Unlike other browsers, it can’t be said that Google Chrome’s focus is on privacy. However, as its browser rivals such as Brave, Safari, and Firefox continue to put privacy front and center, Chrome has little choice but to be dragged along with them. And as of today, Google Chrome is getting a massive privacy boost thanks to the inclusion of DNS-over-HTTPS.
DNS, or the Domain Name System, is a core technology of the internet. It’s what allows users to type in URLs instead of the numerical IP address of a website. However, the DNS system has historically required computers to perform DNS lookups (matching a URL to an IP address) unencrypted, which means anyone from your ISP to bad actors could see what websites you’re visiting.
DNS-over-HTTPS changes all that by encrypting the DNS lookups your browser performs—essentially shutting out ISPs from knowing which sites you go to (the websites themselves can still identify your computer by its IP, however). In other words, Google adding DNS-over-HTTPS to Chrome, the world’s most popular browser, is a major privacy win.
Though Chrome 83 and later supports DNS-over-HTTPS, Google isn’t flipping the switch on it automatically. Instead, it’s rolling it out gradually. However, if you want to flip the switch on it now, you can (via ghacks.net):
- Make sure you’ve downloaded the most recent version of Chrome (version 83.0.4103.61 or higher).
- Type “chrome://flags/#dns-over-https” into Chrome’s address bar.
- Under the “Secure DNS lookups” menu, click the “Default” drop-down menu and select “Enabled.”
- Click the “Relaunch” button to relaunch Chrome.
Now, provided your DNS server supports Secure DNS, DNS-over-HTTPS will be enabled in Chrome, making your internet browsing that much more private.