OpenDNS for school web content filtering

27 02 2008

OpenDNS

In an effort to help improve web content filtering to remove objectionable material, I am testing OpenDNS. The setup was done in about 5 minutes, and required little more than creating an account with OpenDNS and then pointing our DNS servers to forward any requests not handled by our internal DNS to OpenDNS servers.

What are some of the features offered?

  1. Custom pages that are shown when a user attempts to access a blocked web site or page. Users can choose to send a message from the blocked page if they feel it should be unblocked, and an email will be sent to the account administrator with the details.
  2. The ability to block categories of sites (i.e. gambling, tasteless) or individual sites.
  3. The ability to add specific sites to a whitelist.
  4. Detailed statistical reports showing how many requests were received by OpenDNS servers, at what time, and which blocked sites have been accessed.
  5. Typo corrections. If I accidently type in http://www.wikipedia.og instead of http://www.wikipedia.org, OpenDNS will correct the error and forward the request to http://www.wikipedia.org.
  6. Network shortcuts. I can add a shortcut called “gmail” so that users simply have to type “gmail” into their web browser, and the request will be forwarded to http://gmail.google.com.
  7. Anti-phishing checks. If a site is labelled as a phishing site, OpenDNS will block access to it.

So far, I am very impressed, and we will continue to test the system to determine if it is a viable long term option for the school.

Jason

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