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Using OpenDNS to Protect Your Family Online

OpenDNS

An introduction to the OpenDNS service, including how it can be used as a filter to keep your family safe online.

OpenDNS

For well over a decade, I’ve heard a myriad of claims concerning software which promises to protect your family online, and by and large the market for such software is legitimate — not only is there an immeasurable amount of garbage online, but there are countless websites/services, spammers, and so on which are all too happy to shovel some of that garbage into your life via your Internet connection.

Whether you trust yourself not to view content which you feel is unacceptable or not isn’t the issue. Trusting yourself may very well be easy to do! But it’s trusting the Internet at large which can get you into trouble.

For instance, I’m a user of StumbleUpon, and using their toolbar, I can press a single button and be taken to one of countless user-submitted websites in StumbleUpon’s database.

As addictive as clicking that little button is, at least once per session I’m given a page overflowing with objectionable material. And quite often I am delivered pages which are blocked by OpenDNS. If I was not using them, I’d probably quit using StumbleUpon altogether.

So what’s a stumbler to do?

Thankfully, there’s a wonderful, free service called OpenDNS.

Their service can be used without registration; however, you will not be able to take advantage of any of their advanced features. Without registering, you’ll be using them only for your DNS; admittedly, that’s cool in and of itself — you’ll be taking advantage of their superior service and should notice an ever-so-slight increase to your Internet responsiveness while browsing.

Before continuing, you may be interested in how DNSs work.

Setting up your computer or even your home network to use OpenDNS is ridiculously simple, and you can find all the instructions you’ll need on the OpenDNS Get Started page.

No software to install. ((If you have a dynamic IP, such as dial-up modem users will have, I believe there is software to install to take advantage of the registration-only features; simply using OpenDNS as your domain name server does not require any software!)) No hardware to buy. It’s completely free. Did you switch to OpenDNS yet? Great! We can continue then.

Whether you want to block the Internet’s bountiful cache of adult websites or not, OpenDNS has a plethora of features designed to make the Internet safer, more reliable, and more user friendly. By registering for free, here is what you’ll gain access to, all of which is also free:

  • Phishing Protection — Websites designed to steal your personal information will be filtered automatically.
  • Domain Blocking — Want to ground your kid from MySpace for a week? OpenDNS makes it easy to block as many domains as you want.
  • Adult Site Blocking — Using OpenDNS’ service, you have the option of blocking a variety of “adult” websites based upon category. These include tasteless sites, pornographic sites, lingerie/bikini sites, and even proxy sites.
  • Domain Whitelisting — Want to block all proxy sites but keep access open to the Wayback Machine? The domain archive.org can be whitelisted easily enough!
  • Typo Correction — Accidentally type in rickbeckman.og to your browser’s address bar? Not a problem, if you’re using OpenDNS! With typo protection enabled, you’ll be instantly redirected to this domain, without any hassle on your part!
  • And more!

Provided that you password protect your network configuration and your OpenDNS account, circumventing whatever blocks you put in place is going to be quite difficult.

And you’ll be able to stumble with a bit more confidence, knowing that the next time you click that button, you’re a lot less likely to be in for a shock!

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