Getty Images / Galeanu Mihai
DNS stands for Domain Name Service and is the heart of the internet. DNS makes it so that you don’t have to enter an IP address to get where you want to go. Without DNS, you would have to remember an address like 22.214.171.124 instead of just typing “Google” into your browser. In other words, DNS makes the Internet user-friendly. Your desktop, laptop, tablet and even your phone need DNS to function properly.
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Almost everything you do on your connected devices starts with a DNS query. So when you’re looking in the address bar of your web browser or in almost any app on your mobile device, DNS is at work.
The problem is that standard DNS is not secure, which means that all your requests are sent over the network in clear text.
Why is this a problem? Suppose you are on a public network (e.g. in a coffee shop) and you are looking for different things on your Android device. Or maybe you need to access a CMS or other work tool and don’t want the public to know the address you’re entering. If someone else is on the same network and has the skills, they could intercept your searches (or the URLs you’re visiting) and know exactly what you’re looking for. This can be harmless or it could be harmful. Anyway, why take a risk?
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This is where private DNS mode comes into play. Once you enable this feature, all your DNS queries will be encrypted so that attackers cannot see them (even if they intercept those packets). In other words, private DNS mode should be an absolute must for anyone who values privacy and security.
But how to enable private DNS mode on Android? It’s actually pretty simple. Let me show you how.
The only thing you need to enable private DNS mode is an Android device with at least version 9 of the operating system (which was released in 2018). Pretty much every modern Android phone can enable this feature.
How to enable private DNS mode on Android
Open the Settings app (either from the notification bar or the app drawer), then tap Network & Internet.
You’ll find the entry for Private DNS near the bottom of the Network & Internet window. If you don’t find it, go back to the main Settings page and look for Private DNS.
The Private DNS entry is in the Network & Internet section of the Settings app.
Image: Jack Wallen
This is where things can get a little tricky. You need the address of a provider that offers Private DNS. Here is my provider of choice:
Some other possible hostnames you can use:
Google DNS: dns.googleQuad9: dns.quad9.netCleanbrowsing DNS: security-filter-dns.cleanbrowsing.orgOpenDNS: 126.96.36.199NextDNS: 188.8.131.52Comodo Secure 184.108.40.206OpenNIC: 220.127.116.11
Note: While any of the free DNS services above are worth trying, I would recommend going with Cloudflare (1dot1dot1dot1.cloudflare-dns.com). I find it the fastest and safest of all. In addition to speed, Cloudflare adds DNS filtering, which can help ensure emails aren’t sent from malicious IP addresses.
When you tap Private DNS, a new pop-up window will appear. Tap Private DNS provider hostname, and then enter the hostname for the DNS provider of your choice.
Figure 2: Adding a private DNS provider for Android.
Image: Jack Wallen
You can also select Automatic, which automatically switches to Google’s private DNS when it’s available. For those who aren’t quick to trust Google for such a feature, I would recommend selecting Private DNS and then entering the address for the provider of your choice. Tap Save to save the new setting and close the Settings app.
And that’s all there is to it. Once you enable Private DNS on Android, you can rest assured that all your DNS queries are encrypted. Enjoy this extra privacy and security.