OpenDNS - Faster and Safer Internet
I know some of you use the free OpenDNS service, and I've recommended it here for faster web page loading. But faster Web surfing is not all OpenDNS has to offer. OpenDNS also has some features to make Internet usage safer, for both adults and curious kids. Read on to learn how it works...
Speed and Safety
In my article, Speed Up Web Surfing With Alternate DNS, I "de-geekified" how the Internet's DNS (domain name service) gets you where you want to go online, and how you can squeeze a little extra speed out of your internet connection by using an alternative DNS service, instead of the one your Internet provider offers.
OpenDNS is one such service, used by over 60 million people at Fortune 50 companies, small businesses, schools, and home. The free service doesn't require you to sign up for anything, or install any software. By twiddling a few numbers in your router's setup screens, you can speed up web surfing. But you can also filter out malware, phishing sites, botnets, and adult content if desired.
OpenDNS includes one of the leading anti-phishing projects on the Internet. PhishTank.com is a collaborate effort to identify and block phishing Web sites one bogus URL at a time. Any registered user can submit a suspected phish to PhishTank via email or the site’s “Add A Phish” uploading feature.
Each suspect URL is evaluated by a worldwide community of security consultants, academics, and registered users. When at least two users agree it’s a phish, the bogus URL is added to PhishTank’s database of verified phishing links. The number of votes needed to verify a phish varies depending on the reputations of the voters. Reputation is established by being right more often than you are wrong. Users who submit lots of false positives – URLs that turn out not to be phishing sites – and who, more often than not, incorrectly label others’ submissions as phish or not-phish, will have lower reputation ratings.
False positives – URLs incorrectly labeled “phish” by the community – can also be reported. PhishTank’s staff will review the classification and revise it if warranted. OpenDNS draws upon many resources such as PhishTank to decide which URLs and IP addresses to blocks for its users who have phishing protection enabled. It’s possible that a URL labeled “phish by the PhishTank community will not be blocked by OpenDNS.
Separately, OpenDNS offers parents the option to block access to domains labeled by the PhishTank community with tags such as “adult,” “violence,” “social network,” “file sharing,” and so on. Registered users can tag a domain, but it takes a consensus of the community to make that tag “stick.”
But Does It Work?
Frankly, I am skeptical about the “wisdom of the crowd” method used by PhishTank and OpenDNS. Phishing sites come and go rapidly, and I can’t believe that a “committee” of tens of thousands can keep up with the bad guys on every front. But if it blocks the most common phishing attacks, there's value in that.
The “parental controls” are probably more effective; porn, piracy and social media sites don’t change domain names nearly as often as phishing sites do. But like every parental-control program ever created, OpenDNS blocks some sites that arguably are not harmful to children. Also, its blocking applies to one’s entire network, so Mom and Dad have to give themselves permission to view “adult” sites like La Leche League, or shop at Victoria's Secret.
Worst of all, the free OpenDNS protects only one’s home (or business) fixed-base network. It doesn’t cover the smartphones or tablets on which kids spend most of their lives. An enterprise service called “Umbrella” covers iPhones and iPads, but there’s nothing for Android or other mobile operating systems. “Prosumer” pricing for 1 to 5 iOS devices is $20 per device.
On June 30, 2015, Cisco Systems announced its intention to acquire OpenDNS for $635 million in cash. Cisco is buying OpenDNS for its enterprise-class (business) services, and has pledged to maintain the free OpenDNS services after the purchase. But you can probably expect some upselling efforts once that deal is completed in 2016.
Do you use an alternative DNS offering to boost your speed or security online? Your thoughts are welcome, post a comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 2 Jul 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- OpenDNS - Faster and Safer Internet (Posted: 2 Jul 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved