Business owner's guide to DNS Georgetown TXIf you’ve ever been on the Internet and gone to a website (which is most of the world) you’ve used DNS and probably never even realized it. But what is DNS and what is so important about it?

What is DNS?

DNS stands for Domain Name System. It is the system that handles all domain names and where they live on the Internet. Think of it as the grand phonebook of the Internet (if you’re old enough to know what a phone book is). Phonebooks were the old big books that the phone companies would put out once a year that had all the people, their address and their phone number, basically a paper database. When you needed to call John Smith, you could look up his number in the phone book and call him. Of course, this was a manual process. In the case of DNS, things are automatic.

When you type into your web browser, it is the DNS system that looks up that address and tells your web browser where to go on the Internet to retrieve that web page. But why do we even need this? The reason is the difference between the way computers and humans think. To a computer, everything is numbers, in particular binary; zeros and ones. If you have ever heard of an IP address, this refers to an Internet Protocol address. This is the numeric address of a computer or device on the Internet. Humans think in terms of names not numbers. Who wants to have to remember and type when you can just type DNS looks up the domain name and returns the numeric address so your computer can travel the Internet highways to grab your webpage.

DNS also governs the registration and control of domain names. When you decide that you want to acquire your own little slice of virtual real estate on the Net, you register a domain name. There are several organizations out there like Network Solutions, GoDaddy, and many more that are “domain registrars.” They are authorized by the organization that controls domain names, ICANN, to be able to sell and register domains.

Once you register your domain name, then you can use it for Web services that you may want like a website or email or other service that you want to have online. Usually, these registrars also “host” your domain name and provide the address lookup when someone searches for your domain so people can reach your site or so email can be delivered to you.

DNS is also decentralized. Just like phonebooks were released by area codes and the telephone company that served those numbers, DNS “name servers” are kept by the registrars that host the DNS database for the clients they serve. So, if you bought a domain name from GoDaddy, a GoDaddy name server hosts your Internet address records and is authoritative for your domain. This keeps things from becoming monolithic and helps DNS performance so when your computer needs to look up an address, it does not take too long.

DNS is like the address book and street signs to the Internet. Of course, like any area, there are also sketchy parts. Cyber criminals often register domain names and try to attack DNS in various ways to route traffic from legitimate sites to ones they control in order to get people to put in sensitive, compromising information or to infect computers with malware.

In order to combat this trend, security companies track domain names and addresses of places on the Internet they find that are known bad areas or areas that are suspect. This data is used by these companies to provide DNS protection services. DNS protection blocks your computer from going to these bad areas of the Internet. DNS Protection has become an important part of modern, layered cyber security in this day and age.

So that is DNS, in a nutshell. DNS is the behind the scenes hero that makes modern life on the Internet possible and keeps us all from having to think like a computer to go anywhere online. The Internet would be a very different place without it.

Contact CTTS today: (512) 388-5559together we'll find the appropriate solution for you and your business for today and for whatever the future may hold.


By Kurt Rinear
Director of Technical Services
Central Texas Technology Solutions