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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Free DNS-Level Security

I never used to worry about knowing about networking stuff; ignorance was bliss. But now, it's helpful to have a working knowledge of networking components. Not only is it easier to talk to geeks, it's also easier to know how to get around and secure a computer.

Now, something that I set (and do forget about) is an additional layer of external security: OpenDNS. OpenDNS is an unbelievably free external DNS service. What does that mean? Well, simply put, a Domain Name System (DNS) translates IP addresses (e.g. into readable addresses (e.g. Your computer understands numbers, we understand words. The DNS is our translator that simplifies our internet experience.

Usually, your ISP's DNS server does this conversion for you. But, there is so much more you can do. If you change your connection settings to use OpenDNS, they will verify every DNS request (to change from a number to a readable address) against their database. That gives them the ability to block phishing sites, adult sites, and other sites that you select (e.g. MySpace). Also, you can specify which sites will never get blocked by the DNS.

OpenDNS also provides a dashboard that you can use to see the number of DNS requests you make, if, which, and when blocked site access is attempted,

The OpenDNS website has adequate instructions on how to setup their service in Windows, Macs, *Nix, Mobiles, routers, and even Gaming consoles. Basically, you set your DNS server to use their DNS server IP addresses:

They also offer an IP address to view their server state. If your internet connection is down, you can try to go to view their server state - even if your DNS is down! As long as you have a connection to the internet, you can get to this page ( If you can't, then you know that the it's the ISP's fault. If you can, then it's either the DNS, or your computer that has the problem. (note: this is where the "how to troubleshoot" part comes into this article :)

I highly recommend using this service. It's free, has amazing up-time, often faster than an ISP's DNS server, and offers a great deal of protection. You can set it up in Windows, or at the router level. I have it on my router, so I never have to worry about it in Windows.

Why not benefit from this free service?!

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