Saturday

Using DNS Alternatives To Help Avoid Malware

DNS is one of those "techie"-sounding computer concepts, but the idea is simply to translate something like www.google.com into the correct IP address for that site (computers "know" about IP addresses, but not what "www.google.com" means). The IP address in this case is the location on the Internet where the Google servers are.

Alternative DNS servers can also be used as a pretty handy way to block unwanted or "bad" sites, like those with malware or pornography, phishing sites, etc. before you get to them. The default DNS servers provide with your Internet connection generally do not filter for content (unless you live somewhere like Iran), they just do the straight translation from domain name to IP address.


There are alternative, legitimate DNS servers you can use that keep a current list of sketchy sites, and block access before you are exposed to them. These alternatives (like OpenDNS) may even work more quickly that the default DNS server you are using.

As a matter of fact, we just embarked on a project at the company I work for to set up all laptops with OpenDNS to try to head off any interactions with malware, particularly for our home office users.

How can you do this on your own Windows PC? The most straightforward way is to use one of several free tools available to do just that. These let you easily change to other DNS providers (and revert to the default settings too).

Helpdesk Geek has a handy review of several alternatives here.

I personally use DNSJumper on our main PC at home.


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