Friday, April 11, 2014

Secure all your devices with parental controls for free!

Internet is cool, However there are websites that you do NOT want your kids to browse. And there are new websites everyday that spring up with content that is inappropriate for kids. As a parent you cannot keep adding websites to block list in browser everyday! You need to have a system working in background that provides up-to-date protection.

… And there are devices that your kids use. Tablet, iPad, Phones, Smart TV, Kindle, Desktop/Laptops, XBOX and other gaming units. You can't keep track of all of them - cannot setup protection on all of them! Or its tedious.

There is a simple way - Setup OpenDNS on your Wi-Fi router at home! Every Wi-Fi Router has support to change DNS settings. Here are the details.

OpenDNS is worlds largest internet security network.

  • They provide free web-filtering to consumers. Check out "OpenDNS family shield product" free for consumers 
  • It blocks adult content, and makes your internet faster and reliable 
  • DNS (Domain name system) is used by browsers(and apps) to resolve website name to actual web-server. By redirecting all DNS queries to OpenDNS, makes it possible for you to block/filter web content 
  • You can then go to openDNS.com and find our reports about your kids browsing patterns.

Wi-Fi Routers - Most of the houses now use Wi-Fi routers for internet connectivity.

  • All devices listed above has network connectivity and you probably have already connected all those devices to your Wi-Fi router to browse or play online. 
  • Wi-F router is thus a single point that you can setup/enable web filtering. If its done here then all devices gets the benefit and you no longer need to configure each device. 
  •  OpenDNS can be setup on any Wi-Fi router. Details below 
  • If you don’t use Wi-Fi router, you still can setup web content filtering by setting up openDNS on your device directly

Comparison Paid Vs Free (OpenDNS & Wi-Fi solution) Parental control products 

  • Security vendors like McAfee, Symantec and others do have Parental control products. They do granular web filtering and provide higher level protection. E.g. Page level web filtering against domain level web filtering provided by OpenDNS.
  • OpenDNS comes with other advantage of blocking inappropriate content on all devices as you setup protection on Wi-Fi routers. You do not need to install and configure on each device. Security products has limitations to support on set of devices and not all. E.g. you cannot install parental control on TV, Kindle Reader, XBOX, etc. (to my knowledge)
  • Paid (Product installed on device) products provide protection on the move as it is installed on your device. OpenDNS is configured on Wi-Fi router and thus limits you to protection only at home
  • With Wi-Fi solution, kids can still access all web content on Phone/Tablet with 3G network and disabling home Wi-Fi network. Paid products does come handy here.
  • Paid (Product installed on device) brings in performance delay while browsing as it has to check for every page. OpenDNS promises faster page loads.
  • Conclusion - Current solution explained here about OpenDNS & Wi-Fi compliments Parental control products from security vendors and provides greater level of protection. 
Here is step-by-step guide to do this. Seven easy steps to start protecting kids online. For Free!

Step 1 - Sign up on OpenDNS

Visit & sign up on http://www.opendns.com/





Step 2 - Follow steps on openDNS website to setup and configure DNS IP address on your router





You need to open your router webpage (generally http://192.168.1.1 or http://192.168.0.1) and change primary & secondary DNS IP addresses to the one given below.
If you are not aware of router password, then search for default router passwords here - http://www.routerpasswords.com/




Step 3 - Navigate to OpenDNS Dashboard to configure your network



Step 4 - Add your home network to your account
Add IP address shown from top of the page to the input boxes.



Step 5 - Customize web content filtering High/Moderate/Low/None



Note that all devices(that connect using Wi-Fi) will get blocked for inappropriate content. In case as adult if you wish to browse the content then you can disable it temporarily and set it back ;-)

Step 6 -Test if all works

Try navigating to any adult content! Alcohol website http://www.guinness.com/
You should see below page in browser or any device at your home. Hurray its working!



Step 7 - Monitor your network over time
OpenDNS website provide good statistics about blocked sites and sites visited over time. Visit it and keep an eye on whats your network usage.

Relax and be assured that OpenDNS is working in background protecting all devices on your network the way you configured it.

Hope you find this useful.

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