If you’ve spent time building your online presence, you’ve probably come across the letters “DNS” a few times. It’s another one of those three-letter tech terms (like SSL, SEO, ISP, AOL, etc.) you see here and there and perhaps ignore, especially if you’re not very tech-savvy.
DNS stands for Domain Name Service and is an essential architectural component of the Internet itself. Even without fully understanding the scope of its function, it’s essential to know why a premium DNS plan helps everyone from big businesses to personal bloggers do more and worry less when it comes to web security.
In this post, we’ll explain some of the reasons a great website needs to have great DNS. Your site’s security and, believe it or not, the security of the Internet depends on it.
Not Just Another Acronym
First, here are the basics you need to know about the Domain Name System, or DNS. First, it’s important to remember that there’s a lot about Internet traffic that happens behind the scenes. Computers speak mainly numerical languages, while humans prefer words. At various stages in any web function, translation needs to happen so one isn’t completely confused by the other. Some helpful background on what makes a domain a domain can be found here.
- DNS could be considered the “backbone of the Internet.”
- DNS works like a transfer station that handles requests for domain addresses, or “queries.” It converts these textual queries (like “namecheap.com,” written so that humans can understand) into the corresponding IP addresses for that domain (a number series like 22.214.171.124 that computers use), and then back again when they resolve in your browser.
- DNS basically makes sure communication happens computer to computer, human to computer, and (arguably the very point of the Internet) human to human.
Domain name servers affect all online business within the context of three main categories: speed, redundancy, and security:
- Speed – Everyone hates a slow-loading website, right? DNS queries have a gigantic influence on load times. Slow queries lead to slow site speed which can, in turn, affect search engine rankings.
- Redundancy – Redundant systems ensure that if one DNS fails, another is available. This is vital for a site’s uptime, or how readily your website is available to visitors.
- Security – A secure DNS greatly reduces the severity of attacks on your resources.
The levels of speed, redundancy, and security of any DNS will vary depending on what type you have. More on that in a moment.
When Hackers Attack
Great, so now you know what DNS is.
But how is this system a target for my website and the entire Internet? you ask. It seems so boring and utilitarian.
Before your eyes glaze over and you go back to more glamorous tasks like browsing WordPress themes, remember the important lesson we all learned from the destruction of the Death Star in Star Wars: the most attractive target is often the one that’s so boring and utilitarian that it’s left unguarded. So you must stay vigilant!
The most common type of attack upon a DNS is called a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack. DDoS attacks essentially involve using a bunch of fake queries (think those annoying spammy robocalls times a million) to intentionally overwhelm a server or system. Even the most robust systems have a limit on the amount of data they can process simultaneously. By exceeding this limit, the flood of information that happens in a DDoS attack over a very short period creates a sudden bandwidth explosion causing sites to crash, accounts to be suspended, and enormous bandwidth usage fees charged.
October 21, 2016 saw the largest DNS-related DDoS attack in history, which crippled huge sites like Twitter, eBay, and Spotify. Experts predict that as the Internet continues to expand, attacks like this will get more common, not less.
Like we said above, a secure DNS is a major element in defending against these types of attacks. This is why Premium DNS is the best choice for any professional or legitimate business site.
What About Free DNS?
But wait, my nameserver says it provides free DNS with my domain. Can’t I just use that?
It’s true that paying zero dollars for a service, especially if it’s included with something you already spent money on, is a pretty attractive perk. And yes, free DNS is just fine for personal websites and blogs–the kind of sites where major growth isn’t expected or a bit of downtime won’t hurt your business. Some free DNS packages even come with extra security features like firewall policies, filtering, and rate limiting and blocking to guard against DDoS attacks.
So if you’re building a site for fun, free DNS might be just the thing you need. But consider this: as these attacks on DNS become more sophisticated, they open a gateway to other types of data theft. Your personal web server may not be the target, but hackers may use your own IP address to mask a malicious IP address, fraudulently soliciting confidential data and money from other users.
Do you really want to be the weak link in the chain that broke the Internet? Didn’t think so.
These days, whether you’ve got a simple blog site or your entire business relies on the integrity of your website, choosing a premium DNS service is a no-brainer.
The Best Offense is a Good DNS
In a nutshell, things have gotten uglier out there in Internet Security Land. While you may have once been able to get by with basic protection on your site, those days are over. Luckily, premium DNS (like WhoisGuard and SSL certificates) is a simple, affordable, easily-integrated security measure that can really pay off in the long run.
In the context of the three main areas concerning DNS we covered above, better DNS gets you increased security, more reliable performance, and greater speed.
Just a few of the increased benefits of a premium DNS plan are:
- Advanced features – Customize your DNS management and admin controls, get a higher level of support, and more in-depth analytic reporting.
- Happier customers – Web users are impatient. A site that loads faster, even by fractions of seconds, can mean the difference between “tell me more” and “let’s move on” in your visitors’ minds. Ensuring your site loads faster than your competitors’ could mean a boost in traffic and sales.
- SEO – Become a search engine’s BFF with your site’s loading and uptime performance. Conversely, your SEO rankings and subsequent click rates could take a dive without a more robust DNS.
- Security – Don’t lose sleep over DDoS attacks when you have the additional layer of protection that comes with premium DNS, plus features like support for DNSSEC (an extra layer of validation which provides greater DNS security), and two-factor account authentication.
Get it together with PremiumDNS from Namecheap
As we’re now midway through the year, it’s a perfect time to take stock of your site features and make sure you’ve got the resources in place to keep everything running smoothly. Learn more about how Premium DNS can improve your site security and check out our top-rated PremiumDNS hosting available at the best price you’ll find anywhere.
Namecheap is fully dedicated to online security and privacy, so we’re always here to help you in making your site as great as you want it to be.