Information Regarding Web Filtering

By: carolyn

As an employer of a business you want your employees to be as productive as possible and one way of doing this is by blocking Internet access to non-work related site such as sites containing adult material and offensive material. As a parent you want to stop your young children gaining access to material on the Internet that is unsuitable for them and as a teacher you want to stop access to explicit Internet content as well as pre-written essays and exam cheats. All of these issues can be resolved with a simple piece of software.

Web filtering is the most widely used technological tool to protect against exposure to inappropriate material on the Internet. These web filters can be configured to deny access to a substantial amount of adult orientated explicit material from commercial web sites. However no filter is perfect, they can all have their downfalls such as over-blocking which is when a filter is highly effective at screening out content that it often blocks content that is needed.

Most filters have default settings, which block out anything that it feels to be offensive even though the content of the site could be completely innocent, such as a sex education site or an art site that features nude paintings, this is why it is important that when you use your web filtering software you alter the customised settings so that the content that is being blocked is stated by you and all of the content that you actually need is still getting through.

There are many different types of filters available to you; choosing one should be based on which one most suits your needs, the most popular forms of content filters are as follows:

&bullClient-side filters = this is installed as software onto your computer and can be customised to meet your needs. This form of web filter also has the option of being disabled by simply entering a password, which will turn the filter off

&bullContent Limited ISP's = these Internet service providers offer access to only a subset of Internet content. This software carefully reviews and assess the web site for appropriateness and any emails or instant messages that are received are only from specified parties or other users of the system

&bullServer side filters = Users at all access points within the institution are subject to the access policy defined by the institution

&bullSearch engine filter = search engines such as Google and AltaVista offer users the option of turning the safety filter on or off, so you have the option of accepting inappropriate links from search engines, the downfall of this is that if the web site address is known, access can still be gained.

A lot of web filters work on keyword blocking and site blocking. Keyword blocking works on the basis of a list of forbidden words. With this option your web filter will scan emails and other chat functions for words that appear on this forbidden list.

Site blocking works on the principle of a black list of web sites to which access is not allowed, such as pornographic sites and sites containing other offensive material. This list is initially drawn up by your service provider but gives you the option of adding sites to it as well as taking them away.

Web filtering allows an essence of protection and control, no matter what you are using it for.

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