What is Protective DNS?

Cybersecurity best practices are considered to be a mostly stable set of guidelines that advise organizations on the safest way to protect their digital holdings. Every once in a while, however, there are shakeups within these otherwise established best practices. Governing bodies issue new regulations, high-profile cyber attacks expose developing threats, and global events place pressure on existing cybersecurity measures.

In March of 2021, the National Security Agency (NSA) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published a joint statement in which they advocated for widespread adoption of protective DNS measures. Both agencies advised that protective DNS solutions should be included as a cybersecurity best practice. The NSA and CISA went as far as to say their goal in publishing this report was to “release unique, timely, and actionable cybersecurity guidance to strengthen the cybersecurity of the nation and its allies at scale.”

It’s clear to everyone that protective DNS is a critical piece of the cybersecurity puzzle, and a major component of a Secure Web Gateway (SWG). But for those of you who aren’t yet familiar with this security service, we’re here to give you answers. When it comes to protective DNS, what does your organization need to know?

What is Protective DNS?

Protective DNS (often referred to as PDNS) is the catch-all term for security solutions that examine your DNS queries and implement safeguards to prevent you from accessing malicious sites that contain malware, ransomware, phishing attacks, and other dangerous content.

DNS protection services analyze IP addresses and domain names against a variety of threat intelligence databases and directories. If a site is known (or suspected) to be malicious, DNS protection ensures that you’ll be directed back to safety, without exposing yourself to the identified risk.

Examples of DNS protection include content filtering, web domain categorization, malware defense, and even advertisement restrictions. PDNS protects you from sites known to host phishing scams, harbor viruses, and unwanted or illegal content. 

Why is DNS Protection So Important?

You use DNS every day. It’s the bedrock on which the internet is built, so it’s no surprise that cybercriminals target this layer. Malware attacks, phishing links, and ransomware plots inevitably involve DNS protocol. 

The NSA and CISA aren’t the only ones pushing for DNS protection. Companies across the globe are investing in protective DNS solutions as the workforce continues to operate outside of traditional office environments. Rapid digitization and work-from-home measures brought about by the pandemic have contributed to a further distributed workforce. IT security systems must protect more than just the company network: remote employees require the additional oversight of securing home routers, public networks, IoT devices, and BYOD. 

Cybersecurity teams, in looking to strengthen the safety of company networks, leverage PDNS to secure an ever-expanding collection of devices, access points, and users. Proper DNS protection offers a zero-trust security solution for any end user accessing the internet on your network. These services create a secure environment requiring no action or training on your end.

How Do You Implement Protective DNS?

Here’s some good news: the right DNS protection can be rapidly deployed across your network in a matter of minutes. Same-day implementation ensures that your organization is protected quickly and comprehensively.

When selecting a PDNS provider, the NSA and CISA recommend finding a service that “provide[s] malicious activity alerts, enterprise dashboard views, historical logging and analysis, and [...] due to DNS being foundational to most online activity, ensure that PDNS is provided as a high availability service.”

Look for a protective DNS solution that:

  • Blocks malware and phishing domains
  • Augments protective measures using artificial intelligence or machine learning
  • Provides content filtering through DNS filtering
  • Deploys across hybrid architectures
  • Offers customization by device, group, or network

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