OpenDNS update

by billso on Tuesday, 15 January 2008

I men­tioned OpenDNS on 3 Sep­tem­ber and 13 July of 2007. This is a free ser­vice that looks up domain names. Domain names rep­re­sent the numeric IP (Inter­net Pro­to­col) addresses that are used on every server. The Domain Name Sys­tem (DNS) is highly dis­trib­uted, and a good tar­get for all sorts of legal and ille­gal opportunities.

OpenDNS is much faster than the domain name servers I’ve used at other ISPs. Every ISP has to pro­vide DNS ser­vices to sub­scribers. The DNS servers are an impor­tant part of main­tain­ing a fast con­nec­tion, but some ISPs just do not man­age their DNS servers well.

OpenDNS a great way to speed up an Inter­net con­nec­tion, espe­cially for res­i­den­tial and WiFi users, by out­sourc­ing every domain name lookup request to a ded­i­cated set of very fast servers in North Amer­ica and Europe.

It’s hard to beat secure, fast and free.

OpenDNS also includes some nice secu­rity fea­tures. The ser­vice will block phish­ing and adult web sites, using a con­stantly updated list of known servers. This is a more ele­gant solu­tion that pro­pri­etary secu­rity soft­ware that usu­ally slows down a Win­dows or Mac computer.

Late last year, OpenDNS asked users to rec­om­mend the ser­vice to schools and uni­ver­si­ties. A recent arti­cle in THE Jour­nal reports that over 10,000 edu­ca­tional orga­ni­za­tions have adopted OpenDNS services.

Crack­ers have started to attack domain name servers, insert­ing false domain name entries that redi­rect users from well-known sites to forg­eries. Schools and edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions are an attrac­tive tar­get for these attacks, as their IT secu­rity is some­times less than ade­quate. In the past, school email servers have been a pri­mary tar­get for bot­nets. Hack­ers break into these servers, which can then be used to send spam. The legit­i­mate users of these servers may not real­ize their email sys­tem has been com­pro­mised until their ISP cuts off their email access.

Installing OpenDNS on a per­sonal com­puter is easy to do. I would not rec­om­mend that employ­ees do this on their com­pany com­puter with­out the sup­port of their IT depart­ment, as some com­pa­nies main­tain spe­cific entries in their own domain name servers.

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