re connected to the WiFi network that you would like to adjust the DNS settings for.
- Select the DNS tab towards the top of the window.
- Press the button under 'DNS servers'.
- Add the DNS server that you would like to use.
- Press OK, then Apply on the next screen.
- Move the mouse to the bottom or top-right corner of the screen.
- Click on the cog to access the Settings menu.
- Select the Control Panel tab.
- Select Network and Sharing Centre.
- Select Change Adapter settings on the left of the screen.
- Right-click on your current or preferred WiFi network.
- Select Properties.
- Check Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCIP/IPv4) in the dialogue box.
- Select the Properties.
- Check Use the following DNS server to enable changes to the DNS server
- Enter your desired DNS server into Preferred DNS server and a secondary DNS in Alternate DNS server.
- Select OK (this will save your settings)
- Access the Wii U menu
- Select System Settings
- Navigate to the internet icon using the left stick and press the A button.
- Press the X button or tap Connections in the top right corner.
- Select the current or preferred WiFi network you would like to configure.
- Select Change Settings.
- Select the arrow on the right and tap DNS.
- Select Don’t Auto-Obtain.
- Enter your desired Primary DNS and Secondary DNS servers in their appropriate fields.
- Select Confirm.
- Be sure to select Save before exiting
- On the PS4 home screen, select Settings.
- Select Network
- Select Setup Internet Connection
- Select WiFi
- Select Custom, then IP Address Settings (Automatic).
- Select DHCP Host Name (Do Not Use), then DNS Settings(Manual)
- Enter your desired Primary DNS and Secondary DNS
- Hit Next, then MTU Settings (Automatic), Proxy Server (Do Not Use)
- From the homescreen, visit Settings.
- Select Network
- Select Advanced Settings
- Select DNS Settings
- Select Manual
- Enter the Primary DNS and Secondary DNS into the appropriate fields