I needed a quick easy solution for a small network I was managing. The owner was concerned about some of the employees browsing habits. He said there were issues with online gambling and pornography! GASP! Imagine that? People doing bad things on the internet….that almost never happens….right?
When you have a large environment, you can set up proxy servers, websense servers, throw a barracuda or virtual machine behind your router and call it a day. But for small networks (or anyone looking to save money!) this will work great. Let me give you some quick background on how DNS works.
DNS stands for the Domain Name System and according to Wikipedia it is a hierarchical naming system for computers, services, or any resource participating in the internet. It associates various information with domain names assigned to such participants. Most importantly, it translates humanly meaningful domain names to the numerical (binary) identifiers associated with networking equipment for the purpose of locating and addressing these devices world-wide. An often used analogy to explain the Domain Name System is that it serves as the “phone book” for the internet by translating human-friendly computer hostnames into IP addresses. For example, www.example.com translates to 188.8.131.52.
In layman’s terms it prevents me and you from having to remember those long numbers and allow us to just type in a domain name. Now every time you type in a domain name like makeuseof.com it gets resolved to an IP address by using a DNS server. OpenDNS uses this method to help secure your network (can be your home network too) and stop those kids from gambling and watching porn. (Sorry guys!)
OpenDNS is a totally free service that lets you use their DNS servers. You set up your network on their site, point your machines to use OpenDNS servers instead of your own. You can also forward your DNS servers requests to OpenDNS for a little more control. I was shocked at how simple it was and then shocked by the sites that were being blocked! Wow some kids today are sick puppies!
Sounds good? Want to get down? It’s easy, check it out…
Go to their website and click on “Use OpenDNS”.
Then select how you want to use OpenDNS. You can select a single machine, a router based network or, like I said before, you can modify your DNS server to forward requests to them.
Select which way you want to go and you’re off….
If you choose the Router option, you will see a bunch of models to click on. They will give you specialized instructions for these routers. But most of the time these generic instructions will work as well:
1. Open the preferences for your router.
Often, the preferences are set in your web browser, via a URL with numbers (example: http://192.168.0.1). You may need a password.
If you’re like us, and you set the router password long ago and cannot remember it now, you can often reset the password to the manufacturer default by pressing a button on the router itself.
Or preferences may be set via a specific application for your router, which you installed on your computer when you added the router.
2. Find the DNS server settings.
Scan for the letters DNS next to a field which allows two or three sets of numbers, each broken into four groups of one to three numbers. It might look like this:
3. Put in the OpenDNS server addresses as your DNS server settings and save/apply.
Please write down your current settings before entering the OpenDNS addresses, just in case.
You need to make these changes to your computer or network before you can continue. If you have done this correctly you will see the “Welcome to OpenDNS” banner below Step 2 as you can see below:
Then you need to sign up for an account to get the most use out of OpenDNS. (You can use it without a login but you will not get any of the awesome stats or blocking controls).
The final step is to configure your Network and Settings. This is all done from your dashboard. You need to add your network to your account and then set up what you want to filter – if anything, setup stats and other features. I choose to block spyware and a few of their categories – and it works great!
It is also a smart DNS server meaning it can translate www.google.cm into www.google.com. There are options for turning this on/off as well.
What are you waiting for? Go on… Get! Go protect your network and be the best network admin you can be!
Do you use Open DNS? Something similar to protect your network? Let us know in the comments kiddies :)