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.
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thedqs
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Postby thedqs » Sat Jun 02, 2007 11:46 pm

RussellHltn wrote: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.

A filter could prevent downloading of adware, for example my parents use the MSN Explorer and MSN's filter at the strictest level which prevents any ad from being displayed and also prevents any execution of javascript that hasn't been previously marked as safe by the superuser. So besides the overhead of approving sites and approving requests for sites to be added to the list it is quite nice. Aslo as mentioned before it does prevent execution of those security holes.
- David

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Postby thedqs » Sat Jun 02, 2007 11:57 pm

rmrichesjr wrote: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.

Good point any normal user should be a user with limited privileges (ie Not an Admin for Windows or someone with root privileges for Mac and Linux) One way I do this in my family is have a server box that stores everyone's accounts and their privileges in a central location. That way I don't have to set up each computer individually.
rmrichesjr wrote: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.

Also the browser should have some type of phishing detection to prevent those accidental misspellings that lead to a phished website. It should also warn you of security certificate problems.
Also a web browser should have the ability to view a list of the javascript code errors on a page. (This is more for developing but could be used to see if the site is trying to exploit browser flaws)
rmrichesjr wrote: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.

Good point, most GUI mail programs do that now so make sure you have the latest versions.
rmrichesjr wrote: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.)

Or just have your list of favorites to the left of the browser for quick clicking.
- David

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Postby bcpalmer60 » Tue Jun 05, 2007 9:15 am

RussellHltn wrote: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.





Sure - thanks for asking! Because the Brethren have asked us to! This is a quote from the Church's pornography addiction booklet, "Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts" (see http://www.lds.org/topics/pdf/LetVirtue ... oughts.pdf) [INDENT][align=left]"Those who promote pornography are aggressive in their search for new users, especially on the Internet. They frequently employ deceptive practices. You may sometimes encounter pornographic materials unintentionally. If that happens to you, get away from it immediately. Resist this darkness."[/align]
[/INDENT]



Also found on LDS.org are 10 ways to combat pornography in the home. Here are the first two:[INDENT]
  1. Place computers in high-traffic areas of the home. Kitchens, family rooms, and studies usually have the most traffic. Because these rooms usually don’t have doors, they are typically less secluded than bedrooms. Position computer monitors so the screen faces out for public view.
  2. Install a filtering program, and learn its features and how to use it. Good filtering programs allow you to view a history of which sites (including chat rooms) have been visited and when, as well as a record of incoming and outgoing e-mails. Information on filtering programs can be found on Internet sites such as www.internetfilterreview.com.
(see http://www.providentliving.org/content/ ... -1,00.html and http://lds.org/portal/site/LDSOrg/menui ... 004d82620a____)
[/INDENT]
I currently serve as a counselor in a mission presidency, and my wife is as chaste as they come. Nevertheless, experience has shown that purveyors of pornography are indeed clever, and it is easy to stumble onto undesirable sites. An internet filter helps tremendously - it's well worth the $40 per year.
Brian C. Palmer
Arvada, Colorado, USA

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Postby bhofmann-p40 » Tue Jun 05, 2007 10:46 am

bcpalmer60 wrote:experience has shown that purveyors of pornography are indeed clever, and it is easy to stumble onto undesirable sites. An internet filter helps tremendously - it's well worth the $40 per year.
I agree. Here is an article about the tricks they play, http://internet-filter-review.toptenrev ... -play.html. It is on a site that reviews internet filters. Not all filters are reviewed but most of the big ones are.

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Postby russellhltn » Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:35 am

bcpalmer60 wrote:Because the Brethren have asked us to! This is a quote from the Church's pornography addiction booklet, "Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts" (see http://www.lds.org/topics/pdf/LetVirtue ... oughts.pdf)
Sorry, I don't see the quote (or the pamphlet) backing the statement that "we have been asked". Nothing wrong with doing so. :cool: But I also stay alert for "commandment creep" because that's what happened to Pharisees and Sadducees and I don't think human nature has changed that much since then.

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Postby rmrichesjr » Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:33 pm

bhofmann wrote:I agree. Here is an article about the tricks they play, http://internet-filter-review.toptenrev ... -play.html. It is on a site that reviews internet filters. Not all filters are reviewed but most of the big ones are.
There's a lot of interesting stuff on that page. The bad guys are definitely resourceful in their evil efforts.

At the risk of being a bit repetitive and possibly politically incorrect, I feel it is important to mention that one of the more effective filtering programs isn't even called a "filtering program" and is a combination of a secure operating system, a secure browser, and a secure email client. With a properly administered secure operating system and secure browser, and with a little user education, most of the threats described in the article (looping/spawning, mousetrapping, startup file alteration, many/most trojan horses, spyware, dialers, email spoofing/phishing) don't have much of a chance. Risk of bad stuff of any kind on a computer is drastically reduced just by using an operating system that has zero known viruses in the wild. Those using an operating system that is likely to be cracked before it can even download the first set of security patches are starting out several steps behind the bad guys. If anyone in my ward or elsewhere wants my help to make their home safer by switching to secure software, I'm eager to help.

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Postby garylm-p40 » Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:48 pm

RussellHltn wrote:
bcpalmer 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.
I would remove the "if" from the statement above about self-control/temptation. We can probably assume that a good percentage of the adult members with whom we associate is currently entangled. We can probably assume that some folks in this forum are entangled. You could tell these good folks that all they need to do is practice self-control. But I tell you that the proper use of an Internet filter IS self control, just as is the proper use of technology in other aspects of our lives.

We can point fingers at people whom we think lack self-control, or we can all install filters, forget that smut exists, and move on with our lives.

</snark>

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Internet Filter Review 2007

Postby ShirtsDre » Tue Jun 05, 2007 1:05 pm

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.

As having been one of the first volunteers on the project with http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/ , I can state that they very thoroughly test each of their listed filter programs and rate them appropriately. Many of the filter companies listed have sent them copies of the software in hopes that they would test it and rate it for their potential customers. The testing and rating is fully subjective to that software's performance.
-- Learn from the past. Prepare for the future. Live in the present. -- President Thomas S. Monson

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Postby russellhltn » Tue Jun 05, 2007 1:05 pm

garylm wrote:But I tell you that the proper use of an Internet filter IS self control, just as is the proper use of technology in other aspects of our lives.
Sorry, I didn't mean to come across as belittling anyone who chooses to use Internet filters. I only wanted to distinguish between human security issues from technical security issues. When someone says "x" will make you more secure, I want to know why. Part of it is to learn and part of it is to expose any falsehoods.

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Postby garylm-p40 » Tue Jun 05, 2007 1:07 pm

rmrichesjr wrote:If anyone in my ward or elsewhere wants my help to make their home safer by switching to secure software, I'm eager to help.
Perhaps we can cook up a solution here for an inexpensive home server, with a recommended hardware list, Kickstart installer, and how-to guide.

Some smarty-pants will read this and tell us not to waste our time, that his company will be coming out with a "Mormon ITX" box this fall.


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