Why Net Nanny 7 Is Different From Net Nanny 6.5, Plus Issues with HTTPS & Browsers

Sep 11, 2013

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I have written this blog to explain a number of product-related and somewhat technical issues in Net Nanny 6.5 for Windows and the latest version of Net Nanny 7 for Windows, which released in June and included support for Windows 8.

There are three core topics in this blog:

  1. Web filtering of HTTPS web sites
  2. Firefox/Chrome/Internet Explorer issues
  3. Differences between Net Nanny 6.5 and 7.1

HTTPS Web Pages

Net Nanny 7.1 for Windows (which supports Microsoft Windows 8) includes a critical feature previously missing from Net Nanny 7—the ability to filter HTTPS web pages. HTTPS web pages are used quite commonly today for searching the web, for web-based email, for online shopping, and more. In times past, they were used for more secure web browsing sessions, such as for online banking.

In the past and even today, many web filtering software products do not support filtering content when you browse to an HTTPS web page. However, the ability to filter HTTPS web pages in today's web world is critical to protect customers from pornography and related materials.

Customers with Net Nanny 7 will be automatically updated to Net Nanny 7.1, and HTTPS filtering will be added; customers will be prompted to update their version of Net Nanny and the update is done automatically.

I expected HTTPS filtering to have been included in Net Nanny 7 before today; as you can see, it has taken longer to finish due to the highly sophisticated and complex nature of that feature and its integration with various browsers. 

I apologize for this delay and regret that it occurred. I welcome any feedback from customers on any issues or challenges this has caused.

Firefox and Chrome Browsers not working with Net Nanny 6.5

Mozilla (Firefox) and Google (Chrome) update their web browsers on a regular basis. When that occurs, we have to test Net Nanny on each version; sometimes, we have to change Net Nanny to accommodate changes in the browser functionality. Net Nanny 6.5 has been incompatible with some recent versions of Firefox and Chrome browsers.

I'm happy to report that Net Nanny 6.5 is now functioning with the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome. Net Nanny 6.5 customers will be prompted to automatically update their software when these updates are available.

64-bit and 32-bit Browsers: Net Nanny 6.5

Microsoft Windows 95 was introduced in 1995 with support for 32-bit applications; 32-bit refers to the amount of information that a computer's processor can handle at the same time. 32-bit systems were once desired because they could use 4 GB of memory in one go. And from 1995 to recent years, most software and operating systems were 32-bit compatible.

Today, many apps require more than 4 GB of memory to complete their tasks, so 64-bit computers are more attractive because they can use much more memory/processing power.

Net Nanny 6.5 is a 32-bit software application and does not support the filtering of web content when customers use a 64-bit browser. Currently, 64-bit web browser applications are rare and the most popular web browsers run as 32-bit applications. This means that most web browsers are completely protected by Net Nanny 6.5.

To help parents ensure that unprotected (64-bit) applications are not used to access Internet content, Net Nanny 6.5 has a feature to “Block Internet Access for 64-bit Applications." When this feature is enabled, and a user opens a 64-bit application, Net Nanny displays a message that “Internet traffic has been blocked because Net Nanny does not filter 64-bit applications." This application will still open; however, web requests and Internet traffic from this application are blocked by Net Nanny. This ensures unprotected and unfiltered web surfing does not occur on 64-bit applications.

In short, Net Nanny 6.5 does not filter web content when customers use a 64-bit browser. Also, if a customer uses Internet Explorer 10 with "enhanced protected mode" enabled, Net Nanny 6.5 will not work under that condition.  Enhanced Protected Mode is not enabled by Default.

We regret the inconvenience.

64-bit Browsers: Net Nanny 7

Net Nanny 7 is a 64-bit software application. It has no known issues working with 64-bit web browsers.

Net Nanny 6.5 vs. 7.1 Feature Comparison

Here, I wish to clarify the differences between Net Nanny 6.5, the 3-time PC Mag Editor's Choice product that has been in the market for over 3 years and Net Nanny 7.1, which released today (and supports Microsoft Windows 8). At the end of this blog, you'll see a comparison chart to highlight what I'm about to describe.

