Buyer's Guide to Internet Filtering and Monitoring Tools

There are Five tables on this page:

Table 1: Server Based Filters
Table 2: Local Filters
Table 3: Kid-Safe Browsers
Table 4: Accountability and Monitoring Software
Table 5: Search and Cleanup Utilities

Filtered ISPs: Before we start, I should mention there are Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that specialize in providing filtered access for your Internet experience. Some of these include: American Family Online (http://www.afo.net); BSafe Online (http://www.bsafehome.com); HedgeBuilders (http://www.hedgebuilders.com); Integrity Online (http://www.integrity.com); PKFamily (http://www.pkfamily.com); Surf On the Safe Side (http://www.surfonthesafeside.com); and True Vine Online (http://www.truevine.net).

Table 1: Server Based Filters:

The first chart concentrates on filtering products that provide a partial server based filtering capability. These products may offer some control and some monitoring capabilities, but the focus is on filtering.

Company/Product
Local or Server
Based?
Description/Price: note that descriptions are overviews only and not intended to provide an exhaustive
listing of features.
Website
Computer Business Solutions
Kidswatch
Both
Selectable 60 category URL blocking and content filtering. Set Time Limits. Monitor popular Chat programs. E-Mail alerting, reporting
and more. $45.95 for up to 3 PCs. Windows Only.
http://www.kidswatch.com
Centipede Networks
Filterpak
Both
Selectable 23 category URL blocking and content filtering. With reporting and optional accountability partner
$49.95 per year on up to 3 PCs. Windows Only.
http://centipedenetworks.com
Christian-Net Online
(Based on NetSweeper)
Both
Selectable 20 category URL blocking and content filtering. Can block other Internet apps (like Chat). Web based reporting
and managment. Time Limits. Spam-free e-mail (uses GMail). $49.95 on up to five computers. Windows Only.
http://www.cnonline.net
ContentWatch
NetNanny
Both
Selectable category URL blocking and content filtering. Can block chat. IM Alert and analysis, Social Network profile reporting,
Extensive reporting. $39.99 per year 1 PC; $59.98 up to 3 PCs. MAC version also availble.
http://www.netnanny.com
Covenant Eyes
Both
Primarily an accountability service for pornography addiction. Filtering for Windows is also available. Create local
allowed/unallowed  lists. Block IM, Chat. $9.49 per month for accountability & filtering. MAC accountability only.
http://www.covenanteyes.com
Cyber Patrol
Both
Selectable category URL blocking and content filtering. Limit program access. Restrict Chat, IM. Monitor & Report Internet
Activity. Time Limits. $39.95 per year up to 3 PCs. Windows Only.
http://www.cyberpatrol.com
CyberSitter
Both
Selectable 35 category URL blocking and content filtering. Limit newsgroups, Chat, IM, Social Networks.
Chat monitoring. Remote control, Reporting. $39.95 per year 1 PC; $59.95 2 PCs. Windows Only.
http://www.cybersitter.com
Forensic Software Limited
Cyber Sentinel
Both
Selectable category URL blocking and content filtering. Time limits. Chat, IM limiting. Reporting with e-mail alerts.
$39 per year on up to 5 PCs. Windows Only.
http://www.cybersentinel.co.uk
Family Fellowship
Filtering Service
Server
Uses local Profile Manager and server based filtering. Option to deny local filter bypass (good for addition fighting). Monitor IM, Chat
