29 June, 2008

Faster and more reliable web surfing with OpenDNS

For the past week or so I have been using OpenDNS instead of the DNS service provided by my ISP. Huh? When you enter a URL into your browser, a [DNS] system must translate that into a computers [ip] address so you may visit the website. If you have ever input a bad URL and were returned a web page with search results that included your ISPs name or logo, that is the ISPs DNS "helping" you find what you were looking for.

Just a month ago Comcast's DNS systems was hacked, so whenever a user using Comcast's DNS system tried to go to Comcast.net, they instead received a web page loaded from a different website (see picture). The typical complaint from users in regard to DNS is that some web sites take a long time to respond. When I was a Comcast user, I do recall having problems whenever I tried going to Yahoo!. Perhaps a coincidence; perhaps not.

Back to OpenDNS. OpenDNS is a DNS service that you can use instead the default service (most of us use) provided by your ISP. There are several potential advantages to OpenDNS, speed and security (they are not such a big target for hackers like Comcast is) being just two. OpenDNS also maintains a watch on phishing sites, so your network users are much less likely to be caught by a phishing scam.

Using the free OpenDNS system, you can also configure it to do content filtering for you. By configuring your router to point to the OpenDNS servers, you can then block access to sites or site categories within the OpenDNS system.

Finally, OpenDNS maintains a list of common URL typos, and corrects it for you. Using their example, if you left out the 'r' in the Craigslist URL (http://craigslist.og), OpenDNS would correct the error and send you to the correct website (http://craigslist.org).

Don't just take my word for it, try searching Google with 'opendns reviews' and you can read what others have to say. Or, just test it for yourself. OpenDNS has fairly easy to follow instructions, so even the novice computer user could configure their own PC to use the OpenDNS service.

Happy Surfing!

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