By Richard Mallion
My children are of an age where the Internet is king. Everything they do revolves around Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. So I have been looking for an easy to deploy solution to block inappropriate content on a range of devices including laptops, tablets and phones.
For the last few weeks I have been using a free service from OpenDNS which adds web filtering.
For years OpenDNS have offered a really good secure DNS service which I have used for many years. For a year or so they have also been offering an additional service that uses DNS to block inappropriate web sites.
As a recap internet browsers are reliant on DNS (Domain Name System) to translate a name like www.amsys.co.uk into an IP Address like 126.96.36.199.
By using DNS, OpenDNS can detect which URL is being requested and either return the correct IP address of that site or, if deemed inappropriate, return an IP address to a page explaining that web page has been blocked.
Because we are using DNS, no software is required, you just need to make sure all your devices are using the OpenDNS servers, which can you easily do by updating your internet router.
OpenDNS offer a free service as well as a commercial package. The only real difference between the two is the paid for version has better reporting tools.
Set up is very easy. They have some default filtering levels as shown below. Which range from no filtering to some pre-configuration options. For instance, the low level just blocks pornographic sites, while the high level also blocks social networking sites, video sharing sites etc.
There is also a custom service that allows you to block specific categories of content, of which there are over 50 types.
Finally, if you find the filtering is being over zealous there is a white list option which allows you add urls that are ignored by the filtering.
Overall a very easy service to use, especially for home users.