OpenDNS: Parental control and internet protection

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I have been searching for a way to filter out inappropriate internet content. I thought one time that a tool (something like iptables) must exist that has an index of such sites and their IP’s which can be used to filter them out or block them. I thought maybe one could use such an index if it exists to feed it to a modem or router and have the modem/router do the job. Unfortunately this is not possible. Actually any modem or router has the ability to block and allow certain domains but that would require the manual labor of entering each specific domain, which is inefficient in any case.

After some searching I found out about something called OpenDNS and FamilySield. It turned out that OpenDNS is actually what I have been looking for. It does everything I was thinking of and even more. So hereafter, I “outline” the four main steps to get OpenDNS working on your network hoping that this might actually be of use to you.

In all there are four main steps:

Step 1: Sign up for an account (optional)

The first step is to go to [1] and sign up for an account (OpenDNS Home [2]). It is not mandatory but is recommended given that you can  customize your  OpenDNS  settings and filtering. For example, FamilyShield (see below) is pre-configured to block all adult content. Recently YouTube was also blocked!

Once signed, up you need to sign in to you account and add your network(s) using its IP. Your IP will be shown at the top of the dashboard but this might not work; you might have a dynamic IP. 

Step 2: Choose where to setup OpenDNS

In this step you have three options for installation [3]:

  1. Computer: on individual computers,
  2. Router: on a modem or router (recommended for homes and offices).
  3. DNS server: Similar to the router option but set for a DNS server.

The choice is up to you but if you’re a parent or want to protect your family then the second option is best given that it applies to any device that is using the network without the hassle of configuring every computer.

Note that the primary and secondary DNS of OpenDNS are: 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220.
If you prefer to use the FamilyShield, use (for routers) 208.67.222.123 and 208.67.220.123 instead.

Step 3: Install OpenDNS

Having chosen on what to install OpenDNS [3] (computer, modem / router, DNS server), it is now the time to identify your device and check the detailed instructions on how to install OpenDNS. An easier option for protecting your family and kids from inappropriate internet content is FamilyShield, which is actually powered by OpenDNS. I tried this option and it is effective. Just as the slogan describes it, “Set it and forget it.”
Nevertheless, I think it is too restrictive in some cases. I therefore suggest the aforementioned about setting up OpenDNS and its corresponding account which gives you better control over filtering and other settings. For more on FamilyShield and setting it up see [4] and [5]. Some problems with OpenDNS/FamilyShield:

  • Some content still gets through depending on the medium used to host it,
  • Some content or sites get filtered when they shouldn’t,
  • Dropbox and similar file storage/sharing services can get blocked [6]. (Of course if you have an account you could undo this from your network settings)

Step 4: Flush your DNS & browser cache

You might need to flush your DNS and browsers cache for things to take effect. Refer to this page for details as per your system and setup.

QED

 [ 1] Sign up for an OpenDNS account:  http://www.opendns.com/home-solutions/parental-controls/
[2] Sign up for an OpenDNS Home account: https://store.opendns.com/get/home-free
[3] Setup OpenDNS: https://store.opendns.com/setup/
[4] Setup FamilyShield: https :// store.opendns.com / familyshield /setup/
[5] http:// blog.opendns.com /2010/06/23/introducing- familyshield -parental-controls/
[6] Dropbox can get block: https://support.opendns.com/entries/21693364-Is-Dropbox-a-P2P-File-Sharing-site-

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