I read that I could get better protection against
hackers by switching to an independent internet
connection service, such as Google Public DNS,
Cloudflare or Quad9. What do you think?
Bob Lommel, Minnetonka, Minn.
There are some security benefits, but they fall short of
hacking you refer to (called DNS hijacking) redirects
your web browser to a malicious website. The companies
you mention offer some protection against that type of
hacking when itís directed at internet servers, but no
protection if itís aimed at your home computer or
router. Unfortunately, home attacks are the biggest
personal security is at stake. Hackers would like to
redirect your browser to a malicious website that looks
just like the one you are trying to reach. There they
can show you advertising, steal your personal
information or download malicious software to your
redirection is accomplished by DNS hijacking, which
tampers with the Domain Name System, the internet
equivalent of a phone directory. This directory comes
into play whenever you type a name such as Amazon.com,
Google.com or Yahoo.com into your browser. The directory
matches a name to the string of numbers that is the
websiteís real address, then connects you with that
site. If that directory is hacked, your browser might
not be taken to Amazon, Google or Yahoo, but to
malicious imitation websites.
hereís the key part. This DNS directory exists on
virtually every computer between you and the website you
want to reach ó yours, your router and many internet
servers. If a hacker can tamper with the directory
anywhere in that chain, your browser can be redirected.
companies you mention are called DNS providers, and they
offer an alternative pathway to the internet that takes
the place of one your internet service provider
operates. They claim (and this is impossible to verify)
that by using their network, you will be more protected
from DNS hijacking on the internet.
protection from DNS hijacking on the internet wonít
protect you from attacks on your home computer or
router. Those attacks misdirect your browser before the
data even leaves your home.
best home defense is to have good antivirus software
installed on your computer, and to protect your router
by changing the password that was put on it at the
factory ó hackers know all the factory passwords. (To
learn more, see tinyurl.com/y8o2spcg).
I have two Gmail accounts that I access through
Microsoft Outlook on my PC. But Outlook can no longer
retrieve e-mail from one of the accounts. I keep getting
a password request, but I havenít been able to log in.
Iíve changed passwords, set up Outlook again and
switched the e-mail settings back and forth (I sent you
details.) But nothing works. Whatís wrong?
Mark Hebert, Minneapolis
Your e-mail settings are correct, so the likely cause is
a corrupted Outlook profile (the part of Outlook that
retains your passwords.) To fix it, create a new profile
(see tinyurl.com/l39lr95). Alternatively, you could log
in to your Gmail accounts through your web browser.