Monday, September 08, 2008

How to: Filter the Internet for Free

Last year I purchased a product, the D-Link DSD-150 SecureSpot Internet Security Adapter, in an attempt to filter out the temptations of unfettered Internet access. The product worked fairly well, but after using it for a year, we were required to pay about $80 to renew. Since we didn't use most of the features, including the anti-virus functionality, we decided to survey our options. So I began a quest to find an alternative.

A software client that monitors and filters web content is one option. There are several free options available. This, however, is not a good fit for my household. Because I work in information technology, I have more than one computer in the house, and I might have a temporary operating system loaded on a workstation at any time. If I am trying to guard myself against sin, I need to close this loophole. So a software client won't work.

Another option that closes this loophole is a hardware based solution. This is exactly what the D-Link adapter provided. I searched for a replacement for this product, and found a few wireless routers that partnered with an filtering service to provide protection. Most of these, however, were older model routers, and I was hesitant to purchase something that was not current technology.

I then stumbled upon a third alternative: This web site provides filtered web browsing for free. For free!?! With no client, how does this work? For those of you who don't know your computer from your hard drive, DNS, or Domain Name System, translates domain names (like to IP (Internet Protocol) addresses (like  Each request for a web site must be translated from a name to a number.  OpenDNS manages this system to block questionable web sites.  The only trick is turning the service on!

OpenDNS provides instructions for enabling their service for your computer or network.  I chose to point all my web traffic to by changing my DNS servers in my router.  My router serves as the central connection for all my network traffic, and all traffic out of my network must pass through my router.  Once the filtering categories are selected on OpenDNS's site, I can have someone password protect my router configuration and the filtering categories.  Now everyone in my house is protected!

You should check it out!


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