New Quad9 DNS service will make everyone’s internet experience safer

17 Nov 2017

Quad9 could keep users safer online. Image:Branislav Nenin/Shutterstock

The new Quad9 service will see more power given back to internet users.

Quad9 is a collaboration between IBM, Packet Clearing House (PCH) and the Global Cyber Alliance (GCA).

A non-profit organisation, Quad9’s DNS (Domain Name System) aims to check websites visited by users against IBM’s massive X-Force threat intelligence database as well as 18 additional databases, including:, the Anti-Phishing Working Group, Bambenek Consulting, F-Secure, Mnemonic, Netlab, Payload Security, Proofpoint, RiskIQ and ThreatSTOP.

Quad9 will also detect and block access to known malicious websites immediately.

Its name is a reference to the actual IP address used by the service, which is Usually, your internet connection will leverage a DNS service that is configured by your ISP, but this new offering adds an enticing layer of security that comes free of charge.

In a world where cybercrime can affect major enterprises, individual internet users and everyone in between, Quad9 could help people and companies alike to avoid millions of nefarious websites.

Philip Reitinger, GCA CEO and president, said Quad9 would be of great benefit to SMEs. “Small-to-medium-sized businesses and consumers have been left behind. They lack the resources, are not aware of what can be done with DNS, or are concerned about exposing their privacy and confidential information.”

Privacy is paramount for Quad9

Usually, the bulk of other DNS services store, correlate and leverage user information, but Quad9 was created with privacy in mind, keeping that browsing information away from the clutches of marketing companies hungry for consumer data. It promises that it won’t collect, store or sell any of the information uncovered about a user’s browsing habits.

John Todd, executive director of Quad9, told eWeek that the non-profit status of Quad9 is a vital element. “This gives us a core charter to not be profit-minded, so we are not in the business of monetising user data.

“We have no business model that focuses on commoditising user data. Our goal is to provide secure, performant DNS service with an assurance of privacy.”

According to ZDNet, the GCA devised the Quad9 service, with PCH providing the network infrastructure and IBM making its X-Force database available.

How DNS can help users

In a statement, IBM explained why DNS is so crucial: “Every data transaction on the internet requires a link between originating and receiving endpoints, like a user seeking a website. Humans need a human-friendly URL, but that has to be translated into the machine-readable numeric equivalent.

“These internet data transactions are underpinned by domain name translation, using servers and software that rely on a distributed, trust-based system that comprise the DNS system.”

In the next number of years, IoT devices will multiply, and a secure and private connection at DNS level can help prevent these devices being hacked and used for criminal or otherwise dodgy end goals.

DNS servers themselves can’t ascertain the difference between a malicious data packet and an innocent one, but Quad9 will use advanced analytics to identify and block malicious traffic.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects