Mozilla has rolled out a new privacy feature in the Firefox browser to stop ISPs from tracking the websites you visit. Dubbed the ‘DNS over HTTPS’, this security feature will be available to all Firefox users in the U.S. by default in the coming weeks.
What is DNS Over HTTPS (DoH)?
Typically, your internet traffic is sent over an unencrypted plain text connection that can allow others to see which websites you are visiting, even if your communication on the website is encrypted using HTTPS.
For instance, if you type gmail.com on your browser, it looks that up in a DNS to find that it should connect to server 126.96.36.199.
Even if the server uses HTTPS, this DNS lookup is done in plain text. This means that your ISP, if it wishes, can log the names of all the websites you visit. This data can be used to build up a profile of your interests and sold to ad agencies.
DNS Over HTTPS (DoH) is a new standard that encrypts this part of your internet traffic as well and prevents ISPs from tracking the websites you visit.
It is worth noting DoH is not a completely secure solution, and your traffic would still be visible to whichever secure DNS service you use. For instance, Firefox uses Cloudflare by default and you can change it if you want to. However, for complete security, I would suggest that you use a VPN.
Firefox US rollout
Mozilla says Firefox is the first browser to support the DNS over HTTPS by default. You can enable DNS-Over-HTTPS on Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, and other browsers in the settings if you want to.
Firefox will roll out DoH as a default setting in the US gradually over the coming weeks to tackle any unforeseen issues.
For those who are outside the US or you cannot wait for the update, you can switch it on manually by following these steps:
- Firefox > Preferences
- Find Settings options and click on it
- Scroll down, check Enable DNS over HTTPS
- Optional: use the pull-down menu to change the provider