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. Sign up for TechRepublic's Five Apps newsletter! Subscribe 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.See Also: Small Appliance Repair Austin
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Until recently, K-12 web filtering has been dominated by hardware solutions. Prior to the enactment of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) nearly 15 years ago, schools had little need or opportunity to change a system that was considered to be acceptable and the norm. However, given the shift towards cloud computing in the last few years, schools are finding more reason to abandon traditional web filtering options in favor of other, hardware-free solutions.
Here are the five reasons why appliance-based web filtering is dying in K-12: 1) They don’t have school-focused features Yes, general enterprise solutions are built with plenty of add-ons that are intended to increase security – yet these services don’t address school-specific issues like classroom management, safe social media, and cyberbullying. Some filtering solutions cast a blanket ban over video streaming sites like YouTube, which can be a very helpful educational resource.
In an effort to protect students from the unsavory side of the site, they block all content instead of building upon features like YouTube Safety Mode or YouTube for Schools in order to create a safe YouTube. 2) They’re too expensive These add-ons add up. Even though schools don’t need the extra features that enterprise solutions provide, they are required to pay the price. A 2014 article by KQED showed that school web filters can cost as much as $40 per student.
Large corporations are able to pay these fees, but schools often cannot. Moreover, with hardware solutions, schools must pay for the web filtering box in addition to annual per user license costs. As their 1:1 take home programs scale, schools may need to purchase additional boxes to support their program’s expansion, as one appliance often can only support a few hundred devices at a time. 3) They’re not designed to filter students at home One big distinction between businesses and schools is that the former has no interest or requirement to enforce off-site web filtering.
On the other hand, schools are increasingly adopting 1:1 take-home programs, an arrangement in which each student takes a school-provisioned device home to use for school assignments. Naturally, a big concern for schools is being able to manage what students are doing on the device when they are away from school. This is an area in which appliance web filters once again come up short. When the 1:1 device is at home with the student, all traffic needs to be routed from the student’s home to the the appliance on school grounds and then back out to the Internet.
This imposes limits on at-home browsing speeds, as the device is often limited by the school’s bandwidth uplink. 4) They require nontrivial setup and maintenance So a school has decided to buy the service. Then what? With an appliance-centered web filtering approach, IT admins have to wait for the box to be shipped (days later) and then start the set-up process (days later). These admins are also responsible for network uptime even outside of school hours.
For instance, if the web filtering appliance is impacted by a storm, the admin needs to make an on-site visit to get everything back up and running, if they even can. 5) There are alternative solutions! With the advent of solutions like safe web browsers, Chrome extensions (for devices running Chrome OS and/or the Chrome browser), and cloud-based web filtering, schools now have the freedom to depart from traditional appliance-based solutions.
Typically used for iPads, schools can enforce the use of safe web browsers so that students can only access a subset of pre-approved content on the Internet. For schools using Google Apps for Education (GAfE), IT Admins have the ability to manage devices and push out Chrome extensions from a central console. Cloud-based web filtering allows schools to enjoy the granularity of an appliance while getting set up in minutes and managing all students’ devices and reporting in the cloud.
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