PHISHING IN TROUBLED WATERS

“Family Shield” is an industrial strength service that blocks “phishers,” malware and porn.  It’s free.

“Phishing” refers to fake sites and messages that take you to bad places.  You can click on an address you think is your bank or a popular game site, and you’re taken to a fake. Often, the fake site looks so much like the place you expected that it’s hard to tell that it’s not.

There are a lot of programs, like NetNanny and McAfee, that offer protection but often they have a couple of strikes against them. One is they’re not free, and two is they tend to slow your computer. We found Family Shield to be light and fast. You don’t have to worry about updates because they happen automatically.

OpenDNS.com, which offers Family Shield, has 20 million users.

Its so-called phishing database is used by Yahoo, McAfee, eBay, PayPal, Kaspersky, Opera, and one in every three U.S. public schools. The family version is easier to set up than these large sites and you can get tech support by email. You don’t have to download anything, just follow the on-screen instructions.  If you choose “router” for what to protect, all the devices in your home that connect to that router – and through it to the Internet – will be protected. This keeps users free of porn and malware, whether they’re using an Xbox, Wii machine, Playstation, Nintendo, iPad or other similar devices.

How can this service be free? Well, they do have text ads, but you only see these if you go to a dead web address. We deliberately went to a dead site to see what the ads looked like and they were small and few. For $10 a year, you can have even those eliminated.

It’s recommended that you continue running whatever anti-virus software that you have in place. FamilyShield blocks some malware and phishing, but not all viruses. We use Avast.com and Anti-Malware both of which have free versions.

Family Shield was still working out a few kinks on launch day when we tried it, but it worked fine on our test computer. To try it, go to opendns.com/familyshield.

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