DNS Filtering to Keep Your Family Safe

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Sheepdog-Iconography---Digital-SafetyIn my technology seminar, I recommend that every house and business use a DNS filtering service on their connection to the internet. So what is DNS filtering, and how do you do it? The acronym, “DNS”, stands for Domain Name Server, which is what your computer uses to lookup the address for the websites that you want to go to. When you type in a website address in your browser, like sheepdogdev.com, your DNS server would translate that plain language address and convert it to the IP address, which is the server where the website is housed. In the example above, the returned IP address is http://173.254.58.172. From here your browser connects to the website that you looked for. 

At a home or business network, this connection is made through your internet router. Unless set up otherwise, your router will usually use the DNS server your Internet Service Provider (ISP) uses. Your ISP is the cable or phone company that you pay to connect to the internet. The good news is that you can take control of which DNS service you use, and you can do so relatively easily.

What would this accomplish, and why would you filter your DNS settings? As a parent or business owner, filtering the DNS settings are one layer of added security for your network. By filtering DNS results, you can filter out unwanted websites like pornography, violence or even social media. DNS filtering can be done on an individual device basis, or on your whole network by filtering at the router level.

 

DNS-ServiceIndividual devices can each be set to use a specific DNS filtering service. This is usually set through the main control panel (Windows) or system preferences (Mac). This can also be accomplished by choosing specific internet security software which has its own filtering service.

If you want to filter the whole network, you will actually change the settings at your network router. For most high-speed internet services, you have two separate devices connecting you to the internet. Your ISP provides the modem itself, this is what actually connects your home to the internet. To connect your devices to the network, most people use a separate “router”, which often also offers your wireless connection.

By changing the DNS settings on your router or device to point to a specific DNS server, all of your website requests will go thru a specific server. Depending on how the server is configured, your website may be filtered at the server. The end result? If you are not supposed to visit that website, you won’t be able to.

I’ve compiled a list of a couple services that have pretty good reviews:

While there are several services out there, these seem to be some of the best reviewed. I personally trust my family network with OpenDNS for the DNS filtering service. All of the companies listed above offer the service for free, and all of them have varying capabilities of customizing which sites are blocked, and how. After weighing the options, I went with OpenDNS, and can recommend them.

Protect your family, and stay safe!

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