Switch to Quad 9 DNS to protect your Mac when using the internet

The security of your computer can be increasing by switching to a better DNS server, such as Quad 9

The Apple Mac is safer on the internet than some computers and it is immune to many threats, but it is not completely safe and there are still risks. Quad 9 DNS reduces those risks.

The rise of Mac malware

Malware on the Mac? Surely not! Some people will flat out deny the Mac gets malware, but the truth is that is does exist and some people do get caught out. The amount of malware is tiny compare to that on Windopws PCs, but it is growing ever faster.

The first three quarters of 2017 have seen over 70 % increase in malware targeting Macs and 50 % increase in PUA (potentially unwanted applications, such as adware) compared to the previous year (source: F-Secure Labs)

Mac Malware found by F-Secure
F-secure: The Volume of Mac Malware

What is DNS?

Your home address is unique and no-one else in the world has it. This means I can send you letters and you can send me letters, because I also have a unique address too. We can communicate to with each other no matter where in the world we are.

Computers, phones and tablets are the same and each one has a unique address so that one computer, such as your Mac, can communicate with another one, like a web server, anywhere in the world. The communication takes place over the internet and instead of exchanging paper-based letters, computers exchange packets of information.

Computers are number crunchers and everything they do boils down to manipulating numbers. Each computer connected to the internet is therefore given a unique IP address, which is a set of numbers like 172.217.23.46.

Do you recognise those numbers? It s unlikely, even though they are the address of Google. Type them into a browser and you’ll see the Google home page.

It is much easier for people to remember names like google.com than 172.217.23.46, so DNS (Domain Name Service) converts URLs into IP addresses. When you type a URL into a browser, it is sent to a DNS server, which sends back the IP address. The computer then knows which website you want to connect to.

Quad 9 DNS

A DNS server is basically a database of URLs and their corresponding IP addresses and the Mac uses one constantly as you browse the web to fetch web pages, images adverts, videos, music, and everything else on the web.

Quad 9 has analysed 40 billion web pages and images for malware and flagged them in its DNS database. This enables it to block requests for those malicious IP addresses from computers that use its DNS server.

If the Mac uses Quad 9 for its DNS, it is protected from these malicious websites and access to the malware is blocked.

By default, the Mac uses your ISP’s DNS servers, which probably does not have any protection at all, so you could inadvertently connect to a website with malware. However, switching to Quad 9 DNS increases the security of your Mac by blocking bad URLs and IP addresses.

Who is Quad 9?

Quad 9 was founded by IBM, Packet Clearing House and Global Cyber Alliance. You may not have heard of the second two, but IBM’s involvement with security is massive. It monitors 35 billion security events every day, amongst other things.

Quad 9 has many partners too, such as F-Secure.

Set your DNS to Quad 9

Basically Quad 9 acts as a filter, blocking access to the bad stuff on the internet. It is free and it takes only a minute to set up, with no software required. It can be reversed in even less time too.

1. Open System Preferences

Open System Preferences on the Apple Mac

2. Click the Network icon

System Preferences on the Apple Mac

3. Click the Advanced button

Network configuration in System Preferences on the Apple Mac

4. Select the DNS tab

DNS settings in the Network section of System Preferences on the Apple Mac

5. Enter the IP address 9.9.9.9

Set the DNS server in Network settings in System Preferences on the Apple Mac

Click OK and then Apply. Close System Preferences and that’s it, you are now protected from malicious URLs because Quad 9 is filtering them out.

Remove Quad 9 DNS

If you want to remove Quad 9 DNS and return to the DNS servers you were using before:

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Click the Network icon
  3. Click the Advanced button
  4. Select the DNS tab
  5. Select and delete the 9.9.9.9 IP address
  6. Click OK and then Apply

When nothing is in the DNS box, the default DNS is used. The Mac automatically gets this from the router or ISP. Therefore deleting everything returns to normal.

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