One of the more common concerns I hear from both parents and employers is how they can keep questionable content off the computer of their kids and employees. The most common way to do this is by the use of a content filtering system. The problem with content filtering systems are that they are generally difficult to implement, difficult to manage, and often costly. However, within the last year, a new content filtering service has become available that is relatively simple to implement, nearly no work to manage, and is completely free!
The service is called OpenDNS. Once configured, the service can content filter an entire network or a single computer. It can filter out over 30 categories of content, such as adult, gambling, phishing, and weapon sites. Setting up OpenDNS utilizes the existing domain name system that is part of every computer so it does not require any software to be installed. Since the content lists are maintained by OpenDNS, you do not need to download updates or otherwise perform any maintenance yourself.
I’ve set up this service for several of my clients and use it in my own store. So far it has lived up to its promise. As simple as the service is to describe and setup, it really does appear to be as powerful as it claims. The reason that OpenDNS is free to use is because they generate revenue by displaying ads when a user types an incorrect address or hits a site that is blocked by the content filter. At first this sounds somewhat concerning, but I’ve observed this in practice and in my opinion, it is very unintrusive.
Now be aware that content filtering using OpenDNS is not infallible. A technically savvy user could easily figure out how to work around OpenDNS if a computer’s settings are not locked down. There are ways to prevent savvy users from getting around OpenDNS, but be aware that those methods involve additional work or cost. These measures may certainly be worth the cost, and some computers may already be locked down, but I simply want to make people aware of the limitations.
If you are interested in content filtering one computer, a few computers, or a whole network of computers, please let me know. We can discuss OpenDNS and other content filtering systems to make sure you find a system that works best for your situation.