Enterprise Software

Five content filters suitable for both home and business

Jack Wallen identifies five content access management and filtering apps.

I am not one to advocate a Big Brother-esque environment for business as that does little for morale or instilling a two-way sense of trust. But there are companies out there that must lock down machines, for whatever reason, and need the tools to do so. Home use, of course, is a different story - where young children are susceptible to falling into the clutches of the wealth of mature content the web has to offer.

When you need to block content, it's a relief to know there are plenty of tools out there that do the job. I have identified five such tools that I believe can do the trick for anyone willing (or needing) to take the time to get these products set up and running properly. Some are a bit easier than others; but, in the end, they all do a great job of protecting you, your company, your employees, or your children.

This blog post is also available as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

Tools

1 Net Nanny

Net Nanny is one of the most popular content filtering systems. Net nanny is a powerful solution that categorizes in real time (so it doesn't rely on white/black lists), offers remote management, has a flexible alert/reporting tool, and can handle the usual suspects for parental controls/content filtering (time controls, profanity masking, IM management, and more). Net Nanny is one of the easiest tools in the category to use and although it is primarily targeted to home/parental-control use, it can be deployed in a business environment as well.

2. K9

K9 is another outstanding solution focused primarily on the protection of children. With this tool you can block entire categories of specific content, block specific websites, take advantage of "Safe Search", and even rate content. K9 also includes a powerful anti-malware tool that will protect your machine from malicious software. Unlike Net Nanny, K9 uses a web-based interface to configure and monitor the system.

3. Save Squid

Safe Squid begins to dive into waters more business-oriented. Safe Squid offers a much more powerful set of filtering tools as well as more detailed logs, user authentication filtering, redundant-level content filtering, re-programmable content filters, programmable templates, caching and pre-fetching, and much more. Safe Squid is an HTTP 1.1 Proxy server and can help you prevent employees from misusing resources. Unlike both Net Nanny and K9, Safe Squid is much more geared toward businesses. Do understand that Safe Squid isn't nearly as easy to install as is Net Nanny or K9. Safe Squid is also available for both Linux and Windows.

4. DansGuardian

DansGuardian is an incredibly powerful proxy filter that is about as flexible a content filtering system as you will ever find. Using phrase matching, PICS filtering, and URL filtering, DansGuardian does not filter based on a ban lists. The one downfall some users might find is that DansGuardian does not have a fancy GUI for configuration. You will need to edit flat text files in order to configure the system. DansGuardian can be set up on a local system or set up as a remote proxy (clients will then have to be set up to use that proxy in order for the system to work.)

5. OpenDNS

OpenDNS offers solutions for everyone from households to enterprise businesses. OpenDNS offers industry-leading maleware and botnet protection, web filtering, fast/reliable DNS, a globally distributed cloud, and an incredibly easy web-based administration interface. And for the larger clients, OpenDNS offers Enterprise Insights which is enterprise-grade security and control delivered through the cloud.

Bottom line

No matter your size or your situation, you'll find a content filtering product that perfectly fits your needs. Whether you're looking for a simple content filter for your children or a global tool to lock down your enterprise, the tools exist and are right at your fingertips. Give one (or more) of these a try, you're bound to find one that solves your problems.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

15 comments
kendrakatereid
kendrakatereid

I've been using web content filter in home and in office and I really love its best.

Sandy Moran
Sandy Moran

Now as parents, what we are concerned about most is children's online security. That's why some parents use parental control program(www.anykeylogger.com) in children's computer to block some sites. Hope we can create a healthier Internet environment for all children.


BrowseControl
BrowseControl

This is a great article. 

I would like to point out that our software, BrowseControl, would fit perfectly on this list. 

Our Internet restriction software is very easy to use - you don't need any technical skill to set up, which is why BrowseControl sell so well for home user and small businesses. 

Give BrowseControl a try - http://www.browsecontrol.com

office-tech
office-tech

We have BrowseControl in our small-medium size office here in Toronto. My Internet policy is simple - block all the websites on the Internet except for a handful of company related websites. At lunch, let my employees go on Facebook or whatever social networking websites they use for 1 hour. BrowseControl accomplish this with no problem. It was also very easy to install.

patmilton
patmilton

I am a little surprised that Qustodio is not in that list. Even though, a newbie, it is perhaps the best in the league of free apps. I've been using it for a few months now and can easily say that it even beats some of the features of paid programs. Lightweight, ease of use, comprehensive reporting features are just some of the goodies.

hometoy
hometoy

I've used IPCop, a Linux firewall distro, and DansGuardian for a while and it worked great. I install it off the modem and before the router or switch. This way ALL traffic regardless of whether it is from a laptop or a desktop, is filtered. IPCop uses a web interface (internal only) to configure and includes a set of pages for configuring DansGuardian, making it very easy to use. Setting it up this way, it doesn't rely on the individual operating systems to filter, easily bypassed with a LiveUSB or LiveCD, and will cover people bringing in their own devices. Highly recommend it.

mnacif
mnacif

I used Salfeld Child Control for some time, when my kids were younger, and I liked it very much. Very powerfull and easy to use.

cnpsys
cnpsys

Set up a client with OpenDNS since she wouldn't use other options to keep sons from accessing bad content. Happy with ease of setup and strength of filtering. Very helpful.

fijired2
fijired2

Using OpenDNS on my home router - don't need to worry about individual devices that way.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you filter content and access in your organization or at home? What tools do you use?

rpb_
rpb_

I use OpenDNS at home, and it does seem to block a bunch of stuff, but it really can't block many things because of the way it works - as a DNS blocker. Either you block all of Youtube or you let all of it through. Google image search is handy so you let that through, yet it can also return many thumbnails you might rather block. My son also managed to find a number of websites that it should have been blocking completely but wasn't! Finally, it is pretty simple to circumvent if a user has access to change their DNS settings (which they may well have on a mobile device, etc.). However, it is very simple to set up, and as I have DHCP on the router set to point clients to OpenDNS's DNS servers it covers all devices on the network (mobile phones, Sony PSPs, Wii, etc.) automatically, rather than just the main desktop that you've installed it on: the way some other filtering programs work.

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet

this is your third post of the exact same message, wording and all, since about May 2012. All the blogs were of similar topics, so in that sense these posts are "on topic". What is your personal affiliation with this McGruff site? The number and and "cut and paste" content of your comments leads me to think "self-promotional spammer". I'm holding off on the spam flag for the moment, awaiting a reply. If no reply is forthcoming, then I'm marking this one and your prior posts as self-promotional spam.

erichreyes
erichreyes

With websense, but is expensive..whay is your opinion, about symantec or mcafee solutions?

overwrked1
overwrked1

If you've gone to the extent of setting up OpenDNS at the router and configuring DHCP to point to it it's not that much more effort to firewall the DNS requests "from" inside to allow only requests to OpenDNS servers and block the rest. Then let them have at it mangling settings as it won't do any good. Another option is adjusting the GP on the machine to not allow those changes without admin authority. With proper settings not even proxies will get by it.

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