Not So Secret Handshake, Demystifying the HNS Ecosystem
In this series I’ll be covering all the projects building on Handshake. After writing a short article with a high level take on the project I decided to take a deeper dive. If there is a project or person you’d like me to cover, reach out to me on Twitter.
Product Feature: NextDNS
Much like Nomics, NextDNS isn’t a Handshake only project. But they are company that added support for HNS as early adopters and thus they deserve a look. This deceptively simple product deserves credit in its own right, but for the purpose of this piece we’ll stick to how they interface with Handshake.
Ok I lied, without a service like NextDNS you’re at the whim of using an unencrypted DNS resolver operated by your ISP.
In Western countries using a DNS resolver from your ISP won’t result in too much trouble. However in some places DNS resolution in your interweb journey is where censorship can often happen. ISPs can be pressured by malicious governments to censor certain websites from the general public. The biggest reason someone in a non-repressive government would want to use as service like NextDNS is because they aid in the avoidance of pesky internet trackers, ads and malware. Though it can’t protect against all threats, using NextDNS is a great start in taking back control of your browsing experience.
They are being featured in this series is because they recently added support for resolving Handshake names [check out my guide here]. In my opinion the biggest issue standing in the way of mass Handshake adoption will be the technical knowledge required to get it setup and use it locally on their own client. But the more services like NextDNS that begin to offer support, the less of an issue that UX will become. If you’re interested in learning how to resolve Handshake names with NextDNS, Namebase also has an excellent guide.
Let’s meet the team
Oliver and Romain have some seriously impressive backgrounds. They both worked together at DailyMotion. If you’re not familiar this was at one time the largest video sharing site after YouTube.
After leaving DailyMotion, Oliver went to work at a little internet company you may have heard of called Netflix, where he is now Director of Engineering working on the CDN that delivers 30% of U.S. web traffic. Romain went on to head the mobile & TV department at DailyMotion.
Besides having extremely impressive resumes, these two Internet freedom advocates can best be described as mensches. For evidence of this fact one need look no further than their FAQ page.
We are true supporters of the net neutrality and Internet privacy. We believe that un-encrypted DNS resolvers operated by ISPs are detrimental to those two principles. Alternative solutions like Google DNS or Cloudflare DNS are great, but we think more actors need to step up and provide alternative services to avoid centralization of powers.
Where can you find them?
Oliver and Romain have strangely small Twitter followings for how prolific they are. I’m willing to be that has a lot to do with the fact that they work on parts of the Internet that so few people ever think about. In my opinion however, these two are some of the most interesting people on the web.
With their recent support of Handshake, I’d go so far as to call them friends of the network. 🤝