One of the questions I am asked most when I am presenting to new or prospective Therap customers is, “How can I control what websites my staff go to?”

There are of course many, many solutions.  We will, of course, be discussing them all at the Provider Administration Conference (ever get the feeling that you should be signing up?)

Some of the solutions include filtering software, managed networks, kiosk software, and suchlike.

The latest thing I have been trying out (I am actually using it at home), is DNS filtering.

The basic idea is this:

  • When you type in a web address, there is a computer out there that figures out which website you want to look at and points you to it.
  • This is normally done by your Internet Service Provider.
  • If instead, you change to another DNS service, you may have the ability to say which ones of those websites people are allowed to go to.

Screenshot of Open DNS

The service that I am using (on the recommendation of Matt over at Occazio) is called OpenDNS.  Basic functionality if free, and all you have to do is point your router to their servers rather than the standard ones for your ISP (if you can set up a home wireless network, you can do this.  If not, give Matt a buzz!).

Open DNS then gives you a panel to manage what sites are available and what aren’t.  For a small fee you get even more control and addition tools for managing many sites.

The thing I like about this is that all the control is being done out there in the cloud, there is no need to log into the software or router if you want to change something or run a report on what sites are being visited.

Interestingly, Google has just announced a DNS Services.  No controls yet, but you can be sure that they will come.  (and of course, Google will know your every last movement, but they probably do already)

:: Justin ::

UPDATE: Here’s what Open DNS had to say about Google