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Posted: 12/27/2005 4:22:53 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/27/2005 4:37:19 AM EDT by thompsondd]
I'm looking for a good web filtering solution (software, appliance, subscription, etc) for the home. I have kids and want to try and somewhat control what they can and cannot access.

Does anyone here use the Linksys Parental Control Service, NetNanny, or others???

I know of some enterprise type solutions, but can't afford a several $K product/solution for the home. What other solutions are there for SOHO?
Link Posted: 12/27/2005 6:00:59 AM EDT
Here is a good review for those of you who may be interested:

www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1650669,00.asp



By Nick Stam

The software solutions reviewed in this story protect the PCs they are installed on. But if you have a home network with, say, two PCs you want to protect, you'll need to buy and install the software twice, set the preferences twice, manage two copies of the software, and keep two copies up to date.

Router vendors may have found a simpler and more affordable approach. Linksys and ZyXEL have both partnered with online parental-control services—Netopia and Cerberian, respectively—to offer a single point of protection right in your router, protecting all the systems on your network. Rather than locking users to specific systems with content filtering enabled, the routers let users log on to any PC on the network and get their individual permissions applied. And if multiple users share a single system, the log-on technique ensures that the filtering options are customized for the current user.

For this story, we looked at two routers that recently shipped: the Linksys WRT54GS wireless router and the ZyXEL HomeSafe Parental Control Gateway model HS-100W. Linksys charges $39.95 for a one-year subscription to Netopia, and ZyXEL charges $34.99 for Cerberian—not too bad for solutions that protect your entire network. The networking and administration features of both of these routers work quite well, but we focused our testing specifically on the devices' parental controls.

When configuring the routers, each user is assigned a profile, such as child, young teen, mature teen, or adult. You can customize Web site category restrictions for each profile and set restrictions for each user. We preferred ZyXEL's more complete list of site categories, though some users might prefer the simplicity of Linksys's smaller list.

ZyXEL's parental-control options are managed locally in the router's admin screens. The router handles user log-on validation, time-of-day rules, and restrictions on e-mail and IM. Only the Web-filtering capabilities require you to connect to Cerberian. This means that even if Cerberian went down, some basic restrictions would remain enabled. The Linksys unit, on the other hand, requires that Linksys's online servers validate user log-ons and enforce other basic options, such as time and application restrictions. During testing, the Linksys servers became temporarily inaccessible, disabling all the parental controls. But despite a few problems, both solutions were generally reliable and delivered excellent content filtering and access restrictions.

Both Netopia and Cerberian rate millions of Web sites for content. When a user attempts to access a Web site, the router sends a request to the online service. The service then sends back a rating, and the router either permits or rejects access based on the user's permissions. Generally, this background interaction isn't noticeable, though the Linksys router was a bit sluggish when displaying rejection messages. Overall, we were satisfied with the site-blocking capabilities offer both services.

Unfortunately, the routers are missing a few features that the software solutions include, such as extensive keyword filtering. While keywords can be entered manually into the ZyXEL router, it's a tedious process. The routers also lack monitoring features. Linksys offers more flexible IM controls than ZyXEL, letting you block sessions or specify trusted contacts. Linksys provides similar controls for e-mail filtering, where the ZyXEL unit can only turn off e-mail or limit when it can be accessed.

Linksys also provides more detailed reporting capabilities than ZyXEL, with easily navigable surfing, IM, and e-mail usage reports. Only ZyXEL, however, allows reports to be e-mailed to designated recipients.

Centralizing parental controls within routers is a good idea; it works well, and it's cost-effective. Although most users would be satisfied with the options these routers offer, they lack certain features some parents will consider essential.

Link Posted: 12/27/2005 6:13:09 AM EDT

Originally Posted By thompsondd:
I'm looking for a good web filtering solution (software, appliance, subscription, etc) for the home. I have kids and want to try and somewhat control what they can and cannot access.

Does anyone here use the Linksys Parental Control Service, NetNanny, or others???

I know of some enterprise type solutions, but can't afford a several $K product/solution for the home. What other solutions are there for SOHO?



I use a Mac Mini. The Mac OS allows very tight parental control. I can specify what websites are OK, including how deep the linking can go. I can also specify who can email or IM in and who can be emailed or IMed to. All of this is user account specific, so you can have different settings for different users.
Link Posted: 12/27/2005 6:24:05 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/27/2005 6:26:28 AM EDT by NoVaGator]
if you have a router, you can block domains there.

Of course, you'll never figure out which domains to block.

Here's what I would do....allow the kids to surf "freely" but monitor the history daily. Block inappropriate sites. Have a talk with the kid about it. Tell them that you'll be monitoring history from this point forward (and if history is deleted, there will be hell to pay)
Link Posted: 12/27/2005 6:28:20 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/27/2005 6:29:17 AM EDT by hanau]
i have zone lab's zone alarm it is my antivirus software
i have never used the feature on mine so i can't tell you that much about it,but have you check your virus and firewall stuff?


Parental Control allows parents to protect their children from pornography, violence and other dubious online content. The parental control feature blocks inappropriate Web content dynamically, staying current with the tens of thousands of new offensive sites that spring up weekly without requiring users to download large files. In addition, users may choose to block ads, control cookies and scan and remove third-party tracking cookies that violate users’ privacy. Users can also allow cookies from trusted sites to remain on their PC.
Link Posted: 12/27/2005 6:31:05 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/27/2005 6:48:15 AM EDT
How much time to you want to spend to set it up?

The most complete solution would be a squidGuard based thing, or something like it. If you have a older PC you could dedicate to running Linux, this would provide :

1) Transparent filtering for all PCs attached to the network,
2) Dynamic, automatically updated blocking of various categories of sites
3) Negligible performance loss

There's a nice writeup of it at squidguard.mesd.k12.or.us/.
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