Useless content keeps piling on the Internet every day. At the very least, it can lead to waste of time and resources, while in the worst case, it can cause harm to both children and adults alike. Hence, it is important that such wasteful and harmful content be restricted from entering our homes and our organizations. With that in mind, in this BusinessZeal article, we list some of the best web content filtering software available.
Did You Know?
Net Nanny was the first Internet filtering software meant for PCs. It was conceptualized by Gordon Ross in 1994, after seeing a sting operation on a pedophile soliciting a child on an online chat forum.
For a long time, the anguished cries of parents who are worried that their children might be viewing inappropriate content on the Internet have gone unheard. The sorrow of employers whose employees waste the company’s precious online time, has until now known no bounds. But no more! It is time for us all to unite and fight these uninvited monsters of the Internet. Today, like the great wizard Gandalf, we shall stand and say, useless content, you shall not pass!
Be it a result of parent’s concerns or employer’s discretion, filtering online content has become the need of the hour. To cater to this, many filtering software have been introduced in the market. Though not all of them will do the job properly, there are quite a few that stand out. In the following lines, we list the top 5 best paid and free web filtering software available today.
Parents, if your children do not behave, then you should probably get the Nanny! Net Nanny is the original PC-based Internet content filtering software. It was first designed to keep children safe from harmful content on the Internet, and till date has managed to keep that flame burning bright. It is great for home users, but can also be used by small businesses.
1) This software provides dynamic content filtering, wherein, a real-time categorization of content is performed every time an Internet search is made. This is much more efficient than a simple static keyword-based filtering system.
2) It provides total control to parents, allowing them to set access-passwords, decide online time, and even restrict games from being installed on the computer.
3) It provides email alerts to parents each time a blacklisted site is accessed from their homes.
4) It allows them to monitor children’s online chats on social media, thus preventing cyber-bullying and other social media related issues from occurring.
5) Net Nanny is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and even for Android.
K9 Web Protection
K9 is a worried parent’s best friend, and the perfect online protector for a child. It is possibly the best free content filtering software for homes. It comes packed with a plethora of features, to restrict web content and keep children protected from the harms of the Internet. But probably the best feature of this software is that it doesn’t require you to install a database on your PC. Instead, it relies on an online, Internet-based database for its working. Thus, it doesn’t take up a lot of space on your PC, and also won’t slow it down. If for some reason its online database is inaccessible, it blocks Internet access from that system, thus ensuring complete safety.
1) It blocks over 70 different categories of Internet content, including pornography, drugs, gambling, violence, racism, etc.
2) It imposes ‘Safe-Search’ as the default search option on most of the major search engines.
3) Its ‘Time-Restriction’ feature disables web access during designated time slots.
4) K9 features enhanced anti-tampering, that makes it impossible for children to either disable or bypass it.
5) Like Net Nanny, it too features real-time categorization of websites. It also provides complete parental control, providing them with a full list of all the web-related activities from that PC.
6) It also features a powerful ‘Anti-Malware’ software as a bundled package.
7) K9 is compatible with Windows and Mac.
Though dogs can be best for home protection, filtering the Internet content in an organization and keeping it safe can be too big a task for them. A larger animal is required in such cases; namely a squid!
SafeSquid is basically a HTTP/1.1 Proxy Server software, but it is most widely used for its robust web filtering capabilities. It has been engineered keeping large organizations in mind, and has an extensive array of highly customizable features and options that can help prevent employees from misusing a company’s resources.
1) It is very business-oriented, and provides a powerful tool-set for in-depth content filtering.
2) It features re-programmable filters to enable or disable access to selective content according to an employer’s discretion.
3) It allows you to create and customize the templates that are displayed when particular content is blocked.
5) SafeSquid features real-time text and image analysis, which completely eliminates access to pornography.
6) It can completely block access to mailing, chatting, forums, job search websites, and the like.
7) It allows user-authentication from a remote Windows ADS or OpenLDAP servers.
If there is one thing about the Linux community, it is the fact that it cares. So much so, that one of its members decided that everyone should be protected from harmful content on the Internet, and went ahead and developed a powerful ‘Guardian’ to do the job.
Named after its original author Daniel Barron, DansGuardian is a powerful web filtering software designed especially for Linux-based servers. The best thing about it, is that it retains the two core principles of Linux; first is that it is highly customizable, and second is that it is 100% free.
1) It filters content using many different methods, such as phrase matching, PICS filtering, and URL filtering.
2) It is completely configurable, and allows you to tailor the filtering according to your specific needs.
3) Its default settings allow you to block images, filter advertisements, etc., but you can adjust these settings to make the filtering much more granular.
4) It can monitor the activity of a particular computer or group of computers in the network, and make it possible to impose restrictions on the content being viewed.
5) Using DansGuardian, you can deploy filters for different PCs differing according to domains, users, IP addresses, etc. Thus, different levels of filtering can be employed for different groups.
6) Though it is primarily designed for Linux, when used on a server, it can even be used to filter content on Windows-based PCs at the client end.
If you feel that the unbridled use of the Internet by your employees is closing the doors to your organization’s success, it is time you kicked them open with OpenDNS. It is a complete content-control solution catered towards both home users and enterprises alike.
1) It has a rich database of 60 different categories which covers millions of domains and billions of web pages. This allows you to accurately control access to the Internet within your organization.
2) It allows creation of a whitelist from among the blacklisted domains and websites. Those listed on the whitelist are treated as exceptions, and even if the category that they fall under is blocked, access to them is allowed.
3) Special filter by-pass privileges can be granted to selected members of an organization. This allows them access to sites which are completely closed off to the rest. This by-pass privilege can span from a single hour to 10 years.
4) OpenDNS comes packed with one of the best malware and botnet protection software in the industry.
5) It has an easy-to-use, cloud managed administration console, which can be used to quickly set up filtering policies. Filters may be set per network, group, user, device, or IP address basis.
6) The OpenDNS Enterprise Insights feature integrates with Microsoft Active directory and gives you critical visibility into the various malware or botnet infections on your network. It also gives precise control over the creation of filtering policies on a per user or per group basis.
So, there you have it! A list of five of the best web content filtering software in the market, to keep your home and organization safe from the tons and tons of garbage-information that gets heaped on the Internet daily. Note that, unlike what most people believe, these software were designed to protect freedom of speech, and not to suppress it. They don’t destroy web content, they just restrict access to it by the wrong people at the wrong places at the wrong time.
A few other content control software worth mentioning are Symantec Web Gateway, ContentWatch, Barracuda Web Filter, Cyberoam Web Filter, and Handy Filter.