Google Chrome Follows Firefox Lead With DoH Option

Google has released Chrome 83 this week which has included a privacy feature that has offered by the rival Firefox browser for the past three months.

Version 83 of the Chrome browser includes DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) by default. DoH will automatically encrypt website requests for users in an effort to bolster privacy.

Mozilla’s Firefox had turned on DoH by default for desktop users in the US back in February. But Mozilla confirmed to the British government that it would not enable by default DoH on this side on the pond.

Chrome DoH

DoH is not liked by ISPs, security services and the government, as it makes it harder for them to detect the web surfing habits of suspects.

The issue for the British government is that DoH essentially bypasses UK web filters, which use the same technique, hijacking DNS lookups, to prevent easy access to websites blocked by internet service providers.

British users however will still be able to turn on DoH manually by going into the Options menu. Full instructions can be found here.

Just days after Mozilla announced the feature last September, Google said it will start testing DoH in its Chrome browser.

And now it is offering the option in Chrome 83.

“With Chrome 83, we’ve started rolling out Secure DNS, a feature built on top of a secure DNS protocol called DNS-over-HTTPS, which is designed to improve your safety and privacy while browsing the web,” blogged Google.

But it warned that it would only work if your current Internet Service Provider (ISP) supported it.

“More concretely, Chrome will automatically switch to DNS-over-HTTPS if your current DNS provider supports it, and provide manual configuration options for users who wish to use a specific provider,” it added.

DNS change

“DNS-over-HTTPS introduces a significant change to the Domain Name System (DNS), a system designed more than 35 years ago that is central to how the web works even to this day,” Google said.

“It’s the sort of change that requires careful planning and collaboration, which explains why it took us a little more than 2 years, gathering test data, listening to feedback, and addressing some misconceptions, to arrive at a design that put our users first with reasonable defaults and accessible controls,” it added.

“Chrome’s Secure DNS feature uses DNS-over-HTTPS to encrypt the DNS communication, thereby helping prevent attackers from observing what sites you visit or sending you to phishing websites,” it said. “As the name suggests, Chrome communicates with the DNS service provider over the HTTPS protocol, the same protocol used for communicating with websites in a safe and secure manner.”

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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