It is not rare for governments to engage in DNS hijacking, in order to establish their regime and control their citizens to the maximum extent. The whole scheme involves the cooperation of the local ISPs (or Internet Service Providers), since they are the ones responsible. A fine example of such a government is the one from China and the Great Firewall that they have created.
If you are wondering what DNS is, it is the link between an IP address and a URL. It is unique and it is called a Domain Name Server. The great thing that many of us ignore even today is the fact that we can change the DNS, if we want to (even though it is controlled by our ISP, as we have already stated).
The wrong link between the IP and the URL will lead to the wrong connection, on behalf of the user. Even though a user wishes to visit a specific website, according to the DNS he will be redirected to another site instead. This is what happens with various online attackers, who wish to intercept sensitive data from Internet users.
In the case of the authoritarian regimes we have discussed about, heavy monitoring is placed upon the DNS and any suspicious looking DNS is prohibited. This is why you cannot access certain websites from specific locations. Of course, you can always turn to SmartDNS, VPNs and other plugins for help towards changing your DNS. If you manage to do that, you immediately unblock websites and channels that were initially out of reach.
When you use VPN, though, this is not the only benefit you get. Apart from changing your DNS and bypassing heavy censorship, you may also take advantage of the thorough encryption provided. You are no longer visible to those who want to hurt you or control you.
So, with the right tools, you can avoid the negative consequences of DNS hijacking and enjoy web surfing to the fullest!
Image from Flickr