DNS Over Https

A new internet protocol will make government website blocking more difficult



 

Website blocking blocked...

House of Lords: Questions about DNS over HTTPS


Link Here 15th May 2019
Full story: DNS Over Https...A new internet protocol will make government website blocking more difficult
At the moment when internet users want to view a page, they specify the page they want in the clear. ISPs can see the page requested and block it if the authorities don't like it. A new internet protocol has been launched that encrypts the specification of the page requested so that ISPs can't tell what page is being requested, so can't block it.

This new DNS Over HTTPS protocol is already available in Firefox which also provides an uncensored and encrypted DNS server. Users simply have to change the settings in about:config (being careful of the dragons of course)

Questions have been raised in the House of Lords about the impact on the UK's ability to censor the internet.

House of Lords, 14th May 2019, Internet Encryption Question

Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 2:53 pm, 14th May 2019

To ask Her Majesty 's Government what assessment they have made of the deployment of the Internet Engineering Task Force 's new " DNS over HTTPS " protocol and its implications for the blocking of content by internet service providers and the Internet Watch Foundation ; and what steps they intend to take in response.

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, DCMS is working together with the National Cyber Security Centre to understand and resolve the implications of DNS over HTTPS , also referred to as DoH, for the blocking of content online. This involves liaising across government and engaging with industry at all levels, operators, internet service providers, browser providers and pan-industry organisations to understand rollout options and influence the way ahead. The rollout of DoH is a complex commercial and technical issue revolving around the global nature of the internet.

Baroness Thornton Shadow Spokesperson (Health)

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer, and I apologise to the House for this somewhat geeky Question. This Question concerns the danger posed to existing internet safety mechanisms by an encryption protocol that, if implemented, would render useless the family filters in millions of homes and the ability to track down illegal content by organisations such as the Internet Watch Foundation . Does the Minister agree that there is a fundamental and very concerning lack of accountability when obscure technical groups, peopled largely by the employees of the big internet companies, take decisions that have major public policy implications with enormous consequences for all of us and the safety of our children? What engagement have the British Government had with the internet companies that are represented on the Internet Engineering Task Force about this matter?

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for discussing this with me beforehand, which was very welcome. I agree that there may be serious consequences from DoH. The DoH protocol has been defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force . Where I do not agree with the noble Baroness is that this is not an obscure organisation; it has been the dominant internet technical standards organisation for 30-plus years and has attendants from civil society, academia and the UK Government as well as the industry. The proceedings are available online and are not restricted. It is important to know that DoH has not been rolled out yet and the picture in it is complex--there are pros to DoH as well as cons. We will continue to be part of these discussions; indeed, there was a meeting last week, convened by the NCSC , with DCMS and industry stakeholders present.

Lord Clement-Jones Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Digital)

My Lords, the noble Baroness has raised a very important issue, and it sounds from the Minister 's Answer as though the Government are somewhat behind the curve on this. When did Ministers actually get to hear about the new encrypted DoH protocol? Does it not risk blowing a very large hole in the Government's online safety strategy set out in the White Paper ?

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

As I said to the noble Baroness, the Government attend the IETF . The protocol was discussed from October 2017 to October 2018, so it was during that process. As far as the online harms White Paper is concerned, the technology will potentially cause changes in enforcement by online companies, but of course it does not change the duty of care in any way. We will have to look at the alternatives to some of the most dramatic forms of enforcement, which are DNS blocking.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Opposition Whip (Lords)

My Lords, if there is obscurity, it is probably in the use of the technology itself and the terminology that we have to use--DoH and the other protocols that have been referred to are complicated. At heart, there are two issues at stake, are there not? The first is that the intentions of DoH, as the Minister said, are quite helpful in terms of protecting identity, and we do not want to lose that. On the other hand, it makes it difficult, as has been said, to see how the Government can continue with their current plan. We support the Digital Economy Act approach to age-appropriate design, and we hope that that will not be affected. We also think that the soon to be legislated for--we hope--duty of care on all companies to protect users of their services will help. I note that the Minister says in his recent letter that there is a requirement on the Secretary of State to carry out a review of the impact and effectiveness of the regulatory framework included in the DEA within the next 12 to 18 months. Can he confirm that the issue of DoH will be included?

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Clearly, DoH is on the agenda at DCMS and will be included everywhere it is relevant. On the consideration of enforcement--as I said before, it may require changes to potential enforcement mechanisms--we are aware that there are other enforcement mechanisms. It is not true to say that you cannot block sites; it makes it more difficult, and you have to do it in a different way.

The Countess of Mar Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, for the uninitiated, can the noble Lord tell us what DoH means --very briefly, please?

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

It is not possible to do so very briefly. It means that, when you send a request to a server and you have to work out which server you are going to by finding out the IP address, the message is encrypted so that the intervening servers are not able to look at what is in the message. It encrypts the message that is sent to the servers. What that means is that, whereas previously every server along the route could see what was in the message, now only the browser will have the ability to look at it, and that will put more power in the hands of the browsers.