keywords with McGruff tool, selectively block Chat, IM, Webmail. Social Network limit. $49.95 per year up to 5 PCs. Windows Only.
http://www.familyfellowship.com
Guardware
iShield
Both
Focus on pornography blocking. Blocks images in the browser. Records inappropriate websites visited. Define allowed
and blocked website lists. Time Limits. $24.95. WindowsXP.
http://www.guardware.com
Intego
ContentBarrier for MAC
Both
Selectable category URL blocking and content filtering. Record Activity. Block peer-to-peer, social newsgroups.
Filter FTP, online games, and more. Anti-predator Chat monitoring. Logging and e-mail alerts. $49.97 per MAC per year (no Windows)
http://www.intego.com
Internet Safety
SafeEyes
Both
Selectable 35 category URL blocking and content filtering. Control IM, P2P, File Sharing, etc. Set time limits.
Logging with Alert capabilities. $49.95 per year up to 3 PCs. MAC version availble.
http://www.internetsafety.com
K-9 Web Protection
Server
Local Agent, uses Server based filters. Free service provides selectable 60 category URL blocking and content filtering.
http://www.k9webprotection.com
LiviaWeb
Server
Local Agent, uses Server based filters. $4.95 per month
http://www.liviaweb.com
Namo
Cyberfence
Both
Adult content blocking and filtering. lso blocks adult videos from playing, editing, or transferring. Includes time management,
P2P and Chat blocking. $3.99 per month or $39.95 per year. Windows XP or Vista.
http://www.cyberfence.com
NetMop
Both
Selectable category URL blocking and content filtering. Control chat, e-Smail, news, keywords, file-sharing. Pornography is always
filtered and is not configurable. $54 per year up to 3 PCs
http://www.netmop.com
Symantec
Norton Online Family Service
Both
Similar in concept to K-9 and LiviaWeb. Monitors PC activity and blocks inappropriate sites (configurable on Norton's servers). Allows
children to bypass with a "note to dad". Time Management and reporting. Free during Beta Testing.
http://onlinefamily.norton.com
OpenDNS
Both
Free replacement Domain Name Service (DNS) that also provides the ability to selectively block 54 categories of web traffic. Fast
and effective. Includes monitoring capability. Should work with any OS. Free.
http://www.opendns.com
Optenet
Parental Controls
Both
Selectable 25 category URL blocking and content filtering. Allowed/Unallowed URL lists. Can block file type usage. P2P
blocking. Time Management. $39.95 per PC per year. Windows only.
http://www.optenetpc.com
See No Evil
Both
URL blocking and content filtering. Has a unique image blocking feature that can allow the rest of a page to load, but images
blocked. Administrator can slowly reveal images to ensure they are safe. Keystroke monitoring, Screen capture monitoring.
$59.95 per year up to 5 PCs. Windows only.
http://www.seenoevil.com
Sentry Parental Controls
Both
Selectable catagory URL blocking and content filtering. Monitoring (TIVO-like, reporting, e-mail) and reaction capabilities. IM/Chat filtering. Web based controls. Basic URL reporting version is free. Standard edition $19.95 per PC per year. Total $2.99 per month per PC. Windows.
http://www.sentryparentalcontrols.com
WiseChoice
Both
Web service based on the SafeEyes filter so has similar features except that no override features are available without contacting
WiseChoice. This makes it more suitable for overcoming Internet addictions as you have no local control $49.95 per year. MAC, iPhone editions.
http://www.wisechoice.net


