Saturday, November 19, 2011

Filtering Your Home Network with Open DNS

If you are interested in a free, easy to set-up way to filter your home network so that ALL devices accessing the internet from within your home can be safe from inappropriate sites look no further than Open DNS. This includes gaming consoles that access the internet, iPads and even phones.

DNS stands for domain name system. When you type an address like into a browser the query goes to your internet server provider's DNS server. This DNS server translates the words into numerical identifiers (IP address) associated with locating the website. DNS is sort of like a phone book for the internet. Human friendly names associated with numerical addresses. It's easier for us to type in a name, than a long, complex number that is difficult to remember so the DNS server does this for us.

With Open DNS, you just use them instead of your internet server provider's DNS server. The difference is that Open DNS server has a frequently updated blacklist (blocked list) of sites divided into categories like "adult," "games," etc... Parents can block entire categories or simply set a filtering level of low, medium or high, depending upon need. The advantage is that you now have an account with your dns provider that let's you customize where your kids can go on the net. Most people do not have these capabilities on all devices accessing the internet in their home. In addition to all this protection, a list of visited websites is provided through account statistics that can easily be accessed by parents.

Open DNS is easy to set up and directions for doing so are provided below.
You can also tweet @OpenDNS for assistance in setting up Open DNS if you are a twitter user.

A parent of two middle school students felt this step was essential to providing an internet environment for her kids that was safe from inappropriate websites. She's posted her journey in the MSMS Facebook Group. The staff at MSSD is always available to assist with questions in this important matter as are parents within the community should you ask.

However, as with any filter on your network, it's important to remember that nothing provides 100% safety from inappropriate content. You are your best filter and teaching our children what to do when they encounter such content will be key in keeping them safe in the future.




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