Rich Warren: Enhance your internet security at no cost

Rich Warren: Enhance your internet security at no cost

In this age of near catastrophic internet security, a nonprofit organization has taken a major step to help the average computer user. The Global Cyber Alliance began testing this innovation 15 months ago and now offers its Quad9 DNS to the general public free of charge. One of Global Cyber Alliance's partners in this venture is IBM, which reinforces its credibility.

No matter whether you browse the web with Chrome, Firefox, IE, Opera, Edge or others, when you type in the name of the site you wish to visit, a lot of invisible sophisticated technology occurs. The behind-the-scenes Domain Name Service System kicks in to locate and load the website you wish to visit.

Trying to describe how this works would have most of you rolling your eyes and skipping to read "The Reluctant Townie." So let's just say it's magic and you have your choice of magician.

Most people blindly accept the DNS resolution provided by their internet service provider (ISP). Over a dozen other services offer to provide DNS for you. More involved and better informed users rely on Google or OpenDNS for the fastest and most accurate DNS. Some DNS services are benign while others track where you visit. All allow visiting nefarious sites.

The new Quad9 DNS from Global Cyber Alliance goes one step further. It continuously monitors internet sites and blocks sites that contain malware and phishing schemes. It does not censor content; it simply blocks known dangerous sites. Quad9 does not track your browsing and anonymizes all information it uses in its attempts to quash the bad guys.

Quad9 is not a substitute for good anti-virus and anti-malware software running on your computer, but it greatly reduces the risk of visiting a website that will leave you with regrets. Global Cyber Alliance is a charity, so there is no guarantee how long Quad9 will survive.

Normally, reconfiguring DNS within your computer operating system requires knowledge and fortitude. It's not for the faint of heart. However, Quad9 provides easy-to-understand videos and/or printed instructions on its website for both Apple and Microsoft (Windows) operating systems. If you still feel intimidated, any teenager or college student should be able to help.

Quad9 promises speed comparable to other major DNS, so enjoying enhanced security will not be a sacrifice. I plan to install it shortly and will report back on its performance. In my book, any security enhancement is worth the effort.

Here's a reader query:

"We purchased a LG OLED 55B6P TV on Dec. 19 last year at HH Gregg in Champaign, now closed. The TV has a one-year warranty on both parts and labor.

For the past month, we are experiencing pale green images across the lower section of the screen. The left side resembles a one-third cut file folder and the right side circle-like images.

Have you heard other complaints? Cause for concern? Should we contact LG for service prior to warranty expiration?"

This is unnatural and definitely a cause for concern. I contacted the reader and learned this occurs with all inputs. I immediately told her to contact LG to make a warranty claim. She followed my advice and here's her followup email: "Service rep came Thursday. Documented serial number. Said might be a screen panel. Called back that evening, opened claim, advised about 30 pages to review with LG. Referred to a 'bolt' in the back, whatever that means, and will follow up with us."

An actual bolt in the back of the set might be screwed in too far or otherwise impinging on the screen. Whatever you do, don't let LG off the hook until they replace the display panel or give you a new TV. OLED panels are exquisitely fragile and extremely expensive. A crystal wine goblet may be more robust than an OLED panel. Most of the cost of your TV is in the OLED display.

Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. Email him at hifiguy@mchsi.com.

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