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OpenDNS (Family Safety)

Family safety

For the technically-savvy home, OpenDNS might be a good solution as an Internet filter. It gives you granular control over which types of content anyone on your home network can access.

How it works

  1. You enter a URL into your browser, or click on a URL on a web page
  2. The domain name in the URL is translated to an IP Address:
    ORIGINAL URL: http://WWW.LDS.ORG/index.html
    TRANSLATION: WWW.LDS.ORG -> 216.49.176.33
    REQUEST SENT: http://216.49.176.33/index.html
  3. As the text-only web page loads, the browser sends a separate request for any resource URLs in the page (javascript, css, images, etc.). If any of those requests has a fully-qualified URL ("http://www.lds.org/family/index.html" rather than just "/family/index.html") then the browser will do ANOTHER DNS lookup
  4. When OpenDNS gets the request, it looks in a mapping table to find "WWW.LDS.ORG" and returns the corresponding IP address. In the case of nefarious sites (pornography, hate sites, etc.) the OpenDNS server may return the IP address for its own error page... so the user's browser is immediately redirected to an OpenDNS error page.

Setup

Here is how you set it up:

  1. Login to OpenDNS, select the product you want (Basic/Free) and create a user account
  2. Select or enter the IP address for your router (the OpenDNS website will try to automatically determine your IP address)
  3. Specify the permission level you want
  4. Login to your router (typically the URL you enter into your browser is: "http://192.168.0.1/")
  5. Navigate to the page where you can set your DNS servers (usually you can set your IP address on the same page)
  6. Enter the primary and secondary DNS servers to use (e.g. 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220)

This will force your router to start resolving "LDS.ORG" using OpenDNS servers rather than your ISP's DNS servers (Charter, Comcast, Qwest, TDS, AT&T, etc.). You can't control what content your ISP provides access to, but you can control what OpenDNS provides access to.

Benefits

Here are some benefits of OpenDNS:

  1. Free solution
  2. No software to download or install
  3. Protects ALL devices in your home that use your router to access the Internet (NOTE: it will not protect most cell phones, because they use the cell network, rather than your wireless router, to access the Internet).
  4. Difficult to disable (someone must know the password for your router to disable it)
  5. Gives you a report of what domains have recently been blocked
  6. You can administer the settings via the web from any location (home, work, etc.)
  7. You can revert back to your ISP's DNS servers at any time
This page was last modified on 7 October 2011, at 13:32. This page has been accessed 5,482 times.

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