Jim wonders if a VPN is really worth it for daily life, and can it be used to control the content his kids watch? Leo says maybe not. But Leo says that OpenDNS certainly can. It enables you to filter content so that kids can't go where you don't want them. A VPN is used to carve out a tunnel online so that others can't see what you're doing. So it's the opposite. But OpenDNS is great for protecting your kids from the stuff out there. A new router can also do the same.
Tom wants to know if the CUJO Smart Firewall is a good idea. Leo says that he already has a firewall with his wireless router. That handles about 80% of all bad traffic. Also using OpenDNS can filter out even more. Then he could have a software firewall to handle the rest. Everything that CUJO does, he can do with other services that cost less or free. Mesh Routers also offer the exact same protections.
Tom is having issues with Google's DNS server not responding. DNS is the phone book for the internet. It takes the URL and converts it to the unique IP address for that website. It will look in local memory first, then the router, and then the Internet Service Provider for the address. It can even go beyond that to the master servers that house all domain names and DNS lookups. If it can't find it, you get an error message that there's a kink in the chain. That could mean there's something broken on your PC, or even your ISP's servers.
Alan "geeked" himself into a corner trying to protect his family on the internet. Leo says that OpenDNS is the best option because he can block unwanted websites from the DNS level. That prohibits teens from getting around it. He can change the DNS settings to OpenDNS at the router and it has great filters he can use. Then he can password protect the router so they can't bypass it.
Artie is getting his son a Chromebook for Christmas. How can he keep it safe from computer viruses? Leo says that Chromebooks are relatively virus free, so he won't have to worry about that. To keep his kids safe online, Leo advises OpenDNS and their parental filters.
Pedro created an account at OpenDNS but it isn't working for him. Leo says that OpenDNS can protect kids with a custom "phone book" that has a list of approved domain names in it. OpenDNS can then filter out the undesired addresses that he wouldn't want. If he inputs the router server settings of OpenDNS properly, it'll filter the traffic correctly. But if his kids have figured out how to change the settings in the computer, it can override that, unless he's made the settings in the router itself.
Rick wants to know how domain names and DNS settings work and why sometimes it takes awhile to get his DNS listed. Leo says that DNS, which stands for Domain Name Servers, is basically the phone book of the internet. Not all DNS are alike, though. OpenDNS is pretty good. But chances are his ISP's DNS will be the fastest.
Esther would like to monitor her teenagers' activity online. Leo says that parents should have every tool they can, but one thing she can do is change her DNS settings to use OpenDNS.com. That's the "phone book" that routes web traffic to the appropriate addresses. OpenDNS has great parental filters and blocks, and a lot of schools and business use it.
Andrew wants to know why OpenDNS is disabled on his network. Leo says it may be that his Mac is set up to do its own DNS. He'll have to go into the internet settings on the Mac and take out any DNS entries that are there. Then he should lock those settings with an administrator password so his kids won't be able to just change the DNS to something else. He should remember that as his kids get smarter, they're going to figure a way around it. So the best thing is to talk to his kids about making good choices.
You may have seen programs that are meant to block websites and protect your kids online, but these can cost a lot of money and aren't the most effective solutions. For instance, if that software is just on the home PC, kids could use a different device to still access undesirable websites. Kids are also very good at finding ways to bypass this software altogether. There is a free and more effective way to do this, though, and that's through the DNS.