What Makes A Good Internet Filter?

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ContentWatch

Even though the perfect Internet Filter does not exist in today's marketplace, there are a number of great solutions depending on what the family needs are. Below is a list of features and function you should look for in selecting an Internet filtering tool. ContentWatch products meet the standard below for providing you with best-of-breed Internet filtering tools.

Ease of Use - Is the product easy to install, easy to set up, and easy to use? Is it easy to find the functions you are looking for? Is it easy to customize the filter settings?

Effective at filtering - Does the Internet filtering software have a good balance of being able to filter enough objectionable material and not filter too much?

Customization - The ability to customize sensitivity of filtering by each individual family member is important as well.

Filtering algorithm - How is the filtering accomplished? Is it "list" based only or does it employ state-of-the-art, on-the-fly, dynamic filtering? The best solution is a combination of URL filtering, Keyword filtering, and dynamic content filtering. URL filtering is where a particular URL or domain name is identified and/or categorized as an objectionable site; playboy.com a known pornographic website or www.whitehouse.org a known website talking about the Whitehouse. Keyword filtering is where certain words and phrases are used to trigger the blocking of web sites. Such words might include "sex", "XXX", "porn", "gambling", etc. Dynamic content filtering is where each web site's content is evaluated immediately before it is displayed. Dynamic content filtering can use a myriad of ways to evaluate content; object analysis, keyword analysis, source of objects, link analysis, referring links and image only sites.

Activity reporting - You should be able to view what each individual family member has been doing on the computer. This would include viewing where they have been on the Internet, what has been going on in chat rooms, and activity based on other functions within the Internet filtering application. Reporting should be available to administrators via the Web so that reports can be accessed from any Internet connection.

Client-Server based - The question often arises, "What is better, a solution that resides completely on the client (computer), or a solution that resides completely on a server (Proxy based or ISP based or appliance), or a combination of both"? A client-server based Internet filtering solution allows you the most flexibility in providing a complete filtering solution. With the filtering software loaded on the client you are ensured that filtering is taking place anytime the computer is connected to the Internet. With reporting and remote management capabilities being Web-based, administrators can view reports in real time and make changes to user profile settings from any Internet connection.

Foreign language filtering - One of the tricks that teenagers have found to bypass Internet filters is to type in the foreign language equivalent of certain keywords. By typing in the French, Spanish, or German versions of the word "sex" or "girl" for example, you can easily bypass many filters to view objectionable content.

Port filtering and blocking - Does the Internet filter application block or filter most of the major Internet protocols? These would include web access, chat rooms, email, peer-to-peer, bulletin boards, and popup windows.

Override capabilities - Once you get blocked incorrectly, can you easily bypass the blocked function with the use of a secured override function? Allow, warn, and block - Does the Internet filter application block or filter most of the major Internet protocols? These would include web access, chat rooms, email, peer-to-peer, bulletin boards, and popup windows.

Notification capabilities - Can you be notified at work or at home that un-authorized access or blocking is occurring?

Negligible response times - Does the Internet filter allow you to access the Internet without noticeable slowdown?

Remote management - Can you change settings, change rules, and change profiles from work or while on vacation without the installed software?

FREE Technical Support - Does the vendor stand behind their product? If you have questions can you call a knowledge support person without racking up long-distance charges?

Flexible Licensing - Does the vendor allow you to install the software on multiple computers in your home?

Full Solution - Does the vendor offer a full suite of Internet protection tools that have been tested to work together.

Automatic Updates - The vendor provides automatic updates so that you are ensured to have the latest technology to combat inappropriate content.