In today's world, families have dozens of Internet-enabled devices: smartphones, tablets and computers. In response to that change, we have redesigned Net Nanny over the past two years to ensure families are protected on any device and on any Internet connection.

In June, we released Net Nanny 7, an entirely new version of our landmark Net Nanny software program. It was built and re-designed from the ground-up. This time around, we designed Net Nanny with protection, reports, and settings in one common web dashboard for customers who have a need to protect kids on Windows, Android, or Mac. (Watch for a new version of Net Nanny Mac coming soon.)

All Net Nanny versions can be managed and viewed from any web browser, in one unified dashboard. This means you get Net Nanny everywhere!

Now, a family can use the same Net Nanny settings on smartphones, tablets, desktops, and laptops for any child. All reporting will include Internet use, regardless of the device used.

Because this new version is recently emerging, and new features will be released for many device types, a few features found in Net Nanny 6.5 have not yet been released for Net Nanny 7. For this, I apologize and will explain below. And incidentally, there are some new features in Net Nanny 7.

To summarize, Net Nanny 7.1 has been re-designed to be easier to use; installation of the product is faster and less complicated, the web admin portal has a much-improved design, and the web admin portal lets you manage Windows and Android devices. 

We have better defined the web filtering categories related to pornography to improve protection. Net Nanny 7.1 has a more accurate web filtering engine and allows you to create exceptions to the filtering rules for individuals.

Plus, Net Nanny 7.1 users get a free copy of Net Nanny Social, a powerful social network monitoring tool that allows parents to monitor their child's friends, pictures and posts on seven social networks. Net Nanny Social can send alerts about potentially dangerous and inappropriate communication.

Our development team is working to include many of the 6.5 features in Net Nanny 7.1. Realize that Net Nanny version 6.5 is a feature-rich product that evolved over 10 years.  However, it is not compatible with mobile devices or with Windows 8 and does not support 64-bit applications.

Support for mobile devices, Windows 8 and 64-bit browsers is not technically possible with Net Nanny 6.5; for this reason, we moved our engineering focus to developing the new version, Net Nanny 7.1.

The good news? Net Nanny 7.1 is designed for today's family and we've included new features. We are working to make Net Nanny 7.1 our best product yet.  HTTPS filtering is being added this week, as well as email alerts and the ability to override exception requests.

Customers who are content with Net Nanny 6.5—who do not need to protect mobile devices or Windows 8 computers—may continue to use Net Nanny 6.5.

Today, Net Nanny 7.1 protects more types of devices and platforms than ever before and will shortly be more feature rich and useful for families and individuals everywhere. We appreciate your feedback and use it to prioritize the features we need to add to Net Nanny 7.1.

The following is a brief summary of the differences in the two products.

Feature Net Nanny 6.5 Net Nanny 7.1
Filter Web Pages by Category in Real-Time x x
Filter SSL (https:) Web Pages in Real-Time x x
Create Custom Web Filtering Categories   x
Safe Search - Enforce x x
Individual whitelist/blacklist   x
Family-level whitelist/blacklist x x
Profanity Masking x x
Time Controls - Scheduling x x
Monitors Social Media 1 network 7 networks*
Monitor/Block IM/Chat x  
Manage PC Video Game Use x  
Custom User Profiles x x
Send Alerts by Email x x
Web Portal/Dashboard x x
Web Portal manages Windows + Android devices**   x
Reports x x
Support for 64-bit Browsers   x
Windows 8   x
Windows 7*** x x
Windows XP and Vista x  

* Net Nanny Social performs this function on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+ and LinkedIn.

** Support for Net Nanny for Mac will be added in October.

*** Personal preference based on feature set.

Note: 64-bit browsers are not compatible with NN 6.5. However, Internet Explorer 10 without Protected Mode enabled is supported.