As you surf your favorite websites, or build your own site, do you pay much attention to the actual technologies powering this integral part of daily life? While we primarily focus on coding languages and database health when manipulating a website, if it wasn’t for a select few technologies, the internet as we know it may not exist.
Topping this list is DNS, which stands for Domain Name System. In the most basic explanation, DNS is among the few technologies that actually provide the digital pathway to connectivity. While this function typically runs in the background, when you’re diving into the intricacies of website development, it’s imperative in understanding DNS, how it works, and what it means to your website development.
What Does DNS Actually Do? Understanding DNS Purpose
When you connect to the internet, whether from your smartphone, desktop or laptop, the device you use is assigned and identified by a numerical sequence, known as an IP Address. This string of numbers is an important component, as it’s how the internet (and network providers) identify your computer and allow connection.
During the early years of the internet, IP Addresses were stored on host files. These files were housed in each device, and were required when connecting to the internet. While this method was acceptable during the first phase of public internet access, as network speeds increased and website became more dynamic versions of their text-only predecessors, there needed to be a new way to host IP Addresses.
This is when the Domain Name System (DNS) was created. Essentially, this technology streamlines and standardizes domain name structure and offers a set list of protocols and methods for retrieving, updating and storing IP Addresses. Ultimately, this means when you want to visit your favorite website, you can type the URL and not the IP Address. Could you imagine having to remember all those numbers to simply check the news or visit your favorite social media site? No thank you!
DNS as a Powerful Security Tool
Allowing the internet to know you exist, DNS has then been able to create specific standardizations when it comes to internet security. One of the most powerful security capabilities of DNS is its anti-phishing tools. This means, it automatically acts as a safeguard against malicious phishing attempts, which are cyberattacks that attempt to retrieve personal information through back-end tactics.
This is most evident when you look at how DNS interacts with email. Instead of allowing just any email to flood your inbox, DNS automatically blocks attempted phishing attempts by only allowing data transmission to your email server from known and approved IP Addresses.
Another powerful security measure offered by DNS is its ability to hide your internal network infrastructure. By shielding this sensitive information, DNS makes it almost impossible for hackers to dive deep into your network. This prevents a variety of malware, trojan and other malicious attacks from even happening.
As you can see, DNS is far more than a simple way to store your IP Addresses. It’s a powerful tool capable of thwarting malicious attacks while streamlining access to the internet.