OpenDNS: Great For Offices And Shared Internet Connections

Sharing an Internet connection can be a pretty risky move. Companies are increasingly filing copyright infringement lawsuits against Internet users who they believe illegally downloaded their IP. And even someone posting on a message board can bring the Secret Service to your door if he says someone should shoot the President. But if you have an office, you have no choice but to share Internet access. Filtering software would be impractical: what if a guest brings a laptop over to a meeting?

That's where OpenDNS comes in. It allows you to control the browsing habits of anyone using your Internet connection. This is how it works. Every time you access a website, your web browser has to ask a special server called a domain name server (DNS) to translate the website name (e.g. "google.com") to an IP address (e.g. 74.125.226.176). Normally, you use your Internet service provider's DNS. But OpenDNS provides an alternative DNS that lets you filter out requests to domain names you choose. That's obviously very useful, especially since OpenDNS keeps a huge list of domain names that might be objectionable that you can choose to block, so you can easily blacklist porn sites and/or file sharing sites, etc.

Configuring OpenDNS is a bit of a chore. You have to sign up for an account, which is free. Then you have to go into your router and set the DNS server to point to the OpenDNS servers: 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220. The tricky part is to tell OpenDNS the IP address of your Internet connection, which usually changes. You can download the OpenDNS Updater. However, if you use either Tomato or DD-WRT on your router, you can have the router automatically tell OpenDNS everytime your IP address changes. Once you do all that, go to "www.internetbadguys.com" which is a test website operated by OpenDNS. If it's blocked, that means you're ready to go.

I highly recommend OpenDNS. I also recommend using a router that supports DD-WRT or Tomato, as they are more capable and much easier to set up.

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