OpenDNS Finally Configured

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Finally got around to spending 5 minutes configuring my home network to use OpenDNS. I figured that it is just one more layer of protection I can give my network. OpenDNS gives you the ability to perform internet filtering and gives you an additional layer of protection from phishing sites for free. It’s simply amazing that just a few years ago we used to pay for some major hardware/software solutions that provided the same level of protection. I know of quite a few companies that are still paying for subscription services for the something they could get for free now.

Set up is extremely easy – the website walks you through the process step by step for configuring your workstation, or your router, or your DNS server to use the OpenDNS service. They even have a screen shots of common home routers to help you visually determine what router you have. In most cases it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to complete the entire setup.

It’s basically a three step process:

1 – Change your DNS settings: For workstations, you basically change your DNS server. Internal DNS servers, I use Microsoft DNS on a Win2K3 server, you basically set the forwarding ip address of all domains outside of your internal network. Lastly for home routers, you change the DNS server — typically replacing the DNS server IP address your broadband company is defaulting you too.

2 – Create a free OpenDNS Account: all that is required here is a valid email address, a user name that isn’t already taken, and a password. You can use OpenDNS without creating an account, but if you want to use the advance features of web content filtering, etc. you have to have an account. In this process you will create a profile for your network.

For those of you with broadband routers, or you have a dynamic IP address for your internet facing interface, OpenDNS has an application you can run on a machine in your network, that will automatically update OpenDNS with your dynamic IP address every 30 minutes. Big props go out to OpenDNS for not leaving the Mac people out in the cold – you can run their application on Windows or Mac.

3 – Manage settings in your Dashboard: Here you log into your dashboard and adjust the settings of the service. For instance, below is the setting for content filtering:

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I’ve been using the service all day and I’m pretty happy with it. It doesn’t seem be any slower than using my ISPs DNS servers. The only downside that I’ve seen so far is that if you attempt to access a site that is a little slow in responding, you will get the generic redirection page saying that the site isn’t responding. I seem to be getting more of these types of redirects than normal since I’ve switched over. Maybe there is something I can do to modify the behavior — like give sites another 5 seconds to respond. Or maybe, it’s just my luck that a lot of the sites that I’ve hit today were truly not available.

If you don’t have the service enabled, you should have your head examined. It’s another layer of protection that you get for only 5 minutes worth of work.

Good luck!

-JT

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