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OpenDNS and Sky Broadband Router workaround

Open DNS a is an excellent free service for home and small business* users which can give your router parental controls and filter your internet connection for all the devices that use it. Nowadays, internet access is not limited to the family PC.  All sorts of devices can access the web through your router, and as parents, or employers, we should take some responsibility for what may be accessible. The trouble is, you can’t go around putting content filters on all your children’s or employee’s gadgets and devices. This is where OpenDNS comes in. It is able to filter what is available through your network itself, and is easy to configure through a login on their site as well as a few tweaks to the router settings. It protects against undesirable content as well as phishing sites for added internet security. For me this has been a perfect solution.

However, I find that Sky broadband internet users are unable to have their internet filtered through OpenDNS because of how Sky has hard-wired the router they give you. Most routers are fully configurable so that you can choose which servers on the internet direct pages to you (DNS settings). Most people settle for their router’s default anyway, but if you want to change the settings – to OpenDNS servers for instance – it is usually an easy process. But not so with Sky routers. This is probably in the name of quality control or in order to sell you their own, or McAfee’s, limited alternative**. You’d think you could just use a different non-Sky router, but this is near impossible because of how Sky routers authenticate with Sky. Other routers will just not work because Sky won’t admit them to their network.

To get around this I have found that connecting to the sky router through another intermediary wireless access point can work instead. I use an Apple Airport, but any AP would do. I connect it to the Sky router via an ethernet cable, and then use Apple’s Airport Utility (freely available for mac or PC) to configure it. (If you use a different make of wireless access point then it will have its own configuration method). The Airport then passes on the internet connection from the Sky router to the PCs and devices on your network via its own wireless signal. And it’s DNS settings can be configured separately, it can use OpenDNS, thus filtering the internet for all devices connecting to it. In this scenario I have the Sky router’s wireless signal turned off.***

This method has worked well, and saves monkeying around trying to get Sky’s or an alternative router to work. As long as your devices connect to the internet via the intermediary access point they are fully filtered and any undesirable websites are blocked according to the preferences you set on the OpenDNS website.

OpenDNS is well worth setting up and very configurable. It can make the internet a far safer place for your family as well as your finances. I should add that if you need help making your home internet more secure and safer too, please do contact me as it is a service I offer.


* OpenDNS is free for home users, and a lot of us have a small business running on our home broadband. They also do a paid for version and they supply this to some pretty big businesses!

** Limited to Windows PCs. And PCs that you have admin rights over, that is. So when your son’s friend comes over for a sleepover with his laptop and plugs it into your network – McAfee filters will not apply.

***By the way, cunning children/employees who know their stuff could turn on the Sky wireless signal and hide it (from you) at the same time, so that only those who know it is really on, and exactly what it is called, can connect to it. So you should make sure you

  1. lock down the sky router with a secure password. Otherwise your filtered intermediary wireless network setup can be bypassed.
  2. password protect the intermediary wifi configuration – and I mean its configuration panel, not just a password on its signal.
  3. keep the local IP address of the Sky router a secret (change it) as putting that IP into a PC’s connection settings as the router can bypass the configuration on your wifi.
 
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© John Walker 2014