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New Firefox Add-on Defeats SOPA DNS Filtering

Posted by: , 17:32 AEDT, Sat December 24, 2011
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A new Firefox add-on makes it a seamless process to access future SOPA-blocked websites

Another Firefox add-on has been released that will allow users to easily bypass the DNS filtering provisions of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

The DNS system helps domain names to match up to IP addresses, so when users type in for example "", they are matched with one of the IP addresses used by the search engine. This allows users to use an easy to remember domain name, as opposed to remembering an IP address, which might also change and point to another server/website.

SOPA's DNS filtering will change DNS records for "rogue" websites, such as Megaupload or The Pirate Bay, and ensure users would no longer be able to access these websites in the United States by using the domain name. This is done by editing the DNS records of US domain name servers.

Users can still access the "bad" websites by navigating via the IP address directly, or connect to a non-US based DNS server. But as IP address for a website may change at a moment's notice, and connecting to foreign DNS servers has performance, and some security risks, a new Firefox add-on has been produced to simplify the whole process and make it safer.

DeSopa automates the process by connecting to 3 random foreign DNS servers, and finds an IP address that at least 2 of the 3 DNS servers indicate is the correct one for the website, and presents that to the user. This ensure that the correct IP address is served up, and the process will be seamless to the end user.

The effectiveness of DeSopa and other similar add-ons again show up the technical ineffectiveness of SOPA (and PIPA), but while it does nothing to stop web pirates, it may end up helping fraudsters and scammers. This is because a new, more secure version of DNS, dubbed DNSSEC, would be impossible to implement if Congress passes SOPA in its current form. DNSSEC has been designed to prevent DNS spoofing attacks, which might be costing the global economy billions of dollars ever year.


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