New Google App Fights Censorship

A new app has been recently launched by Google, aimed at protecting users from state-sponsored censorship and limitations on freedom of information.

The app, called Intra, was created by Jigsaw, the division owned by Google parent Alphabet.

Jigsaw is essentially Alphabet’s cyber unit division. It is focused on preventing censorship, threats of online harassment and countering violent extremism.

The way Intra works is by preventing Domain Name Server (DNS) manipulation attacks.

Whenever you visit a website, the easy-to-remember web address is converted to a less-than-memorable IP address, often over an unsecured connection. That makes it easy for oppressive governments to intercept web addresses requests and either kill them in their tracks to stop sites from loading, or redirect to a fake site.

By passing all your browsing queries and app traffic through an encrypted connection to a trusted DNS, Intra aims to ensure using the app without external meddling, or getting to the right site without interference.

“Intra is dead simple to use. Just download the app and turn it on,” Jigsaw said. “That’s it.”

Jigsaw has already seen some successes in parts of the world where internet access is restricted, such as Venezuela. 

Intra uses Google’s own trusted DNS server by default, but users can also adjust their browsing requests through Cloudflare, which also hosts its own publicly accessible secure DNS server, or any other secure DNS server they wish.

Jigsaw said it will incorporate the app into Android Pie, which already allows encrypted DNS connections. 

But Jigsaw is also making the app available for users in parts of the world with weaker economies that make upgrading from older devices near-impossible so they can benefit from the security features.

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