Table 2: Local Filters

Filtering tools that are primarily "local" based. The advantage is that all access is checked locally, so the response speed should be very fast. The downside is that because it is locally controlled, there is a higher chance that a savvy user may be able to bypass the controls. Note, however, that even server based sites rely on proper communication with the agent software on your PC, so these, too, can be defeated by a highly technical local user (more on this is the technical features article HERE). Also, if a URL database is used, it is likely to be more static and updated less than the server based lists.

Aobo
Porn Blocker
Local
Provides URL blocking and a content filtering algorithm. Runs in stealth mode. $20 for one PC, $30 for 3.
Windows Only
http://www.aobo.cc
AnyUtils
Any Weblock
Local
Works with any browser. Block listed domains and sub-domains. Free, donations accepted. Windows only.
http://www.anyutils.com
Armcode
Arm Adult Filter
Local
Provides URL white (allowed) and black (unallowed) lists. Can block based on keyword list. Free. Windows only.
http://armcode.com
Blumentals Software
 iNet Protector
Local
Block/Allow specified websites, provide a use timer to limit Internet use. Starts at $29.85
Windows Only
http://www.blumentals.net
Emjy Soft (Fance)
Control Parental 2007
Local(?)
Block pornographic, Warez, online payment sites with custom screens. Can send e-mail alert and/or shutdown link/computer.
19€ Windows Only
http://www.emjysoft.com
Microsoft Vista
Parental Controls
Local
Microsoft's Windows Vista includes Parental Controls that allow web filtering based on ICRA website labels and also provides for
allow/unallow lists. Also time management and Game blocking. Free, Windows Vista only
http://www.microsoft.com
Naomi
Local
Real-time analysis to block violence and pornography. Last update in 2006. Windows XP only. Free.
http://www.radiance.m6.net
NetDog Porn Filter
Local
Provides URL blocking at content filtering at the port level. Runs in stealth mode. Seems a lot like Aobo Porn Blocker but with older
looking interface. Windows XP only. $24.99
http://www.netdogsoft.com
Proxomitron
Local
Local HTTP web-filtering proxy. Designed for advanced users, can block web-ads, create URL blacklists, and has many other uses
for filtering web traffic. Not primarily designed as a web filter, though. Free. Windows.
http://www.proxomitron.info
Race River
Integard
Local
Blocks pornography, Blocks inappropriate words in chat and e-mail. Blocks sending of personal information. Block P2P. Forces search
engine safe mode. Has "only allowed sites" mode. Data download & Time management. E-mail notify. $39.95 up to 3 PCs.
http://www.raceriver.com
SmartPCTools
Safe Surfer
Local
Detects inappropriate sites based on algorithm. Blocks Pop-ups. Cookie, temp files cleanup. Free. Windows only (Vista?)
http://www.smartpctools.com/safesurfer/
TechMission SafeFamilies
WeBlocker
Local(?)
Blocks sexually explicit, violent, drug and gambling sites. Prevents personal information from being sent. Keyword blocking.
Provides monitoring capability. Windows XP only (no Vista). Free
http://www.safefamilies.org
TopLang
Internet Lock
Local
Port based tool allows you to lock by program name and/or by application. Can control any Internet application.Password bypass
for blocked access. Includes time management. $29.95 Windows XP or Vista
http://www.toplang.com
Ur I.T. Mate Group
B Gone
Local
Blocks bad web sites based on keywords found in the browser's caption bar. Because of this, it is likely to miss a lot of bad
sites! Only supports IE based browsers. Free.
http://support.it-mate.co.uk
Vttechs
Surfkeeper
Local(?)
Selective catagory URL blocking and content filtering. Block file downloading. Time management. Screen Caputre IM.
URL logging. Database updated monthly (download?). $19.95
http://www.vttechs.com/sk/index.htm
Webroot
Parental Controls
Local(?)
Selective 60 Category URL blocking and content filtering. Time management. Reporting and Alert options. Tight integration
with Windows. $39.95 Windows only (no mention of web filter updates)
http://www.webroot.com
WRAAC.org
Local
Like Vista Parental Controls, filters sites based on ICRA website labels. Works in IE, Firefox, and Safari web browsers.
Child-mode blocks inappropriate websties. Website "allow" lists can be generated. Windows XP only (not needed in Vista. Free.
http://www.parentalcontrolbar.org

Table 3: Kid-Safe Browsers:

A few companies have ventured into providing specialized browsers that filter content and only provide children access to "approved" sites. In some cases, they have attempted to creat their own minitature Internet community, with specialized chat and other functions for all members who own the specialized browser. Because this also relies on the longevity of the particular company, it seems that several of these browsers have come and gone. Thus, I would recommend caution in signing up to a "community" unless you feel sure of its strength of if the browser is still usable even if the company should go away right after you sign up (note: I'm not making any judgements on the companies below, I'm just providing generic advice!). In any case, most of the browsers also allow you to search the web in relatively safe environment, so may be worth your look, especially if you have younger children.

Kid Rocket Browser
Includes 13 approved kid-friendly sites. E-mail for kids with Art/eCard attachments. Time Management. Free.
http://www.kidrocket.org
KidzCD
Free Web Radio and Web TV. Five version from one specialized for children with Autism and versions for 0-6 year olds, 7-12 year olds,
13+ without Chat, and 13+ with Chat. Free.
http://www.kidzcd.com
Kidzui Browser
Web browser, search engine, and social network for children. Has avatars, parental monitoring. Free and membership versions. Nice looking browser!
$7.95 per month, $39.95 per year
http://www.kidzui.com
MyKidsBrowser
Kid-safe browsing with time management and printer control. Can customize the allowed websites. Desktop lockdown on Windows XP and Vista. $29.95
http://www.mykidsbrowser.com
MyWeb
MyWeb browser is supposed to be released in Beta 3 version soon...
http://www.myweb.com



Table 4: Accountability and Monitoring Software

The following products are designed with the PRIMARY purpose of providing a method for monitoring Internet activity and computer use. I will not list the many keyloggers and "spy" software available as there are just too many and many seem to cross the line between monitoring and spying (as do even some of those listed below). Accountability software is intended to monitor your own Internet usage, and provides reports to an accountabililty partner to see how you've been doing with an Internet addiction. Even if you disable the accounting software, your partner will likely notice the gap in reporting and can still hold you accountable for this period. Also, I would recommend you let your children know that monitoring software is on your computer. The intent is like a weak lock on a door. It is intended to keep the honest people honest. As most software is defeatable in one way or another, if your child or spouse really wants to get by this software they can. If you detect a lapse in the monitoring, however, it gives you reason to confront your child and find out why.

