How to Defeat US DNS Censorship (Using DNS Web Tools)

How to Defeat US DNS Censorship (Using DNS Web Tools)

In our previous guide, we showed you how it is possible to defeat basic web censorship solely using things you already have on a Windows machine. Unfortunately, this might not always be successful, so we would like to show you a second way to obtain a server IP address that relies on tools available for free.

As you no doubt may be aware of by now is that a website can really be described as something with two components. The first being a server and the second being the domain name. As an example, “google.com” is merely a domain name. When you type in that to an address bar, your browser will rely on a list of domains and a matching IP address. That IP address can really be a server for a website. In essence, the domain really can be simply described as an easy, user friendly way of getting to a website. Without it, we might have to rely on typing in a series of numbers and periods just to access websites instead of actual website names.

Domains are so common on the internet, it’s really become just an expected part of browsing the internet. Unfortunately, things like the PROTECT IP act would put this secure and simple way of browsing the internet at risk. You don’t have to take my word for it, just ask the security consultants that wrote a whitepaper on that.

In our previous guide, we showed you how to manually locate a server IP address. In essence, by following through on those steps outlined in the guide, you are really, in a way, taking steps to remove DNS completely from the process of accessing a website – something that can be affected by the government should they pass the PROTECT IP Act. The question is, what would happen if they pass the PROTECT IP Act and you are unable to obtain IP address information via the command prompt? You are not out of options and this guide will explain how you can obtain a server IP address using third party web tools that are typically found on the web for free.

Step 1 – Finding the Appropriate DNS Tool Online

DNS lookup web tools are all over the web. You can simply go to Google and look up “DNS Records” or “DNS Lookup” and you’ll find a long list of different websites offering these services. If you find out a website you are using is being censored via DNS censorship, it can take a few days for these tools to update that information that the server has moved. That can leave a window of opportunity to obtain the server IP address in the mean time.

After searching around on Google, we found network-tools.com. It might be preferable in the future to stick with lookup tools outside of the United States in the future, but for now, just about any DNS lookup tool on the web that finds our server IP address will do.

Step 2 – Search for the DNS Information.

We should point out that not every DNS search tool is the same and you may need to try different options for a DNS look-up that will be helpful for you.

For us, in this instance, what worked for us was to click on the DNS Records radial, then typed in our example website, hotfile.com. After that, we clicked on “Go” as we can see in this screen capture:

After the search was completed, we were able to obtain lots of helpful information including the fact that Hotfile has numerous server IP addresses under the Type A DNS Records (for more information on DNS record types, check out the Wikipedia entry on this subject). This includes exactly what we are after, the server IP addresses for the website we are after:

A list is way better than a single IP address because it gives us numerous IP addresses to try when accessing the website. So, we really hit a jackpot here. The IP addresses is all we need. Copy the numeric values and save it wherever you like – so long as its convenient for you to use later should the US government decide to censor the DNS address.

Step 3 – Test the IP Address

Now that we have the IP addresses, we can start testing them in our web browser. You can open a new tab and type in “http://[insert IP address here]” This will point the browser directly to an IP address, bypassing any possible DNS-based censorship you might encounter. Since we, in this example, have obtained a list of possible IP addresses to try, we decided to try the second one (it really doesn’t matter which one you use so long as you find that the IP address works and directs you to the proper website. Sure enough, our test worked!

Probably best to save every IP address just in case, but we know at least one of those IP addresses work. Should one fail, we got plenty of other server IP addresses to try out instead.

Congratulations! We’ve defeated the the US government DNS censors! Now, if you type in that working IP address instead of the DNS name, no amount of making “hotfile.com” (as is our example) redirect to a different website by the government will stop you from accessing the website.