Secure DNS

  1. Secure DNS Resolver
  2. Deep Dive into Split Horizon Querying
  3. Relevant settings
  4. Nameserver

Secure DNS Resolver

Golang Docs

This module provides secure domain resolving. Most prominently, it uses the DNS-over-TLS protocol by default in order to protect your precious DNS queries from prying eyes.

It also splits its horizon between your local network and the Internet. If you employ local domains for either an enterprise network or development, it will direct queries for these domains to the correct local nameservers, if they announce them.

Responses from servers are cached intelligently, invalidating any cached responses that do not conform to updated configuration.

If you want to know how we choose our default providers, read How Safing Selects its Default DNS Providers.

Deep Dive into Split Horizon Querying

Here is how the Portmaster decides where to send dns queries in order to achieve maximum privacy and interoperability:

Environmental Domains

Queries within the environmental special domain scopes are directly handled by the Portmaster in order to provide network environment information. For example, your router can always be reached at router.local.17.home.arpa.

This horizon affects the following domain scopes:

  • .17.home.arpa
Connectivity Domains

Operating Systems and other software such as browsers use special domains to determine whether they are online and to check whether they are being kept captive by a portal, such as a welcome page on a public WiFi network.

In order to guarantee that these work properly, the Portmaster always sends them to the DNS Servers of the System or Network. Queries for these special domains also Ignore System/Network Servers and Enforce Secure DNS .

The connectivity domains the Portmaster knows about are:

  • captiveportal.invalid
  • one.one.one.one
  • dns.msftncsi.com
  • msftncsi.com
  • www.msftncsi.com
  • microsoftconnecttest.com
  • www.microsoftconnecttest.com
  • ipv6.microsoftconnecttest.com
  • captive.apple.com
  • connectivity-check.ubuntu.com
  • nmcheck.gnome.org
  • network-test.debian.org
  • 204.pop-os.org
  • connectivitycheck.gstatic.com
  • neverssl.com
  • detectportal.firefox.com
Search Scopes

Some networks use an internal domain name for addressing devices in them. These search domains are configured per DNS Server. The Portmaster prioritizes such DNS Servers for matching queries.

The Portmaster will not respect search domains that go higher than the public suffix - eg. a .com search scope will not be taken into account.

The domain scopes affected by this horizon are dependent on the current network environment. Also, DNS Server selection by this horizon is not final, the selection continues. Common Search Scopes include “.home” or “.lan”

Multicast Domains

There are certain domain names that by definition should not be resolved by a DNS Server, but all devices on the network should be queried at once by using a multicast request. If that does not result in an answer, the Portmaster will also try DNS Servers on the LAN and DNS Servers assigned by the System/Network.

This horizon affects the following domain scopes:

  • .local
  • .254.169.in-addr.arpa
  • .8.e.f.ip6.arpa
  • .9.e.f.ip6.arpa
  • .a.e.f.ip6.arpa
  • .b.e.f.ip6.arpa
Private and Special Use Domains

Another set of domains are set aside to be used in private networks. The Portmaster queries DNS Servers on the LAN and on DNS Servers assigned by the System/Network.

This horizon affects the following domain scopes:

  • .home.arpa
  • .intranet
  • .internal
  • .private
  • .corp
  • .home
  • .lan
  • .10.in-addr.arpa
  • .16.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .17.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .18.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .19.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .20.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .21.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .22.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .23.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .24.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .25.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .26.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .27.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .28.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .29.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .30.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .31.172.in-addr.arpa
  • .168.192.in-addr.arpa
  • .d.f.ip6.arpa
  • .c.f.ip6.arpa
  • .example
  • .example.com
  • .example.net
  • .example.org
  • .test
Special Services Domains

There are special services on the Internet that use a top level domain without actually using the DNS system. Rather, the domains are resolved using special mechanisms or servers. They usually cannot be resolved via public DNS Servers.

Some organizations have set up special resolving for these domains in their network. This is why the Portmaster forwards queries to these domains to DNS Servers on the LAN and to DNS Servers assigned by the System/Network. - if they are not blocked by Block Unofficial TLDs .

Please be aware that accessing these domains comes with a higher security risk simply because they do not receive as much attention from security researchers as regular domains.

This horizon affects the following domain scopes:

  • .onion
  • .bit
Global Domains

Everything else will be resolved by the resolvers configured in the Portmaster, while using the System/Network assigned ones as a final fallback.

Relevant settings

DNS Servers

DNS Servers to use for resolving DNS requests.

Retry Timeout

Timeout between retries when a DNS server fails.

Ignore System/Network Servers

Ignore DNS servers configured in your system or network. This may break domains from your local network.

Ignore Multicast DNS

Do not resolve using Multicast DNS. This may break certain Plug and Play devices and services.

Enforce Secure DNS

Never resolve using insecure protocols, ie. plain DNS.

Block Unofficial TLDs

Block .onion, .bit. Unofficial domains may pose a security risk. This setting does not affect .onion domains in the Tor Browser.

Nameserver

Golang Docs

This module is kind of the other end of the resolver. It listens locally for DNS requests from processes and lets the resolver come up with an answer.

Similarly to the firewall module, it first attributes the request to a process and fetches custom settings and then lets the Privacy Filter make a decision about the query. Only then is the resolver tasked with finding a response to the query. After receiving the response, it is again checked with the Privacy Filter in case something in the response needs to be blocked.