Quad9 – a private and secure DNS in South Africa

For the past year, a non-profit organisation called CleanerDNS has been running a Domain Name System service in South Africa called Quad9 in partnership with INX-ZA.

Located at 9.9.9.9, Quad9 describes itself as a free, recursive, anycast DNS platform that provides security protections, privacy, and high-performance.

Quad9 said it checks all sites you look up through its DNS against a list of domains combined from 19 different threat intelligence partners. It then blocks known malicious domains, preventing your computers and IoT devices from connecting to malware or phishing sites.

No personally identifiable information is collected by the system, and Quad9 promises that not even IP addresses are stored to disk or distributed outside of the equipment it uses to answer DNS queries.

“There are no other secondary revenue streams for personally identifiable data, and the core charter of the organisation is to provide secure, fast, private DNS.”

Quad9 in South Africa

While Quad9 officially launched in November 2017, it first came to South Africa in May of that year through INX-ZA’s Johannesburg Internet Exchange point (JINX).

It expanded to Durban in September, and by November it was also installed at data centres in Saldanha Bay and Cape Town.

Through its expansion to these four locations in South Africa, Quad9 was able to cover all six Internet exchange points in the country, including those operated by NAPAfrica.

This means that no matter which network you are on in South Africa, you are next to a Quad9 node.

“We also are pleased to say that we have chosen the JINX location at Parklands as the second data centre in which we operate all of the production backup systems for our network,” Quad9 told MyBroadband.

The Parklands data centre, operated by Internet Solutions, is one of four locations that hosts JINX.

Quad9 explained that the Parklands facility, with interconnection provided by JINX, will act as a load sharing and backup site.

It will accept and process data from certain regions that are close, and in case its other core site in Silicon Valley becomes unreachable or unoperational it will act as a failover site.

Numbers

Asked about the DNS traffic seen in South Africa, the organisation said it tries to keep volume data non-public to prevent “search engine permanence” on a rapidly moving target.

However, Quad9 was willing to disclose relative figures.

Over late November and early December, Quad9 saw around a 10% growth in traffic volume across most of its sites in South Africa.

“This is actually a bit less than our other cities in Europe or Asia which are growing at phenomenal rates, but we haven’t focused on promoting Quad9 in South Africa recently,” the organisation said.

“Our infrastructure that we’ve deployed to South Africa is robust and able to handle perhaps 10 to 20 times the volume without really even getting warm, so we’re hoping that with discussion in the public forum, this will ramp up quickly.”

Quad9 said it recently blocked over 1 million malicious host lookups on systems in South Africa over 30 days.

“This means Quad9 has stopped phishing sites, command and control systems for botnets, malware distribution systems, or ransomware software trying to phone home,” the organisation said.

Now read: The best public DNS services to use in South Africa

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Quad9 – a private and secure DNS in South Africa