Tag Archives: whitelist

Keeping the internet safe for kids part 2

I’ve recently found a way to configure Internet Explorer as a whitelist filter.

This will basically block all websites from being accessed except for the sites in the whitelist.  If you don’t want to buy or install extra software to set up a whitelist, then follow my steps below.

But please note that a clever computer user could just install another web browser and circumvent the filtering in Internet Explorer.

Step 1 – Enable Content Advisor

In Internet Explorer, browse to Tools -> Internet Options.  Go to the Content tab and click the Enable button under Content Advisor.

Step 1 - Enable Content Advisor
Step 1 - Enable Content Advisor

Step 2 – Define whitelist

The next step is to define the sites that you will allow your child to access.   Just click on the Approved Sites tab and enter new sites like below.
I started with a general set of Club Penguin, ABC Kids, Mathletics, the school website, etc.
Step 2 - Specify approved sites
Step 2 - Specify approved sites

Step 3 – Lock it down

By default, a user would still be able to access any other site or add other sites to the whitelist.
Click on the General tab.   Under User options, clear the setting Users can see website that have no rating.
 
Then under Supervisor password, create a password and REMEMBER THIS!   This is the password to disable the Content Advisor, or to add sites to the whitelist.
 
Step 3 - Configure General Options
Step 3 - Configure General Options

Step 4 – Try it out

Now when you try to navigate to a site that is not on the whitelist, the user will see the following screen.
The kids, not knowing the password, will not be able to access the site.  However, since I know the password, I can choose to add the site to the whitelist.
Step 4 - Site blocking in action
Step 4 - Site blocking in action
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Keeping the internet safe for kids

We recently bought a Lenovo S10 netbook for our Miss 10.

I’ll review the netbook in another post, but one concern I had was internet filtering. Our family computers are currently in the family room where we can monitor our kids computer usage. But we have also put NetNanny on our current computers to filter sites out.

Yes I know there are people who would argue to let kids roam on the internet free.  I’m all for the kids to learn and explore their sexuality – but it’s so way too easy to access XXX rated and really inappropriate material – stuff that I’d rather my 10 year old not see.

With the netbook, I wanted Miss 10 to be able to use it in her bedroom. I was first thinking of not connecting it to our home wireless network, and hence not to the internet. However, this would be most frustrating – especially since she needs to access the school’s website for homework details, and also other educational sites like Mathletics.

The option that parents have is to install a net filter, or in tech speak, a firewall.   There are 2 general types of net filters – blacklist or whitelist.

Blacklist

A blacklist filter will basically allow all sites to be accessed, except for a set of known “bad” sites (the blacklist).

The good thing about a blacklist is that it lets you access the internet freely without much effort.

The bad thing about a blacklist is the blacklist – it needs to be kept up to date as there are always new “bad” sites around. The software can be intelligent and block keywords too, but there is a possibility that your child could stumble upon a “bad” site.

Whitelist

A whitelist filter will basically block all sites from being accessed, except for a set of known “good” sites (the whitelist).

It’s much easier to keep track of the sites that you will allow your child to access.

The bad thing about a whitelist is that it’s restrictive, so free searches that may be needed for research on Google will not work. Also, you’ll find that a single web site will actually reference and load images and pages from all sorts of other sites. It will require some time to add these additional sites to the whitelist to make surfing the web a non frustrating experience.

Software

I’ve tried a few and love NetNanny.  NetNanny is basically a blacklist filter.  It seems to work really well and is not obtrusive.  This is currently installed on all our computers at home.

I like how NetNanny lets me check logs and change settings remotely and also set times of the day that surfing is allowed.  The 3 user family pack is a great idea too as more and more families have more than 1 computer at home.

And for a while, I’ve been trialling a whitelist filter using Internet Explorer on Miss 10’s netbook.   It’s a bit more annoying, and needs some work to set up, but at least it’s free with Internet Explorer.   I will post more details on this later.