Types of Internet Filtersby Matt Koble
Whether to protect children from inappropriate content or keep employees productive, Internet filters can help. As the name suggests, Internet filters restrict unwanted, inappropriate and possibly harmful content. While they all serve the same basic function, there are different types to choose from, making knowing the differences crucial to forming an informed decision.
Client-Side vs. Server-Side
Client-side filtering is installed directly onto the PC like any other software program. From there, it monitors Internet activity, blocking inappropriate content. Both home users and businesses can use client-side Internet filtering. Server-side filtering typically resides on the company server, controlling access for all connected computers. BusinessFilters.com warns that server-side filtering isn't very customizable, making a client-side solution more viable. While both may utilize the same blocking or filtering tactics, client-side software typically has more customization, a broader feature set and more frequent updates.
Black & White List Filters
Blacklist filtering, according to Geeks.com, is one of the more popular methods, because of its ease of use. This type of software requires the parent or administrator to manually enter websites deemed inappropriate. After the website is recorded by the software, further access will be denied. Whitelist filters use the same principle, just in reverse. This much-stricter method requires the parent or administrator to specify websites that can be accessed instead of ones that can't. In other words, this method filters out the majority of the Internet, allowing access only to specifically pre-determined websites.
Keyword and Content Filters
Keyword and content filtering software takes a similar approach to black and whitelist filters, only filtering out websites with specific words or pre-defined content. For example, a home Internet filter might offer to filter out pornographic content. The software will then try to determine, through the words used on the site and previously databased information, whether a specific site is pornographic. If so, the user will be denied. According to Geeks.com, this method is often ineffective, because it tends to block legitimate websites misinterpreted as inappropriate. Conversely, if the keyword or content filter is set too low, it may allow unwanted content through, unable to recognize the site for what it is.
Types vs. Methods
While both client- and server-side Internet filtering are two different types, within those types there are methods that specify just how the software goes about filtering content. Understand the methods, such as blacklisting filters and keyword filters, is important to making an informed decision about what to buy. In other words, knowing whether a filter is client- or server-based isn't enough. You should also find out the method used and evaluate whether that's the right method for your family or company.
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