Recommending Internet Filters to Church Members

This forum contains discussions related to keeping families and individuals safe while making use of technology. Acceptable topics would range from how to protect families from Internet predators and online pornography, monitoring and protecting cell phone usage and text messaging, locking unwanted television and movies from various devices, protecting and monitoring computer game usage, and promoting safe Internet and technology use.
The_Earl
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Log Log Log

Postby The_Earl » Fri Mar 23, 2007 9:47 am

I would think that good logs would be the most useful way to monitor family internet usage. Blocking software is imperfect. If I have logs for machines, I can tell if someone was trying to view something inappropriate, or if they managed to get around the blocking software.

Public logs let people know that they are responsible and accountable for their usage.

I am more concerned about IM and email traffic for my own (future) children. I can block them from certain web sites, but if I couldn't live without IM, and I don't know how to filter it.

Does anyone know of a proxy / firewall / logger app that does webmail and IM as well as squid? It would be best if it worked on a WRT54G, but I could set up another firewall if I needed to.

Thanks
Barrie

JPCV_Lds-p40
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Internet filter

Postby JPCV_Lds-p40 » Thu May 31, 2007 1:55 pm

Hi everybody, i was looking over the church sites on internet about the internet filters, but i have'nt found, then i found this forum, i'm from venezuela, my english it's not so good, but i want to share with you a solution, i found a site that have a free internet filter, i think it's good, i haven´t tested yet, because i don't have internet on my home, and i did download it from my work, this saturday i'm going to test it in my mother's house, anyway i let you all the site and if you test it before of me let me know how functionally is, sorry for my terrible english, my language is Spanish, see you, and take care

http://www.radiance.m6.net/

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thedqs
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Postby thedqs » Thu May 31, 2007 9:13 pm

The church highly recommends getting internet filters for the computers and placing content filters on media sources. Now the church doesn't suggest any certian filter for obvious reasons but there are many free filters out there for general usage. Also if the bill that places any inappropriate content on a different port (I think 3200 was the suggested one but I would need to look into that) then port 80 you can use your router's port filter to block that port and you have a effective filter. Also mentioned before are logs to track what family members are going to. I have a server which monitors network traffic and logs information like that.
- David

scion-p40
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Postby scion-p40 » Fri Jun 01, 2007 6:17 am

Hmmmm. I went online about 15 years ago so I could do genealogy. Since then, I've learned to use the internet for many good and useful purposes. For a period of several years early on, porn would show up on my computer inexplicably. I talked to others doing genealogy and found that they did NOT have the same problem. I changed ISPs to one that was supposed to help, but it did no good. When I moved to another state and another ISP, the problem followed me.

I figured out that I was receiving email that automatically opened porn sites. It was not appearing uninivited--when I found my computer history (on accident--I didn't know it had one! <g>) one day, I figured out who brought that into my home. It took a good five years after that person left my home before most of the filth stopped. Now I still get the oddball "harmless" email, but it is regularly quarrantined by my ISP. The best spam filter that I have used over the years is available to ISP vendors, not to individuals. Postini stopped me from receiving a lot of bad email. The key for me was removing the person seeking porn from my home. Software & ISPs hampered, but did not greatly interfere, with his pasttime.

As for filtering software, it needs to be adjusted. Two examples: 1) As my oldest children are daughters, I frequently received email regarding my "girls". 2) Upon the birth of one child, I sent out an email announcing her arrival. Because I forgot to tell everyone it was a girl, I got a truckload of email asking me the sex of my newborn. (Remember, we're talking fellow genealogists here, & the top genealogy program of the time used the term "sex", rather than "gender".) I was too exhausted to realize that I got no email responses to my announcement. Then the phone started ringing because I did not respond to the follow-up question. They got censored from my view, due to my own chosen, but naive, filter settings! LOL!

(Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Postini. It just did the job I desperately needed accomplished.)

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Postby russellhltn » Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:51 am

scion wrote:For a period of several years early on, porn would show up on my computer inexplicably. ... I figured out that I was receiving email that automatically opened porn sites.


For anyone else with a similar problem, the description sounds a lot like Ad-ware that has surreptitiously install itself. (Frequently called spyware or malware) Porn sites aren't the only places that one can go to have that happen. It doesn't take much more then mis-typing a popular destination.

bcpalmer60
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Experience with NetNanny, CyberSitter

Postby bcpalmer60 » Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:00 am

bhofmann wrote:We have had this question come up and we usually teach the members how to go out and decide for themselves. There are several sites that rate filtering software, like http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/, which are fairly comprehensive and helpful in making decisions.


I wouldn't consider having a computer without some sort of Internet Filtering program - even after all our kids leave the nest in a few years. I've used both CyberSitter and ContentWatch (now called NetNanny), and had a number of problems with CyberSitter corrupting images on download, blocking too much, etc, and switched to NetNanny/ContentWatch about two years ago.

I am very happy with NetNanny. They were bought out by ContentWatch a few months ago, which (as far as I can tell) basically just bought them for their name and customers - it appears to be ContentWatch rebranded. Someone mentioned that you could see the names of objectionable sites being downloaded with the old NetNanny - no longer true.

