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2017 Press Releases

November 17, 2017

IBM, PCH and Global Cyber Alliance Collaborate to Protect Users From Millions of Malicious Websites

IBM Security, Packet Clearing House (PCH) and The Global Cyber Alliance GCA) has launched a free service designed to provide consumers and businesses with added privacy and security protection as they access the internet. The new Quad9 Domain Name System (DNS) service will be able to protect users from accessing millions of malicious internet sites known to steal personal information, infect users with ransomware and malware, or conduct fraudulent activity.

Businesses and consumers can safeguard their online privacy as the Quad9 (9.9.9.9) DNS service has been engineered to not store, correlate or leverage any personally identifiable information (PII) from its users. In contrast, other DNS services often capture information about the websites consumers visit, devices they use and where they live for marketing or other purposes.

Quad9 provides an automated security solution at a time when it is needed most by consumers. According to a GCA survey, 27% of consumers think they are capable of staying ahead of the latest online threats and only 14% have ever changed the DNS settings on their computer. To take advantage of the security and privacy of Quad9, users simply need to reconfigure a single setting on their devices to use 9.9.9.9 as their DNS server.

The protections delivered via Quad9 cover not only traditional PCs and laptops but can also be extended to internet connected devices (TVs, DVRs) or Internet of Things (IoT) technologies such as smart thermostats and connected home appliances. These devices often do not receive important security updates and are also difficult to secure with traditional anti-virus tools, yet remain connected to the internet leaving them vulnerable to hackers.

How Quad9 Works
With the launch of Quad9, consumers and businesses have a way of protecting themselves that is both effective and affordable with minimal configuration changes. Quad9 makes using security threat intelligence a hands-off effort and designed to give users “automated immunity” from known internet threats by automatically blocking access to known malicious websites.  

Every website has a unique numerical address – known as an IP address. To make it easier to navigate the internet, those numeric addresses are translated to company names or words we can remember, understand, and search. Quad9 helps translate those numeric addresses into the URLs we are all familiar with, while adding in a layer of security and privacy before users land on the web address.

Whenever a Quad9 user clicks on a website link or types an address into a web browser, Quad9 checks the site against IBM X-Force’s threat intelligence database of over 40 billion analysed web pages and images. The service also taps feeds from 18 additional threat intelligence partners including Abuse.ch, the Anti-Phishing Working Group, Bambenek Consulting, F-Secure, mnemonic, 360Netlab, Hybrid Analysis GmbH, Proofpoint, RiskIQ, and ThreatSTOP.

Quad9 provides these protections without compromising the speed that users expect when accessing websites and services. Leveraging PCH’s expertise and global assets around the world, Quad9 has points of presence in over 70 locations across 40 countries at launch. Over the next 18 months, Quad9 points of presence are expected to double, further improving the speed, performance, privacy and security for users globally. Telemetry data on blocked domains from Quad9 will be shared with threat intelligence partners for the improvement of their threat intelligence responses for their customers and Quad9.

Why is DNS Security Needed?
The stakes are high – cybercrime is estimated to cost the global economy more than $2 trillion by 2019. Cybercriminals use tools and techniques to build realistic-looking websites that mimic legitimate companies. These websites might even have names that look similar to a household national chain or a local store – but in reality, are not because they have a different IP address – something that most users would find hard to detect.

The problem is compounded by the fact that there will be 80 billion internet connected devices (or IoT devices) in homes and businesses by 2025. It has proven difficult for users to secure and update these devices, as software vulnerabilities and misconfigurations are discovered.

With Quad9 used in a home or business network at the router or gateway level, users will have an added level of protection for their IoT devices. These smart devices would also be blocked from accessing remote hosts which have been identified as being harmful or IoT botnets such as Mirai, which infected millions of IoT devices in late 2016.

Globally, regulations relating to security and privacy also continue to emerge. In May 2018, Europe will enact the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a set of sweeping regulations meant to protect the personal data and privacy of its citizens. Quad9’s emphasis on data privacy is built with efforts like GDPR in mind.