Cloudflare is known for its content delivery network services (CDN), DDoS mitigation, internet security and distributed domain name server services. It wants more than that.
Earlier in 2018, the company launched its 22.214.171.124 DNS service as a resolver which allows anyone to use it free of charge. DNS services are commonly used by ISPs to resolve domain names into real IP addresses for routers and switches to understand.
Generally, ISPs don't prioritize speed with their DNS service, resulting in slower connectivity. Because DNS servers provided by ISPs are often unreliable, Cloudflare which promises to speed up the internet with its 126.96.36.199, is expanding the service to mobile.
Available on iOS and Android, the mobile app pushes users' mobile traffic to its 188.8.131.52 DNS servers, with the aim to improve connectivity speed.
"Nearly everything on the Internet starts with a DNS request," explained Cloudflare. "DNS is the Internet’s directory. Click on a link, open an app, send an email and the first thing your device does is ask the directory: Where can I find this?"
Another way of saying this: despite users may not realize, they are constantly interacting with a DNS server or resolver when they are online, in one way or another. And in a security standpoint, there are certainly people watching.
From ISPs themselves to carriers, and also the government. To some extent, they can snoop on what users are doing on the internet by logging IP addresses.
"Your ISP, and anyone else listening in on the Internet, can see every site you visit and every app you use — even if their content is encrypted," added Cloudflare. "Creepily, some DNS providers sell data about your Internet activity or use it to target you with ads."
Here, Cloudflare takes privacy seriously.
Cloudflare's 184.108.40.206 DNS resolver here encrypts users' connection, preventing carriers from tracking users' browsing habits. The 220.127.116.11 app also does an end run around this to create a secure connection.
The company also said that it collects limited DNS query data, and doesn't include "user IP addresses or any personally identifiable information." Cloudflare also said that the data it stored on its servers are only good for 24 hours. After that, the company will purge the data it knows about users.
"We will never log your IP address (the way other companies identify you)," notes Cloudflare. "And we’re not just saying that. We’ve retained KPMG to audit our systems annually to ensure that we're doing what we say."
Downloading and running 18.104.22.168 does not mean that no one would be able to snoop on users' web browsing habit. No one can really guarantee that, including Cloudflare. But what Cloudflare can deliver, is making things way harder for some companies to do so.
And when it comes to speed, whether Cloudflare's DNS resolver on mobile will speed up users' internet speed, depends heavily on users' carriers. Even if Cloudflare's 22.214.171.124 is one of the fastest public resolver, it doesn't mean that it beats all single private ISP DNS services out there.
While the app acts like a VPN which re-routes users connection, it doesn't really work that way. VPN works a bit different since it hides users' IP address by creating a 'VPN tunnel'. This improves anonymity, but can sometimes lead to slower connection speed.
Cloudflare's 126.96.36.199 on the other hand. changes users devices' DNS, meaning it should be faster than most VPNs.