Protecting your Place in Cyberspace

by admin on Aug 12th in Hardware Issues, Hardware Recommendations, Software Issues, Software Recommendations

As a parent and teacher, I am thrilled with what is available on the Internet.  Unfortunately, I am at the same time scared to death of what is available on the Internet.  If that seems to be a bit of a paradox, welcome to the harsh reality of the Internet!  It is important for you (whether as an individual or as the parent of children) to protect your place in cyberspace.

In addition to my work as a consultant for small to medium businesses, I also do seminars for churches, schools, and organizations on how to protect yourself while in cyberspace.  Since that is a rather lengthy presentation to try to put here, I will limit my post to a few ways to limit the trash that can get into your house through the Internet.  If you are interested in my coming to do a presentation for your organization, feel free to reply to this post…

There are two basic ways to block bad stuff:

  • software solutions
  • hardware solutions

The problem with software solutions is that they can be difficult to install, and are rather simple to by-pass (if someone is trying).  They do work well for the ‘unintentional’ trash that comes through.  There are many different software packages available, most which require a ‘yearly subscription’.  However, Windows Vista and 7 both have pretty good filtering built in.  A good free version is K9 Web Protection by Blue Coat.  Another problem with software versions is that they require installs/updates on each computer in your house, and as we all know, few houses these days have only one computer, so this can get to be a bit of a pain!

Hardware solutions are better from the perspective that they often work for all computers in a network, are more difficult to ‘circumvent’, and don’t require updating on each computer.  The downside is that they are a bit more expensive.  However, when you take into account your time and frustration, they are actually quite a deal.  The best solutions I have found for homes, small businesses, and schools are from iPhantom.  They have various hardware solutions that range in cost from $45 to $1,750.  However, there is a yearly subscription fee, which for home users is $60.  The good news is that this is for as many computers as you have on your network!  So if you have 6 computers, this works out to only $10 each!  Many of the software and even some of the hardware solutions charge by the ‘seat’ (per computer), so this can be a major money saver.

iPhantom’s iBoss for home is a wireless N router that has a 4 port switch.  It provides extensive customization of who sees what when (ok, read that slowly and it will make sense).  The interface is very ‘big’ and friendly.  You can set times of access based on computer, set guidelines for various categories of websites, and even have reports emailed to you. 

While I didn’t list it above, there is a third way to limit what comes into your house through the Internet.  It is through the use of a ‘proxy’ that forces all the computers on your computer to go through a specific location.  The process can be setup in your home router so that all the computers in your home are tied to the filter.  The problem is that while you can setup customization of the filter, it is based on the whole network, not on a per computer basis, so everyone on your network is treated equally.  Now, the good news is that it is free for the basic version.  You can setup your account at www.opendns.com – it only takes a few minutes, and is quite easy to implement.

Hopefully this will help you sort out some of the confusion on how to keep the Internet ‘friendly’ for you and your family!

One Comment

  1. Lenora Ambagis

    21st December 2010

    Hey, I haven’t checked in here for a while, but I will put you on my bloglist so I don’t forget to check back.

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