Free content filtering for home or small business

Wouldn’t you like to protect your family and employees from the darker side of the internet?

Let’s build a filtering service on top of a robust backbone of domain name servers that offer anti-phishing protection and can correct common mistakes in URLs.

And let’s make it free.

Too good to be true? Such a service is already provided by OpenDNS.

This solution is particularly interesting because if you have one computer, or have a small network behind a router, you can use OpenDNS quickly and at no cost. There is no additional equipment to buy and maintain.

Recently, we implemented this solution for a family wishing to block adult web sites from their children. This would apply equally well in any environment where children may have access to a computer…like a church, school, or library.

Tech note: The internet revolves around the domain name system, abbreviated as DNS. What does it do? DNS is the thing that converts yahoo.com to a real IP address. Web browsers don’t really understand yahoo.com; they need an IP address. DNS translates between human-friendly names and the IP address space. Read more at the InterNIC website.

To begin, you create an account with OpenDNS. Then you create a “network,” which really just means you add your internet connection IP address to your account. (We’ll talk about dynamic internet addresses in just a moment!)

Once your network address is entered, you can then choose to restrict a variety of adult-oriented themes. You can even customize the message displayed to anyone who attempts to browse to a blocked site.

There’s always a catch, but this time, it is a small one. Your internet address is probably provided as a dynamic address by your internet provider. That means your IP address could change at any time, and OpenDNS applies filters for web traffic coming from your IP address. If your address changes and your account with OpenDNS isn’t
updated, your filters will stop working. Fortunately, several providers — including OpenDNS — offer free dynamic DNS services that keep track of your connection address, even when it changes.

This combination of OpenDNS, their filters, and a dynamic DNS service provides a free, powerful way to limit access to adult material over the internet. As an added bonus, it will block access to known phishing sites.

This is a much simpler solution than installing a proxy device, and is very appropriate for small organizations…including families!

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