NetNanny stores all configuration information on-line, which is nice - if you have multiple PCs, they all share the same profile, so any changes get replicated to all PCs. Here are some of the features that I really like:
- accurate filtering of websites.
- you can set up a shared password for overriding a fliter block. When an override is made, an email is sent to me. I've told my entire family what the override password is, along with an explanation that I'll get an email whenever they use it. That's a great system.
- previously overrided sites are stored in a list, and then you can permanently okay frequently overrided sites.
- you can tell it to not filter certain programs, such as your kids' online games, outlook, and so on. (I made the stupid mistake of telling it to not filter IE, which defeats the entire purpose of having the filter!)
- it only impacts performance a little - less than CyberSitter.
- you can turn off internet access during certain periods. The kids can still override this with the shared password, but they know I'm getting an email, and it serves as a gentle reminder to go to bed. If the kids are staying up late to get homework done, they can still do it.

One problem that I think all Internet Filters have - they are incompatible with VPN software - or at least the software we use at work. This means that I can't install VPN on my home computers. Not that big a deal any more as my work issued me a laptop. As I understand it, both try to replace one or more DLLs used in TCP/IP, so they step on each other's toes. I've heard of web based VPN, and maybe that works differently.
Brian C. Palmer
Arvada, Colorado, USA

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Sat Jun 02, 2007 12:35 pm

bcpalmer60 wrote:I wouldn't consider having a computer without some sort of Internet Filtering program - even after all our kids leave the nest in a few years.


Can I ask why? From a technical standpoint, I don't see how that enhances security.

If it's a self-control or temptation issue, then that's a different matter. If it's the latter, then that's OK. I'm more curious about the technical and security issue.

scion-p40
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Postby scion-p40 » Sat Jun 02, 2007 12:38 pm

RussellHltn wrote:For anyone else with a similar problem, the description sounds a lot like Ad-ware that has surreptitiously install itself. (Frequently called spyware or malware) Porn sites aren't the only places that one can go to have that happen. It doesn't take much more then mis-typing a popular destination.


I don't know how Ad-ware gets started. In my case, it was a family member seeking, finding, and visiting sites (that should not have been visited) on purpose. I do recall searching for seeming innocent topics (horses, shots--i.e. polio, measles, etc.) and having hits on bizarre obscene sites. Those innappropriate sites have not come up as hits since about 3-5 years after the offending party left my home. My children and I use the internet daily, too. Remember when parents use to say, "Go look it up in the dictionary."? Well, I say, "Let's look that up online." We don't have those hits that I wouldn't want my family to see. Maybe it has to do with changes in search engines & some self-monitoring by companies involved? I'm not going to test it to find out! <g>

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Sat Jun 02, 2007 1:23 pm

scion wrote:I don't know how Ad-ware gets started. In my case, it was a family member seeking, finding, and visiting sites (that should not have been visited) on purpose.


That's certainly a good way to get it started. But do you think that family member deliberately clicked on a message asking them to install an application that would pop-up ads? Probably not. It may have been an ad saying "your computer is infected - click here to clean". Or it may have simply silently installed itself though one of the browser's venerabilities much like a tick attaches itself to a passing dog.

While visiting porn sites is a factor, simply because you don't visit them doesn't mean you are immune to further problems.

In fact, I'd suggest the nature of malware has changed. While before it was intended to get more ads in your face, they've shifted to using your computer silently in the background to hide illegal activity or to secretly steal your information. In other words, before an infected PC was obvious by it's actions. Today, it tends to be much more subtle about it's actions. Because the longer it takes you to notice, the longer they have use of your computer.

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Postby rmrichesjr » Sat Jun 02, 2007 2:55 pm

One's choice of operating system, web browser, and email client can have considerable impact on vulnerability to ad-ware and other bad content.

Operating system: It is important that an operating system be designed from the ground up to have a clear and hard distinction between system and user functions. With a system that properly enforces the user vs. system line, and with proper setup of individual user accounts, you can't have one non-supervisor user installing something that adversely impacts other users or actual system functions. In the interest of trying to avoid starting an OS war, I'll leave it there and not mention names.

Web browser: A web browser should incorporate popup blocking and selective image blocking as standard features. A couple of years ago, people in my ward were talking in fifth-Sunday meetings about popup storms taking over their machine, popping up bad images faster than they could close them. I responded that if they were having that problem, they were using the wrong web browser. The browser I use takes security very seriously, is available free of charge for many different operating systems, and is even open source. (I modify the source to fix a bug that is important to me but is too minor for most people for the fix to be put in the main code base.) There are many extensions available, including one that blocks Flash content until I click on the clearly marked block on screen.

Email client: An email client should never automatically download images or execute any form of program received in an email message. With a graphical email client, it is important to disable automatic loading of preview or thumbnail images. Any automatic image downloading makes it trivial for a spammer to verify your email address as 'live'. My personal preference is the decades-old /bin/mail text-only email program. While that program is probably too primitive for many to tolerate, it does make it trivial to find out exactly where the 'Click here' link would take a victim of a phishing message that claims to be from a bank, electronic payment site, or auction site.

Another good practice is a personal page of links to favorite sites, and to have that page show up as your default 'home page'. Otherwise, it's easy to go to a bad site by having the fingers of one hand slightly off the home-row target. (Did that once.)


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