The Internet is a great place to go and learn, play games, take care of things like banking and shopping. For all of its benefits, one could easily find themselves on the wrong side of the tracks. Simply clicking a link or typing a URL wrong can result in a virus that can take your computer down for days; If you don’t know how to fit it yourself, could cost you a lot of money. There are scammers out there that try to get you to put your personal information into bogus websites and steal your credit cards or your entire identity. I’m a big advocate of using antivirus and other security tools, but they are not always perfect.
As a parent, I worry about where my kids go on the Internet. They play online games and often go looking for tips to improve their game or interact with other players. The sites they go to contain links to other sites and on occasion (frequently) those sites have malicious or completely inappropriate content for kids (porn). My wife and I monitor where they go and security tools protect them from many mistakes, but even with the best of vigilance, sometimes stuff happens. Content filters you load on a computer seem to slow everything down, and frequently crash. Kids are smart and if they have access to the software and come up with creative ways to get around filters when they want to.
A while back, I found an interesting solution for this. Enter OpenDNS, a security provider that uses DNS to filter and block websites. OpenDNS monitors millions of DNS records and categorizes the sites. With an involved community, they offer their users the ability to submit and rate sites as well. The filtering options allow you to pick and choose categories to block and allow individual sites that might normally be blocked. Now here’s the great part, the basic service is free. Yes, you read right, F-R-E-E. They have upgrade options that start at $9.95 per year and support everything from a home networks to corporate security solutions. In addition to all of the security, they provide reporting so that you can see every site that your network went to. Parents can review what their kids do on the Internet – even when they’re not home!
The simple act of signing up for their free service and changing your broadband router to use their DNS can add a layer of protection that many software tools fail to provide. That’s not to say you don’t need antivirus and other security tools, but OpenDNS adds extra protection at a price you can’t beat.
I’m not advertising for OpenDNS, nor do I get anything if you choose to use them. I just think they are a great company with a service that can help parents protect their kids.
Check them out and decide for yourself: http://www.opendns.com