Lord West of Spithead Labour

My Lords, I thought I understood this subject until the Minister explained it a minute ago. This is a very serious issue. I was unclear from his answer: is this going to be addressed in the White Paper ? Will the new officer who is being appointed have the ability to look at this issue when the White Paper comes out?

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

It is not something that the White Paper per se can look at, because it is not within the purview of the Government. The protocol is designed by the IETF , which is not a government body; it is a standards body, so to that extent it is not possible. Obviously, however, when it comes to regulating and the powers that the regulator can use, the White Paper is consulting precisely on those matters, which include DNS blocking, so it can be considered in the consultation.

 

 

Forget Chrome...

Nominet outlines the UK stance on maintaining state censorship via DNS over HTTPS and Google will comply


Link Here 27th July 2019
Full story: DNS Over Https...A new internet protocol will make government website blocking more difficult
Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet, Britain's domain name authority has outlined the UK's stance on maintaining UK censorship and surveillance capabilities as the introduction of encrypted DNS over HTTPS (DoH) will make their job a bit more difficult.

The authorities' basic idea is that UK ISPs will provide their own servers for DNS over HTTPS so that they can still use this DNS traffic to block websites and keep a log of everyone's internet use. Browser companies will then be expected to enforce using the governments preferred DoH server.

And Google duly announced that it will comply with this censorship request. Google Chrome will only allow DoH servers that are government or corporate approved.

Note that this decision is more nuanced than just banning internet users from sidestepping state censors. It also applies to users being prevented from sidestepping corporate controls on company networks, perhaps a necessary commercial consideration that simply can't be ignored.

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet explains:

Firefox and Google Chrome -- the two biggest web browsers with a combined market share of over 70% -- are both looking to implement DoH in the coming months, alongside other operators. The big question now is how they implement it, who they offer to be the resolvers, and what policies they use. The benefit offered by DoH is encryption, which prevents eavesdropping or interception of DNS communication. However, DoH raises a number of issues which deserve careful consideration as we move towards it.

Some of the internet safety and security measures that have been built over the years involve the DNS. Parental controls, for example, generally rely on the ISP blocking particular domains for their customers. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) also ask ISPs to block certain domains because they are hosting child sexual abuse material. There may also be issues for law enforcement using DNS data to track criminals. In terms of cyber security, many organisations currently use the DNS to secure their networks, by blocking domains known to contain malware. All of these measures could be impacted by the introduction of DoH.

Sitting above all of these is one question: Will users know any of this is happening? It is important that people understand how and where their data is being used. It is crucial that DoH is not simply turned on by default and DNS traffic disappears off to a server somewhere without people understanding and signing up to the privacy implications. This is the reason what we have produced a simple explainer and will be doing more to communicate about DoH in the coming weeks.

DoH can bring positive changes, but only if it is accompanied by understanding, informed consent, and attention to some key principles, as detailed below:

Informed user choice:

users will need to be educated on the way in which their data use is changing so they can give their informed consent to this new approach. We also need some clarity on who would see the data, who can access the data and under what circumstances, how it is being protected and how long it will be available for.

Equal or better safety:

DoH disrupts and potentially breaks safety measures that have built over many years. It must therefore be the responsibility of the browsers and DoH resolvers who implement DoH to take up these responsibilities. It will also be important for current protections to be maintained.

Local jurisdiction and governance:

Local DoH resolvers will be needed in individual countries to allow for application of local law, regulators and safety bodies (like the IWF). This is also important to encourage innovation globally, rather than having just a handful of operators running a pivotal service. Indeed, the internet was designed to be highly distributed to improve its resilience.

Security:

Many organisations use the DNS for security by keeping suspicious domains that could include malware out of networks. It will be important for DoH to allow enterprises to continue to use these methods -- at Nominet we are embracing this in a scalable and secure way for the benefit of customers through our cyber security offering.

Change is a constant in our digital age, and I for one would not stand in the way of innovation and development. This new approach to resolving requests could be a real improvement for our digital world, but it must be implemented carefully and with the full involvement of Government and law enforcement, as well as the wider internet governance community and the third sector.

A Google developer has outlined tentative short term plans for DoH in Chrome. It suggest that Chrome will only allow the selection of DoH servers that are equivalent to approved non encrypted servers.

This is a complex space and our short term plans won't necessarily solve or mitigate all these issues but are nevertheless steps in the right direction.

For the first milestone, we are considering an auto-upgrade approach. At a high level, here is how this would work:

  • Chrome will have a small (i.e. non-exhaustive) table to map non-DoH DNS servers to their equivalent DoH DNS servers. Note: this table is not finalized yet.

  • Per this table, if the system's recursive resolver is known to support DoH, Chrome will upgrade to the DoH version of that resolver. On some platforms, this may mean that where Chrome previously used the OS DNS resolution APIs, it now uses its own DNS implementation in order to implement DoH.

