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Monday, November 5, 2007

Protecting the home and business from the Internet.

Porn Protection

Funny how the right title on an article at least gets some attention. The internet has put a wealth of material at our finger tips. Obviously some of that material is unsuitable for families and in businesses can lead to liability issues. There is software that can protect your family and your business from internet horrors.

There is no question that there is content on the Internet that is not suitable for anyone sane let alone children.

Business owners must recognize that they can face liability issues if they provide unfettered internet access. A published company policy can alleviate most of that concern but be aware of the potential problem.

Parents need to have more concern. Mature adults have the ability to self filter their Internet browsing. Children often don’t. It is the parent’s responsibility to monitor the home computer. Talk to your children about what they are doing on the computer. Provide an age appropriate dialogue on what is good and bad computer use. A common use room like the family room or kitchen is the best location for a family computer. There is less likelihood that a child will intentionally seek out questionable material when scrutinized. Material they stumble on is another question. Over 25 years ago my own children were on-line, prior to the internet, playing a game. They yelled out, “ Dad, what is our sexual preference?” Guess who jumped out of his lounger and said, “What?” The server they had attached to had an adult site as well as the game site they frequented and they had inadvertently gotten to the questionable material. That was over 25 years ago, access is now substantially easier and questionable and down right negative content is readily available.

Even something as innocuous as the Nintendo DS has the ability to connect to the Internet for the purpose of trading Pok√©mon’s. That same connection ability would enable a predator to interact with a child. Parental oversight is the strongest weapon and absolutely essential for children interfacing with the Internet. Applying the common sense rules of engaging strangers in real life to the Internet is a good strategy. Kids should know that the very friendly 12 year old they meet in a chat room may not actually be 12 or a child. Don’t foster paranoia but do suggest some realistic cynicism.

Beyond the need for oversight is filtering software. If your employee or child is extremely talented, most filtering software can be circumvented but it will provide reports and protections that will not exist otherwise.

If your have a network it may be less expensive to look at the more commercial software.

Filtering software ranges widely in capabilities and pricing. A high price does not indicate that the software is substantially better than a free version. The idea is that it can prevent users from reaching identifiable adult sites. A key word here is identifiable. That is not easy with many sites changing their names and addresses on a daily basis. Filtering and blocking are a good start. There is also simply reporting software. Reporting software will track where the user has gone and enable you to bring up or print a report of all Internet activity. This is a major deterrent for the older child.

The following list of sites have FREE software that filters, blocks and reports. There are also two sites that have reviews of purchasable software. Generally software that you buy will have better documentation then the free software but the software itself may not work any better than the free version.

My kids are too old to need this so I have not applied any of the software packages noted. I do not endorse any of the software in any manner. The list is provided to help you make your own decisions on what is best for your home or business.

As far as home is concerned, the most successful tool in seeing children safe on the Internet is an informed, actively involved parent.

FREE Software
FREE Parental Control Software & Internet FilteringContent Filter, Free Parental Control Software, Adult Site Blocker and Spyware Killer.
Makes a strong emphasis that it will always be free.

K9 Web Protection - Free Internet Filter and Parental Control SoftwareProtect your children from offensive online content with K9 Web Protection by Blue Coat Systems. K9 is free filtering software for Internet parents....

Free Parental Control SoftwareFree Software for Parents. Control Internet content seen by your kids..
Seems like a good source for downloads.

Free parental control software - scan for porn and content audit ...Free Internet software to scan and audit content from your computer.
May have some religious overtones.

WRAAC.org - Internet Parental Control Tools,ParentalControl Bar is provided free of charge to the public by WRAAC.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free, effective internet control.
Looks pretty good.

Commercial Software
TopTen Reviews & Consumer Search are sites that have reviewed purchasable parental control software. Please note NONE IS FREE. That is not a bad thing, just keep it in mind.



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