Using OpenDNS to Protect Your Family 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!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Use your Gravatar-enabled email address while commenting to automatically enhance your comment with some of Gravatar's open profile data.

Comments must be made in accordance with the comment policy. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam; learn how your comment data is processed.

You may use Markdown to format your comments; additionally, these HTML tags and attributes may be used: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Rick Beckman