  • A group policy will be available so that Administrators can disable the feature as needed.

  • Ability to opt-out of the experiment via chrome://flags.

In other words, this would upgrade the protocol used for DNS resolution while keeping the user's DNS provider unchanged. It's also important to note that DNS over HTTPS does not preclude its operator from offering features such as family-safe filtering.

 

 

Safer browsing in the US...

Mozilla announces that encrypted DNS will be slowly rolled out to US Firefox users from September


Link Here 8th September 2019
Full story: DNS Over Https...A new internet protocol will make government website blocking more difficult
DNS over HTTPS (DoH) is an encrypted internet protocol that makes it more difficult for ISPs and government censors to block users from being able to access banned websites It also makes it more difficult for state snoopers like GCHQ to keep tabs on users' internet browsing history.

Of course this protection from external interference also makes it much internet browsing more safe from the threat of scammers, identity thieves and malware.

Google were once considering introducing DoH for its Chrome browser but have recently announced that they will not allow it to be used to bypass state censors.

Mozilla meanwhile have been a bit more reasonable about it and allow users to opt in to using DoH. Now Mozilla is considering using DoH by default in the US, but still with the proviso of implementing DoH only if the user is not using parental control or maybe corporate website blocking.

Mozilla explains in a blog post:

What's next in making Encrypted DNS-over-HTTPS the Default

By Selena Deckelmann,

In 2017, Mozilla began working on the DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) protocol, and since June 2018 we've been running experiments in Firefox to ensure the performance and user experience are great. We've also been surprised and excited by the more than 70,000 users who have already chosen on their own to explicitly enable DoH in Firefox Release edition. We are close to releasing DoH in the USA, and we have a few updates to share.

After many experiments, we've demonstrated that we have a reliable service whose performance is good, that we can detect and mitigate key deployment problems, and that most of our users will benefit from the greater protections of encrypted DNS traffic. We feel confident that enabling DoH by default is the right next step. When DoH is enabled, users will be notified and given the opportunity to opt out.

Results of our Latest Experiment

Our latest DoH experiment was designed to help us determine how we could deploy DoH, honor enterprise configuration and respect user choice about parental controls.

We had a few key learnings from the experiment.

  • We found that OpenDNS' parental controls and Google's safe-search feature were rarely configured by Firefox users in the USA. In total, 4.3% of users in the study used OpenDNS' parental controls or safe-search. Surprisingly, there was little overlap between users of safe-search and OpenDNS' parental controls. As a result, we're reaching out to parental controls operators to find out more about why this might be happening.

  • We found 9.2% of users triggered one of our split-horizon heuristics. The heuristics were triggered in two situations: when websites were accessed whose domains had non-public suffixes, and when domain lookups returned both public and private (RFC 1918) IP addresses. There was also little overlap between users of our split-horizon heuristics, with only 1% of clients triggering both heuristics.

Moving Forward

Now that we have these results, we want to tell you about the approach we have settled on to address managed networks and parental controls. At a high level, our plan is to:

  • Respect user choice for opt-in parental controls and disable DoH if we detect them;

  • Respect enterprise configuration and disable DoH unless explicitly enabled by enterprise configuration; and

  • Fall back to operating system defaults for DNS when split horizon configuration or other DNS issues cause lookup failures.

We're planning to deploy DoH in "fallback" mode; that is, if domain name lookups using DoH fail or if our heuristics are triggered, Firefox will fall back and use the default operating system DNS. This means that for the minority of users whose DNS lookups might fail because of split horizon configuration, Firefox will attempt to find the correct address through the operating system DNS.

In addition, Firefox already detects that parental controls are enabled in the operating system, and if they are in effect, Firefox will disable DoH. Similarly, Firefox will detect whether enterprise policies have been set on the device and will disable DoH in those circumstances. If an enterprise policy explicitly enables DoH, which we think would be awesome, we will also respect that. If you're a system administrator interested in how to configure enterprise policies, please find documentation here.

Options for Providers of Parental Controls

We're also working with providers of parental controls, including ISPs, to add a canary domain to their blocklists. This helps us in situations where the parental controls operate on the network rather than an individual computer. If Firefox determines that our canary domain is blocked, this will indicate that opt-in parental controls are in effect on the network, and Firefox will disable DoH automatically.

This canary domain is intended for use in cases where users have opted in to parental controls. We plan to revisit the use of this heuristic over time, and we will be paying close attention to how the canary domain is adopted. If we find that it is being abused to disable DoH in situations where users have not explicitly opted in, we will revisit our approach.

Plans for Enabling DoH Protections by Default

We plan to gradually roll out DoH in the USA starting in late September. Our plan is to start slowly enabling DoH for a small percentage of users while monitoring for any issues before enabling for a larger audience. If this goes well, we will let you know when we're ready for 100% deployment.

 


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