Using OpenDNS to Protect your Business

In this age of malicious software and phishing scams, you can never be too overprotective with your business computers and data. At minimum you should have a hardware firewall (usually built into your router) and Internet Security software on each computer.

With OpenDNS you can take your security to the next level and have big company protection without the large price tag. OpenDNS is a service that categorizes websites and allows you to filter out websites based on the criteria you select.

It works by using OpenDNS DNS (Domain Name System) servers rather than your Internet Service Provider’s DNS servers. DNS is like a phone book for the Internet. When you type in a web address (like http://www.google.com) your browser sends a request to your chosen DNS server. The DNS server figures out what the associated IP Address (like 206.56.134.57) and directs your browser to the correct website.

opendns logoIf you use OpenDNS, when you type in a website your browser sends a request to OpenDNS DNS server. OpenDNS checks the website against its database and your chosen filters (porn, gambling, phishing, etc.). This all happens in the background and you don’t notice anything until you try to visit a website that’s on your filter list.

For example, you received and email from Craig’s List to update your account information. It looks legitimate so you click on the link from within the email. Rather than going to the website you are directed to an OpenDNS page telling you the website is blocked. The link wasn’t to Craig’s List but a phishing site. A phishing site is a website trying to collect your personal information for nefarious purposes, like identity theft. Some browsers (like Firefox) will also block phishing sites.

Another example is your employee can be legitimately searching the Net for needed information, say a machine part number. They click on a link from Google search and an OpenDNS page comes up saying the site is blocked. Why? Because the link was to a porn site. This might seem farfetched but it happened to me while searching for a part for a food processer/blender combo. Blocking porn sites on your business computers is a must. Many porn sites contain malware (malicious software). Just visiting the site, without clicking on any links, can trigger the download of malware.

OpenDNS isn’t perfect. Occasionally you can view sites that should have been filtered out. With new websites popping up every day it’s understandable that some fall through the cracks. Nonetheless, OpenDNS is a good addition to any business security arsenal.