Security

Manage access and filter content with these five apps

K9 - 1

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.

Images by Jack Wallen for TechRepublic.

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.

12 comments
patmilton
patmilton

You should review Qustodio. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised. Have been using it for a good four months now and realize that this is the probably the best in the league of free software. Ease of use and features such as real-time blocking, comprehensive reporting, and tracking of downloaded stuff simply put it among the best in the ranks of even the paid software.

JavaJobber
JavaJobber

K9 has worked very well for my family over the years, even on underpowered systems where other solutions crashed and burned. It's not designed to be a spy tool like some products, but instead allows a parent to walk away from a family computer with peace of mind that most inappropriate content, unsafe search engines, and certain site categories are blocked. And, if you think a blocked site is appropriate for school, you can enable it temporarily with the admin password. If there's any question of trust in your mind, you can still poke around and see what sites were browsed even if browser history was cleared.

engine411
engine411

Untangle's basic offering is free, is business oriented, and does exactly what you're writing about. www.untangle.com

calum
calum

There are two ways of doing this. Either protect every device in the household separately which, depending on the tech in your house, can be a nightmare. Second way is to filter at the router or use a 'redirector' site as previously described or have a router that uses a listing method. The first method will require someone in the house to manage the SW on each device and ensure that it's up to date and that it actually works. Symantec, McAfee and Kaspersky all do products that will cover most machines whether it's IOS, Android, or MS based. It'll work wherever the devices go as long as these 'pesky kids' don't meddle with the SW, disable it or uninstall it. Second method allows two options. 1. Use a site like opendns.com and allow them to check where the DNS requests are headed then dis/allow based upon the policy in force. Works reasonably well but like all filtering solutions will require tweaking at times. 2. Use a proxy filter on the router. This method may allow you to run different policies for different users/devices within the household but generally will have one policy that applies to all. Which one should you use? Depends on your preference, knowledge and number of devices. Personally I go for the opendns option as it works well, is simple to manage and means that all devices are covered whilst in the home. What I strongly recommend to all is that you have regular talks to kids about the ins and outs of the internet and the dangers that are out there. An open culture will allow them to come and talk to you rather than be worried about what they may find.

digilante
digilante

any content filter can be bypassed - moreso if the filtering software in question runs per-machine as opposed to on an edge router/firewall. To top it off, some/most/all (I'm only really familiar with BlueCoat software enough to make this claim) work on http host-header filtering (ie: take the hostname from a given url, check it against a registry of categories, filter appropriately) - so if a given site hasn't been categorized, has multiple names, and/or can be accessed by using http://ip, then filtering just won't work (unless you're extremely paranoid and have blocked everything except an implicit/explicit whitelist). Of course, the more you restrict someone, the more likely they are to try to probe the restrictions for holes - and when they find one, they are going to get their money's worth out of that hole.

whatzup
whatzup

If I have a wireless system setup in my house will these also filter what is being transmitted over my wireless internet? In other words will it block the content that my kids can view on their IPods?

pld
pld

There is a downside once shared by all these filtering systems: either they allowed unrestricted web access through "redirector" sites, or they blocked everything not on an implicit whitelist (most filtering sites chose the latter approach). Has this improved any? Either way, the point warrants discussion. There is also the issue of "political" bias in what gets blocked, though this is perhaps not as crucial in the workplace.

count_zero_interuptus
count_zero_interuptus

As was said, more information would be helpful, cost, etc., but TR is somehow locked into this screenshot slideshow format and it is a pain. In future I will avoid articles built just on this.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

We use Net Nanny on some public access machines and it does a pretty good job. One of the major issues that I have found is people will use web proxy's to bypass filtering. Blocking web proxies should be one of the major tests for how well a solution will work. Bill

Frank_Boston
Frank_Boston

A discussion (or comment) of the cost of each of these solutions would be helpful. I believe OpenDNS is free; I don't know the others.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

The very first sentence is a link to the accompanying blog post.

andy.clark
andy.clark

I too find the screenshot slideshow format useless and only read the alternate top 5/10 blog entries - when available. Too bad, it looked like an interesting topic.