DNSCrypt Field Guide
The following page is a quick guide to DNSCrypt, a protocol designed to improve your DNS security.
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Table of Contents
There comes a time where you would use an alternate Domain Name System (DNS) server over the DNS servers provided by your internet service provider (ISP), be it to improve your Internet performance, get around filters, etc. How-To Geek has a good article explaining why you would prefer to use an alternate DNS service. A few popular alternate DNS servers include Google Public DNS, Cloudflare 188.8.131.52 or OpenNIC.
However, at some times, these alternate DNS servers might be intercepted by your ISP, allowing your ISP to be able to log your Internet activities again. This is called a DNS leak. A good way to test this is through the DNS leak test.
For instance, here's a test run by someone using the Google Public DNS, run on a different network from mine.
However, when running the same test using the same DNS provider through my own network, I see this.
As you can see, the default DNS server from my own ISP is now showing instead of the standard DNS servers provided by Google Public DNS. This is a simple case of a DNS leak.
What is DNSCrypt?
What it does
DNSCrypt solves the DNS leak problem mentioned above. It uses cryptographic signatures to verify that responses originate from the chosen DNS resolver and haven't been tampered with.
Your ISP often intercepts the DNS resolvers you use, and then swap them with their own DNS resolver. This can be used to do various things, whether it's to log their customers' activities, inject ads to your browser, or even block certain domains.
If you're worried about the things mentioned above, then this is the right tool for you.
What it doesn't do
Please be aware that DNSCrypt is not a VPN, or a replacement for it. It does not anonymize your connection at all. DNSCrypt is just a protocol used to verify and authenticate your connection with your DNS resolver, as explained above.
If you're really concerned about your privacy and want to stay anonymous, consider buying a VPN, or use Tor instead.
The DNSCrypt team has release
dnscrypt-proxy 2.0, which has a more streamlined setup compared to version 1.0. Whether you have no command-line knowledge, or know the basics of it, setting it up is a lot easier now.
dnscrypt-proxy 2.0 is supported by other DNSCrypt clients listed here. If you would like to use other clients within the list, please read through the manual for the client you want to use.
This guide will use Simple DNSCrypt. Simple DNSCrypt provides an easy interface to manage your DNSCrypt services, the DNS resolvers you use as well as linking your computer's network adapters to the DNSCrypt service.
First, download the installer from the Simple DNSCrypt website, and install it. (Note: administrator rights might be required in order to install and run this app!)
Once the setup has been completed, and you run the app, you will see this.
For the most part, you can ignore this section. However, on the "Service" section, activate the "DNSCrypt Service" toggle. This will turn on your DNSCrypt service. Then select the network adapters you'd like to route through the DNSCrypt service on the section below. It's that simple!
Next, go to the "Resolvers" tab.
dnscrypt-proxy will automatically pick the fastest DNSCrypt resolver from the list in this section. If you want to pick a resolver manually, disable the "Automatic" toggle and select one or more DNSCrypt resolvers from the list below.
My recommended DNSCrypt resolvers from this list are:
- Cloudflare 184.108.40.206 (cloudflare)
- Google Public DNS (google)
- OpenNIC (opennic-onic)
Once everything is set up, run the DNS leak test again, and your DNS resolver should work normally again!
dnscrypt-proxy service is available for install via Homebrew package manager. To install it, run:
$ brew install dnscrypt-proxy
Out of the box, it will find the fastest DNS resolver from the public servers list, but you can change it. The config file is located in
/usr/local/etc/dnscrypt-proxy.toml. Open it with your favourite text editor.
To change your preferred DNS resolver, uncomment the
server_names line, and add your preferred names based on the public servers list. So for example, if you want to include Google DNS, Cloudflare DNS, and OpenNIC, write down:
server_names = ['google', 'cloudflare', 'opennic-onic']
Save the config, and start the
dnscrypt-proxy service. This will allow
dnscrypt-proxy to automatically start next time you boot up your Macbook.
$ sudo brew services start dnscrypt-proxy
By default, the DNSCrypt proxy will run on
127.0.0.1. Therefore, we will need to change our DNS server to that. Open
System Preferences > Network, then select the device currently connected to the internet.
Then, we will need to change our DNS. Click on "Advanced" and go to the "DNS" tab. Then on the left column, click the plus icon to add a new DNS address. Type
127.0.0.1, the address of our DNSCrypt proxy.
Press Enter to add it to the list, then press OK and Apply.
Congratulations, DNSCrypt is now configured on your Mac! Run the DNS leak test again, just to make sure it's configured correctly.
Hope this guide helps! Feel free to tweet at me if you need any help setting it up.