Accountable2You
Free and paid accountability services. Internet, Chat, E-mail, forums monitoring. Paid services include filtering and advanced reporting. Free, $5 or $10 per month.
http://www.accountable2you.com
All-Spy
Web Explorer
Tool to monitor and silently record all websites visited. Includes e-mail reporting feature. Free
http://www.all-spy.com
Awareness Tech
WebWatcher
Web-based monitoring software. Monitor from any PC anywhere in the world. Screenshots of alerted pages visited. Website blocking. Keyword Alerts,
and much more. $97 Windows only
http://www.awarenesstech.com
Clairsoft Technologies
iMonitorPC
Tracks: programs used, websites, history of chat room activity, social network usage, screen captures. Provides website/chat blocking, time management,
alerts and e-mail reporting. $14.95 per PC, $9.95 per year website access for remote log review.
http://www.imonitorpc.com
Covenant Eyes
Primarily an accountability service for pornography addiction. Filtering for Windows is also available. Create local
allowed/unallowed  lists. Block IM, Chat. $9.49 per month for accountability & filtering. MAC accountability only.
http://www.covenanteyes.com
Cyntrigal Inc.
Protect Our Kids (POK)
Detects online predator attempts to get information such as phone numbers or meeting locations and locks the PC. Can also track websites visited and log keystrokes.
Free for Windows XP
http://www.cyntrigal.com
Golden Plains Software
System Surveillance Pro
Records keystrokes entered, programs run, websites visited, instant messages, or screenshots. Can e-mail reports. Can block pornographic sites based on keyword.
$49.95 Windows Only
http://www.gpsoftdev.com
IMSafer.com
Instant Messaging monitor looks for predator behavior and provides alerts. Free and Paid versions.
http://www.imsafer.com
InfoWorks Technology
Family Cyber Alert
Records e-mail, chat/instant messaging, Web sites, applications, file access, keystroke (keylogger), screen snapshots, and time and sequence. Provides e-mail
forwarding, e-mail/Chat/IM blocking, Web site blocking, games/applications blocking, automatic keyword detection and danger alert, and intelligent reporting. $39.95 Windows
http://www.itcompany.com
McGruff Safeguard
Monitors website visits, MySpace/Facebook/Social Network activity, Chat/IM, Search engine phrases, some e-mail, hours spend online. Alerts by e-mail, summaries. Free and paid versions.
http://www.gomcgruff.com
SpectorSoft
SpectorPro & eBlaster
SpectorPro records chats, IMs, emails, web sites, keystrokes, plus provides screen snapshots and more. eBlaster is designed for e-mail & Chat monitoring.
$79 Spector home edition, $100 SpectorPro, $100 eBlaster.
http://www.spectorsoft.com
x3Watch
Accountability monitor for web activity only. Versions for Windows and MAC. Reports go only to accountability partner. Free, but pro version available.
http://www.x3watch.com

Table 5: Search and Cleanup Utilities

You may have pornography on your PC and not even know it. Malicious users can install peer-to-peer software and use your PC without your even knowing it. The tools in this table help you search your PC for potentially graphic and pornographic material.

Computer Cop
Searches PC for offensive photos and words/phrases. $19.95 Windows.
http://www.computercop.com
ContentWatch
Content Cleanup
Identify, verify and clean up unwanted content on your PC. It categorizes files, and also helps clean up cookies and other file hogs. $24.95 Windows
http://www.netnanny.com
ContentPurity
Content Cleaner
Scan and remove pornography (images and videos) from your PC. Includes free Pop-Up blocker. Also cleans browser history, address bar, cookies, and temporary Internet files.
$29.99 Windows. Free content scanner also available.
http://www.contentpurity.net
Guardware
File Audit
USB based tool audits PC for inappropriate images, video, html, web, and music. $195 Windows.
http://www.guardware.com
JerMar
Red Light Green Light
Search and identify pornography on the PC. Searches for file, web, and newsgroup activity related to pornography
http://www.jermar.com
Media Detective
Detects potential adult images and text through keyword scanning and unique skin color detection algorithms. Can scan inside ZIPs and Internet history.
$49.95 Windows
http://www.mediadetective.com
SurfRecon
Digital Signature based image/video scanning (as used by law enforcement). Suspect images are blurred (adjustable) so you're not offended, and a "keyhole" view can show clearly selected portions of a photo withhout revealing the whole thing. $19.95 software version with 1 year subscription, or $39.95 USB version. Window, MAC, Linux versions.
http://www.surfrecon.com

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