Internet Safety Through OpenDNS Public DNS Servers

A DNS server is a domain name system server which translates a web site domain name (like www.google.com) to an IP address (like 74.10.67.100). Although, every ISP (internet service provider) provides their own DNS servers to be used, yet they tend to be slow and do not have extra features like blocking inappropriate sites, blocking malware or phishing sites etc. OpenDNS (http://www.opendns.com) is a free DNS(domain name server) service with many extra features. You can use OpenDNS to block over 50 different category of sites. This is why it is very popular among schools. The following picture shows a site blocked by OpenDNS when a user tried to acces it through browser :

OpenDNS Web Filtering

Update : Now you do not have to manually set the DNS servers. You can use our Public DNS Server Tool to set the OpenDNS servers automatically.

This article describes how you can use OpenDNS to protect yourself, your family from the dangers of internet. You will also learn how you can block special categories of inappropriate sites and malware, phishing sites etc.

1. Sign up for free OpenDNS account

Yes, first of all you have to sign up for a free basic OpenDNS account. To do this, navigate your browser to https://store.opendns.com/get/basic. Fill in the information and after confirmation of email address, you will have yourself a free basic OpenDNS account.

2. Add a network

Once you have an account, you can login to your account at https://www.opendns.com/dashboard/signin/. After logging in click on Settings as shown below :

OpenDNS Web Filtering

You will see a prompt to add a network with your present IP address automatically filled. Click on the Add This Network to add it.

OpenDNS Web Filtering

A window would pop up asking you a friendly name of the network. Give any name you want for your network, like if you at home, you can type in Home. If you have dynamic IP address (each time you logon to internet, your ISP assigns you a new IP address), check the box before Yes, its dynamic. Finally click on Done to save your settings.

OpenDNS Web Filtering

3. Installing dynamic IP client

If you have a dynamic ip address (each time you logon to internet, your ISP assigns you a new IP address), then you have to download the OpenDNS Dynamic Updator from http://www.opendns.com/download/windows/. Once downloaded, run the setup to install it. The installation is a breeze. It will ask you for username and password, supply them click on Sign In button and it will set to work.

OpenDNS Web Filtering

This client stays in the system tray and sends your IP address to OpenDNS servers, if it changes. This makes it possible for you to use the various site blocking settings that you would set in your OpenDNS account. This client is not required for people who have static IP addresses.

4. Blocking sites

After adding a network in step 2 above, in your dashboard/settings, choose a network from the drop-down combo box as shown in the picture below :

OpenDNS Web Filtering

This would open settings for this network. You should see the Content Filtering settings. If not click on the Content Filtering on the left side menu. You would see many options in the Content Filtering settings as shown below :

OpenDNS Web Filtering

You can select any of those preset categories to block the kind of sites listed in those categories. If you are going to use internet at home and you have children, I advise you to select the High preset. If you are advanced internet user and know what you are doing, you can select Custom and click Apply

If you choose Custom, you would see 54 categories you can choose to block as shown in the picture below :

OpenDNS Web Filtering

Choose any categories you want to block and click on Apply. The blocked categories would turn light red in color. The saved changes would not immediately take effect. You have to wait for five to ten minutes for changes to take effect. For example, if you block inappropriate sites, wait for 5-10 minutes after clicking Apply before you jump to check in your browser, if it works.

5. Advanced Settings

In the left site menu, click on Advanced Settings to open the advanced settings. In these settings you would see many options you can configure. We will discuss only ones required for protection of your computer.

  1. Enable dynamic IP update : If you have a dynamic IP address, this checkbox must be checked(selected).
  2. Block internal IP addresses : This helps blocking DNS rebinding attacks. (http://crypto.stanford.edu/dns/)
  3. Enable basic malware/botnet protection : This is very helpful in blocking botnets like infamous Conficker attack in 2009. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conficker)

After selecting these options click on Apply to save the changes.

This way using OpenDNS you can keep yourself safe from malware sites, phishing sites; your family from inappropriate sites and enjoy the internet as it was meant to be.

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