Parental control software.

Most parents want to ensure that their kids are not exposed to inappropriate material while surfing the Internet. There is no substitute for keeping a keen eye on your kids online activities.
Parental control software and services try to block certain material from reaching your children’s computer. Although requirements may vary depending on whether parents share a computer with their children, the solution reviewed here should be useful in most situations.
OpenDNS is a web based service that in conjunction with your own system’s network configuration redirects all your browsing through OpenDNS servers where it is filtered for content.OpenDNS is a replacement for your ISP’s DNS servers. A quick change to your network IP settings will allow you to bypass your ISP’s domain servers and use those provided by OpenDNS. If your ISP has unreliable DNS servers like some ISP’s, OpenDNS may be the solution.

By default OpenDNS only blocks Phishing sites. In order to enable content protection you will need to register for a free account with OpenDNS. Once you register, OpenDNS automatically detects the IP address assigned to you by your ISP. Since most ISP’s do not provide static IP’s, the next time you connect to the Internet, your IP address often changes. OpenDNS overcomes this by supporting Dynamic IP addresses. You’ll need to install dynamic DNS client IP update software to periodically update OpenDNS with your new IP address. OpenDNS Updater has a mere 253 KB footprint on your hard drive.

After registering you’ll have access to the OpenDNS “Dashboard” A password protected control panel where you can configure OpenDNS with one of 5 pre-set categories designed to provide protection levels from minimal to high as well as 54 categories with which you can configure your own custom settings. You can also designate OpenDNS to restrict or permit individual sites. Filtering is outstanding. In four weeks of testing I didn’t encounter any sites that should not have been blocked nor any that should have been.

Reports on sites visited and usage charts are far more useful in OpenDNS. With OpenDNS you can view total requests, total unique domains, total unique IP’s and total blocked domains in a far more readable and useful format plus you can print reports or download stats in a CSV file.

OpenDNS also supports Mac, Unix and Linux SUSE and Ubuntu platforms.

Two other cool features give OpenDNS the edge. One is the ability to customize the look of the “Block” page with your own message, logo or picture and the other is the ability to create URL “shortcuts”. Enter a short word instead of a long address in the address bar and you will be taken to that website. e.g. tsa instead of  https://tech2techtalk.wordpress.com.

Two added benefits of using OpenDNS:

1. It may also give your web browsing, e-mail, FTP, and Internet access in general a speed boost.  It’s faster because the OpenDNS domain servers have a massive cache. If you ask for the same IP address that other users have requested, OpenDNS doesn’t need to look any further than it’s own servers.

2. Increased Internet security. Security expert Dan Kaminsky has discovered what could be a nasty DNS exploit that would allow cyber criminals to hijack the URL you enter or the link you click and take you to a malicious website hosted by a bad guy who has loaded it with malware and phishing attempts. Using OpenDNS servers will protect you from this exploit. For more information on these issues check out the following articles.

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