How a scam should fail

Posted August 25, 2017 by David Redekop to Case Study Security Whitelist

I’m dumbfounded at how often I personally receive deceptive SMS messages like this one here I just received:

When I opened the message, I see that it would be a motivating message for someone to click on if there’s hope to receive some “refund”, even if it’s someone else’s:

Fortunately I was confident with our zero trust model that I could go ahead and click on the link and was unable to go any further:

This is really what it looks like when you protect an end-user, even if that’s yourself 🙂

Ad-free iOS apps

Posted December 17, 2015 by David Redekop to Blacklist Case Study DNS

iOS apps, especially with little children, are often completely unusable unless the ads and trackers are all blocked. Many parents are used to putting an app in airplane mode before letting kids play. Unfortunately that disqualifies all apps that require connectivity.

DNSthingy ad-blocking disabled: DNSthingy ad-blocking enabled:
with-iAd without-iAd

While Apple has their own iAd ecosystem, many mobile apps use alternate ad providers (mopub is a popular one), which are already blocked in our default blacklists.

But to have a truly beautiful iOS app experience and cover all the bases, follow these steps for the ruleset applied to your iOS devices:

  1. block-ads

    The blacklist above does not include hosts that prevent services from working.

  2. Now you want to create a separate list (Dashboard -> Manage Rules -> My Lists -> Create a List -> blacklist) called iAds and include these hosts:

    iadsdk.apple.com
    iad.apple.com

  3. Finally, go to your Ruleset and turn it on like this:

    block-iAds

Note: blocking Apple iAds will prevent iTunes radio (does anyone still listen to that?) from working as well as the occasional tracked ad. For most subscribers, this is a small price to pay for a superior iOS app experience.

Enjoy!

Case Study: save thousands on video bandwidth

Posted December 2, 2015 by David Redekop to Blacklist Case Study

In many parts of the world, even the western world, bandwidth is expensive. One of our subscribers is out in the “middle of nowhere” as they call it, far away from any affordable fibre, DSL or cable, and the only connectivity option is a metered LTE connection.

It didn’t take long to find out that their $1,100+/month bill came from the video content being consumed by the 30+ stone quarry labourers near the office during their breaks and lunches. As probably is common in many parts of the world, they were browsing YouTube, Netflix and Facebook.

The owners felt they had two basic options:

  1. Disallow staff the usage of WiFi altogether. This would have an impact on morale and may not be an effective move.
  2. Disallow the bandwidth-consuming services and explain to the staff the high cost of bandwidth in this geographic region.

They chose the latter option, and it was literally as simple as creating a DNSthingy black list with these domains in a list called Bandwidth hogs:

youtube.com
netflix.com
netflix.net
video-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net
lp.longtailvideo.com
cdn.liveleak.com

However, the owners wanted to naturally exempt themselves from this blacklist, so they simply created two rulesets as follows:

Ruleset How it's used For which devices
#1 Bandwidth hogs blacklist applied Ruleset applies to all devices as well as new ones by default (i.e. when a new wifi device joins for the first time)
#2 Bandwidth hogs blacklist not applied Ruleset applies to owners' devices
On the DNSthingy dashboard, here’s how it looks now:
Explanation How it looks
Block the bad (ruleset used by default) Bandwidth hog ON
Business Owners (ruleset applied to owners' devices) Bandwidth hog OFF
This is how it looks when rulesets are assigned (under Dashboard -> Manage Network -> Devices): Manage Devices - Owners

This subscriber is going to save an estimated $10,000 in bandwidth costs this year based on the above steps.

  • This approach still allows for general Facebook access, but the videos do not play and therefore bandwidth is saved.
  • This blacklist is available for you to subscribe to, so when domains are added to it in the future, you automatically benefit. Once you’re logged into your own dashboard, simply visit:

https://www.dnsthingy.com/dashboard/share_accept/agtzfmRuc3RoaW5neXITCxIKQnVuZGxlTGlzdBjBn_4RDA
(will open new tab/window)

You will then need to Subscribe (inherit changes by the author, yours truly), or Make a copy (manage your own changes in the future) as shown in this screenshot:

subscribe-copy

If you have a favourite list of your own, you can use the share feature (available on any list in your account) and share the URL with others to subscribe. A public-facing site for those that want to share their list is in development.