If you’ve spent time on the back end of your company website, or working with a web expert to set up a WordPress firewall or security monitoring, you’ve probably come across the term DNS. The DNS is a crucial service that allows customers to find your website, but many website owners don’t have much idea about how it really works.
What is a DNS?
Let’s start with the basics. DNS stands for Domain Name Server, which is actually a pretty descriptive title. All the information on the internet is stored in servers around the world. A server is just a kind of computer that serves the function of storing information and relaying it to other computers.
A DNS is a server that registers and stores the names and addresses of websites. While you probably know your website’s domain name as www.example.com, the DNS translates that human-readable name into a machine-readable numeric code called an IP address. The IP address indicates the identity and location of your website, allowing your browser to find it and load it on your screen.
In early telecommunications, customers would have to call a switchboard operator who would then connect their telephone to the phone line of whoever it was they wanted to speak to. A DNS is a modern-day version of that. When you type a URL into your search bar, the DNS acts as the operator — it reads your query and provides your browser with the correct address, which your browser then relays to you in the form of the website.
Not All DNS are Created Equal
The faster your browser can find the IP address, the sooner it can start loading website content. A DNS server with enough processing power to maintain 100 percent uptime will allow your website to load quicker. Fast loading is crucial for keeping potential customers engaged and interested when they navigate to your site. Slow DNS servers cause a lag before websites start to load, which can lead to losses in views, clicks, and sales, when potential customers navigate away from your site in search of a faster alternative.
Many businesses just use the DNS hosting provided by their registrar. If your registrar hosts websites on a large and powerful DNS this isn’t a problem, but since there are so many hosts and registrars out there, if you don’t know what to look for, you may end up registering your site to a DNS that slows your website’s loading time or leaves you vulnerable to security threats.
You don’t have to use the DNS provided by your registrar. In most cases, it is possible to move your website to a different host or name server while keeping the same domain name.
This can sometimes be a hassle, however, especially if you happened to register your domain name to a smaller registrar that doesn’t offer the same tools and capabilities as a larger, more established one. So the best way to ensure that your domain will be secure is to take a closer look at your advanced DNS options when you initially register your site.
What to Look For in a DNS
Fast Response Time
It’s vitally important that your website is accessible when your users want to access it. This means that your website needs to be up and running and visible to browsers 24 hours a day, especially if you serve customers around the world. Choosing a DNS with documented fast response time, as well as 100 percent uptime and built-in redundancies helps ensure that your users can always find your site.
Built-In Security Measures
Part of setting up a secure domain for your company is selecting a DNS that has its own security measures at the start. Plenty of good DNS offer security measures like protection from DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. Other keywords to look for are:
- WHOIS security
- Third-party nameservers to protect the hosting location of your site
- Email forwarding
- Domain/subdomain forwarding
- TTL configuration to allow site changes to go live faster
Most of these terms represent built-in settings or options that you can choose when setting up your domain to provide an additional level of protection and back end anonymity for your company’s website.
The DNSSEC (Domain Name Service Security Extension) provides another layer of security by verifying addresses returned by the DNS, thus preventing DNS-based attacks.
WHOIS is a query-response protocol that allows internet users to look up the registration information for a given domain. Without WHOIS security and privacy options, any person with an internet connection can potentially find the name and contact information of the person to whom your company’s domain is registered.
If something does go wrong with your domain, it’s important that you can contact someone at your registrar for help. Many registrars offer 24/7/365 technical support, with options for phone, instant messaging, and email contact. Choosing a DNS with this capability can lend you peace of mind in the event of an outage or security breach.
Tiered Access Options
Keeping your login credentials secure and keeping access to a minimum is important for maintaining domain security, but there are times when it may be necessary for someone outside your company to be able to take a look at the back end of your domain. A good DNS will allow for different tiers of access — for example, the owner of the site can be set up as the main administrator, with access to billing and user management, while your IT professional or web security expert can be given a lower level of access so that they can see what’s going on in the event of an issue, but can’t make unnecessary changes or view your private information.
Two-factor login authentication is also important, and can help to differentiate users and add an additional level of security from the point of access.
Advanced DNS comprises a series of security features and options that you can use to maintain domain security. If you aren’t sure what DNS your domain is registered to, or whether your registrar or DNS offers the above security features, one option is to book a security audit from Wordzite today. Wordzite can help you set up a secure domain, recommend a good DNS, or provide website monitoring so you can be alerted of upcoming domain renewals.