Windows Answers

Do We Really Need Another Anti-Phishing Tool - or-
When Are We Going To Use Our Good Common Sense?

Jo Asks Us About Another Free Service Called Open DNS
I found this website and service today ... and I would very much like to know if there is any real benefit to using it?  I have read literally everything on the website.  It seems safe, they are up front about where their income comes from even though their service is free.  Could you please comment? Also, I would like to thank you very much for all the informative and safe information you provide and the time and help you so generously give all of us.

Our Answer
We don't find anything wrong with this service or the site. We have no doubt they're not out to scam you or install spyware on your computer. But their service requires changing network settings and that could cause some of you some problems. The real question is -do you need this service at all?

Let's keep things in perspective. The basic function of Open DNS is to protect you from becoming a victim of phishing - right? Well, Internet Explorer 7 comes with anti-phishing protection and so does Firefox. Then of course, all of you come equipped with something called a brain which comes fully loaded with (hopefully) common sense. But common sense only works for you when you use it. We've covered "phishing" over and over again. 99% of the time, Phishing scams are conducted by email. The email will look like it came from your bank, financial institution, or stock broker, and it will tell you that you need to update you information or that there is a problem with your account and you need to login to fix it. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER click a link in an email from a financial institution, even if you have every reason to believe it is authentic. If you get a letter that appears to be from your bank, financial institution, stock broker, credit card company, etc. DO NOT CLICK LINKS IN THAT EMAIL. It will take you exactly 30 seconds or less to open up your browser and type in .

Let's make a simple example: You've done your banking at Blue Squirrel National Bank for thirty years. You recently got a brand new platinum Blue Squirrel Visa card and you've switched to online banking, because you're lazy like TC and cannot remember how to write with a pen or pencil anymore - you're so keyboard-oriented these days.

One day you get a letter that looks like it came from Blue Squirrel. It's got the pretty blue logo at the top and it starts off by saying something like:

Dear Valued Customer:

We've recently noticed some unusual activity with your account. Please  login and verify your balances and report any unusual activity to us right away. As you know, your account safety and security is very important to us; we want to assure you that we're taking every step we can to protect you, your account and your privacy.

Please login into your account by clicking the link below and verify your account settings. A few minutes of your time will be helpful in assuring that you account has not been compromised.

You may login to your account via this link:

We look forward to serving you and all of your banking needs. Thank you very much for your co-operation in this matter.


Bucky Beaver
Consumer Account Security Chief
Blue Squirrel Bank, N.A.

If that were a real phishing letter the link would lead to a site that looked exactly like your bank. When you typed in your username and password you would have either been told your username and password were entered incorrectly and then quickly redirected to your real bank's Web site where your login would of, course work. The other scenario is: you would be told "Our web site is experiencing problems, please try again later". But, by the time you see either of these, you've already given your bank username and password to a criminal who will then proceed to clean out your bank account - and pronto.


There comes a point where you can be so burdened by worry and fear that you start installing every "security" program known to man. If you give in to this fear, there will come a day when your computer won't be any fun to use and the Web will become a place of fear rather than a place of unbounded information and wonderful place to explore and enjoy. You cannot allow the fear mongers to win. You must use common sense above all.

You don't need sixteen anti-phishing programs to protect you. You need a decent anti-phishing browser (Firefox, IE) and you need common sense. The only thing you need the anti-phishing feature of your browser for is just in case you have a bonehead moment - and forget. Common sense should be your first line of defense, and you anti-phishing software a second-line of defense.

You're never going to be completely safe. You're not completely safe in your home. But do you put sixteen locks on your front door? Do you put bars over your windows? Do you make yourself a prisoner in you own home? Hopefully not. Then why let all these companies who make security products scare you. Billions of dollars are being made from scaring you - and it's not right.

While Open DNS is a free service, it is not necessary. Why make changes to your router's DNS or Windows networking configuration? You don't need to. All you need is a good browser like IE7 or Firefox with anti-phishing features built-in as a second line of defense - and a modicum of common sense.

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