CIRA giving away free online protection service to Canadians

The agency is rolling this out now to help protect Canadians working from home

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is rolling out a new service called the ‘Canadian Shield‘ to help keep Canadians stay safe as the work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program is a DNS firewall, but it has some extra features that might make people safer while they work from home, including an adult content blocker, malware, botnet and phishing protections.

While DNS protection may work like a traditional anti-virus program, it can be safer in practice, and it’s often used in businesses around the world to help keep their internet traffic safe. That said, if you’re already using a program like this, the CIRA recommends leaving it installed as extra protection.

To understand how the Canadian Shield works, you first need a small intro what DNS is.

DNS stands for domain name system, and it’s how computers match an IP address with a domain name. For instance, the CIRA’s domain name is CIRA.ca, but it’s IP address is The DNS matches these two things together to make sure that people who search for the CRIA are going to the right sites and not being tracked online.

Every router comes with a preset DNS option, but they’re not always known for being super secure. That’s where this program comes in. You can follow along with the detailed steps on the CIRA’s website to remove the default DNS codes from your router and replace them with more secure CIRA codes. This means that the CIRA’s service, which is built from the ground up with privacy and security in mind, replaces your default DNS options to keep you secure.

In really simple terms, this is a filter between you and the internet that looks to ensure you’re not being watched or downloading viruses. The agency has also made it clear that it’s a non-profit organization and has no desire to monetize its users’ browsing data.

There’s also a mobile version of this for iOS and Android while your phone might label it as a VPN you get the same feature set as online.

You can download the Android and iPhone apps for free. If you want to find out more about the service, I suggest starting with this overview and checking out this setup guide. 

Update 23/04/2020: A previous version of this article labelled the mobile version of the Canadian Shield as a VPN, but it’s actually still a DNS-based protection software.