As kids grow older they begin to adventure out on the wide open, unprotected internet, and you start to wonder how to protect them from harmful sites. If fact, you may be wondering how to protect yourself from harmful and malicious web sites. A service called OpenDNS is a great tool to help protect you and your family from the unknowns of the internet and to block certain categories of sites from the prying eyes of your adventurous children.
What is OpenDNS
OpenDNS is a service that handles your networks DNS (Domain Name System). Basically, DNS is responsible for taking a web sites friendly name, like google.com, and converts it to the actual address for the web server, or servers, that are hosting the site. By default, your ISP provides DNS to your home network and you have no control over what addresses it translates. OpenDNS on the other hand gives you the ability to block specific URL's, like facebook.com, or complete categories of websites, like Social Networks, which would include facebook.com, instagram.com and many others. In addition, OpenDNS can protect your computers by blocking known sites that contain viruses and malware.
Now, you can buy applications like Norton 360 but these applications only work on the computers that you install it on. Rarely do they work on other devices in the house, like iPads, Kindles, Nintendo DS's, Xbox's, etc. OpenDNS is not an application that is installed. Instead, you configure your home router to use OpenDNS as it's DNS and the beauty is that the whole network and every device on it is now protected and filtered.
As good as OpenDNS is, there are a few limitations that must be brought to your attention.
Sophisticated users can bypass the protection by changing the devices DNS manually. When you connect a device to your network, your router automatically tells it what to use for DNS. However, you can manually change this to another DNS address which bypasses the protections OpenDNS is providing for you. There are ways to prevent someone from doing this on your network, but that is another topic.
OpenDNS is not a replacement for Anti-virus/Anti-malware software. While it is capable of preventing you from opening web sites with known viruses and malware, it can’t prevent what it doesn’t know about and it cannot scan your PC’s files to look for infections. Always use a good Anti-virus application. I likeMicrosoft Security Essentials because it is free, light weight, and does a great job.
So, if you are interested in protecting your kids from seeing undesirable web sites, interested in protecting yourself from maleware, botnets, phishing attacks, and don't want to buy expensive software to install on all of you devices, check out OpenDNS. I use this on my home network and could not be happier.
I recommend the free version to start with and it gives you access to most features. Later, if you are interested in more bells and whistles then $20 a year is well worth it.