What do I
Need to be safe?
choosing a filter? Here are some criteria and ratings to help you decide.
1 Features of the filters
2 Methodology used by the filters
3 Relative Strength of the Filters
4 Or use our Decision Tree
to make decisions based on what's important to you.
Still can't Decide? Try our Sampler CD ROM
|1. Automatic Server Updates
Definition: The filter manufacturer is has a team that finds objectionable sites,
catalogs them, updates their servers and the software automatically updates with the new
info without your intervention. It is impossible to be always 100% protected if
you're required to type in objectionable words or sites, or if you have to download
updates regularly. Knowing human nature it just won't happen. Ease of use ultimately means
that the internet filter provider's server does the work, and professionally maintains the
2. Adult password overrides
Let's face it. Internet filters are not just for kids. A lot of adults get trapped
as well. The "adult administrator" feature is really little protection for
someone intent on viewing objectionable content. To be really safe, get a filter that
provides the capability for adults to NOT overide the filter!
|Perhaps the first thing to consider is the methodology used by the
filter in Question.
White List Filtering - This method
previews sites, adds acceptable sites to the white list (allowable list), and rejects all
sites that are not on the acceptable site list. The block can be overridden
by a parent or administrator; Kidsnet users seeking access to a blocked site which they
believe should be on the okay list can also submit a site for review and if it is approved
will be added to the approved list, generally within 24 hours.
* Software using this technique: Kidsnet
* Best suited for: Young Children (11 and younger)
Black List Filtering - This method finds
objectionable sites and adds it to a list. All sites on the list are blocked. The block
can be overridden by a parent or administrator; sites can be submitted to the list keeper
for sites to either be added or removed.
* Software using this technique: S4F Filterpak, Weblocker
* Best suited for: Older Children and Adults (12 and over)
Keyword Filtering -
This method uses a list of forbidden words such as "XXX" and blocks any page or
site that contains the word. Often is the cause of sites being wrongfully blocked;
for instance in the above case a site about "Superbowl XXX" would be blocked.
* Software using this technique: Weblocker, CyberSentinel
* Best suited for: Situations where blocking by category (illegal, drugs, etc.) is
not a concern.
Heuristic Analysis & Keyword Filtering
- This method uses a combination of a black list of pre-programmed phrases, words
combined with programming that quickly analyzes the website seeking known design
techniques used by adult site operators to identify adult oriented content. Very effective
against adult sites because such techniques are almost always used so the site can be
found in search engines
* Software using this technique: CyberSentinel
* Best suited for: Situations where primary concerns are adult sites and chatting
with cyberpredators. (Such chats are also blocked.)
|Relative Strengths of the various filters:
|Filtering: Internet Sites
|Safest online environment: Kidsnet (Only pre-approved sites are
Best kept block list: S4F Filterpak (Professionally
maintained database of objectionable sites.)
(Weblocker's list is submitted by users; CyberSentinel does not use a block list;
Kidsnet uses an include list not a block list)
|Filtering: Chat/Instant Messagingedators
|Best Protection against cyberpredators:
(CyberSentinel is the only one with an extensive database of phrases and tactics
used by that allow it to shut down those types of conversations)
|Content Filtering in Email: CyberSentinel
(CyberSentinel is the only one that can block on keys words (profanity, adult
come-ons, etc.) and shut down the email before it is read.)
|Profiles for different
|Allows Profiles for diffent Users: Kidsnet, S4F Filterpak, Weblocker (All allow profiles
for different users; Kidsnet also has preset categories for 4 different age groups.)
|Logs information on visited sites: CyberSentinel, Guardian Monitor