DLS Interview: OpenDNS Founder and CEO David Ulevitch
DLS: What got you involved in DNS?
David: When I was a freshman at Wash U. in St. Louis, I started becoming more active online. I went to buy a domain name and in the process, learned of the need for a solid, reliable DNS service. I was already running my own server, so I took the obvious next step and wrote my own DNS management software. The need became even more obvious when word about my software got around and several people wanted to use it. The software eventually became a service, EveryDNS.net, that's still operating today.
DLS: How did OpenDNS come about?
David: Post college I wanted to continue innovating with the DNS. EveryDNS is an authoritative DNS service. I wanted to improve the other side of DNS - recursive, or the part that maps individual Internet users to Web sites. Since most people get their recursive DNS service from their ISP, and DNS is not an ISP's core competency, I knew there was a lot of room for improvement. I also had some ideas about how to prevent phishing attacks through the DNS. All of those aims came together with the inception of OpenDNS. We now have more than 3 million users. Pretty amazing.
DLS: What has changed at OpenDNS since we last suggested your service to our readers?
David: A lot! Initially we empowered our users to block just phishing sites on their networks. While that in itself was big, now we give them total control over which Web sites don't resolve. In addition to letting users block individual sites on their network, we offer categories of sites they can block all at once. And we teamed up with St. Bernard Software to give OpenDNS users the power to block adult sites. The service is incredibly powerful and thorough. Everyone from parents at home to sys admins at large businesses love having the granularity of control. And since everything OpenDNS offers it free, it opens up budget to be spent on other network improvements.
DLS: So our readers should use your service instead of their ISP's DNS?
David: Absolutely - everyone not yet using OpenDNS should switch immediately. As I mentioned before, DNS is not your ISP's core competency. They're good at giving you an Internet connection. OpenDNS's core competency is DNS service and we provide it to everyone free. In addition to making Web sites load much faster, we've never had any downtime. Often times when your Internet connection goes down, it's the fault of flaky DNS. Some of the largest ISPs are notorious for faulty DNS. Another OpenDNS feature people love is automatic typo correction. When you're typing fast and you type "www.downloadsquad.cmo" we automatically correct it to .com. And of course our phishing protection. We built and operate PhishTank.com, the most timely and accurate source of phishing info on the Internet.
DLS: Are you working on any other enhancements to OpenDNS?
David: I'll get in trouble if I give too much away here, but I can say look for our Web content filtering to get more thorough. Right now the way Internet security works is this: you pay money, you get protected. We don't think this pay-for-protection model is fair for Internet users, and further, it actually cripples the potential of the Internet. A safe Internet shouldn't be available only to those who can afford it.
If you'd like to start using OpenDNS, check out their tutorials.