Needing any help to lock down a PC or block annoying sites like twitter, Facebook, Myspace or other websites? Having trouble with junior looking up websites above his pay grade or tired of the kids being on the internet all night long? K9 Web Protection is right up your alley! With the ability to block up to 70 different categories of sites, individual sites, and set up time restrictions there is no limit to what you can’t control with it. With great power like this comes great responsibility!
Protecting Your Kids And PC
While protecting your children from the horrors of the internet is very important, so is keeping virus, worms, and trojans off of your computer. There are constantly new “dummy websites” being created which will run scripts to infect your PC as soon as you stumble upon them. Most of them are in the seedier side of the web but some can be happened upon legitimately. Your best defense against these types of sites is to not have your computer allowed to even see some of them. With K9 Web Protection, you can block off whole chunks of the internet utilizing its categorical blocking features. We will gloss over the install process and then jump into the generic blocking.
After the restart, go to the Start Button and the Programs List and select the Blue Coat K9 Web Protection folder and then run the program. Upon running the program, it will open up your default browser to it’s home page, http://127.0.0.1:2372/. Basically as you can see it’s just a loopback address with an open port attached to it which K9 will use for its protection schema. You will come to a page that looks like the one in the pic below. From this home page, you can do all sorts of things. You can view current internet activity, go through with the setup of the internet filters, or go to the support pages and either dig through support documents or go to the very helpful forum to bounce questions off of experienced users. Let’s go to the Setup either via the big button I have circled in yellow or the small Setup button above that.
After hitting one of the Setup buttons, you will be asked to enter your Administrator password. Enter it and you will be welcomed with a page that has numerous options such as Category Block, Time restrictions, exceptions, Blocking effects, keywords, safe search, updates, and other settings and one that deals with password and email. I will attempt to discuss what is in each of these areas but due to length restrictions on this article, I will not be able to include a pic of each area. I will show you the main ones and what settings I would prefer for a home setup. Select the Custom radio button to really get down to blocking anything and everything.
The Custom setting will allow you to pick and choose what categories you want to block from viewing. If you want no internet access, you could check every box available, including the unrated box and basically nothing will be viewable via an internet browser. Since you are more than likely using this for protection, I would just select the categories that I am not comfortable with my child seeing and leave the rest open. If you still want to view these sites when you are on, there is a spot later on which will allow you to override these settings with a password. Select whichever you want and don’t forget to hit the Save button at the bottom. Now we will move on to the Time Restriction area.
The Time Restriction page only has three options to choose from: Unrestricted, NightGuard, and Custom. Unrestricted allows unlimited internet access but still enforces the categories that you had specified before. NightGuard fully blocks all internet access from the evening to the morning allowing you to specify those times. Good for setting up a “no internet time” whenever during the day. Custom allows you a breakdown of the day by half hour and day of the week to determine when internet access is allowed and blocked. Pick whichever you would like, but for this test, we will just keep it on Unrestricted and let our categorical block do most of the work.
Web Site Exceptions allows you to always block or always allow regardless of category and can even let you blacklist a site without the possibility of password override all simply with the site’s URL. The Blocking Effects link takes you to the settings for what K9 does whenever it blocks a website. It can even make a barking sound signifying a block upon stumbling on a site that has been listed as blocked. Pretty much the default settings are good for here. URL Keywords lets you pick certain keywords that if contained in a URL will make the site blocked. Very straight forward on what this area does. Safe Search is a handy category that will force the popular web search engines to have Safe Search enabled, keeping bad images and sites not able to be shown on a standard search. You can also choose to redirect all searches through K9’s Safe Search which isn’t selected by default and in my opinion not needed if Force Safe Search is enabled. One thing I would uncheck from default would be Redirect Google SSL. It redirects HTTPS to Google to standard HTTP requests since K9 cannot categorically filter HTTPS. I use my PC for viewing a couple different bank accounts and a few other sites that use HTTPS and would like it to continue so I would advise not using this default selection.
Other Settings is a bit interesting as it will allow you to play with some Youtube settings for when those are viewed. As you can see, both Filter secure traffic and Force YouTube Safety Mode are checked by default. As stated above, I would uncheck the HTTPS filter but leave the YouTube one selected especially if your child views YouTube videos. The Advanced YouTube Filtering option is in its experimental phase but interesting enough in itself. It will remove the “Open Image/Media Search” category and try to filter individual videos as well as thumbnails. Handy to try out and see if it affects overall viewing or is helpful.
Password/Email and K9 Update are both extremely self explanatory. Password/Email will allow you to enter a new master password and change the administrators email which is used for sending program information. K9 Update will allow you to check and see if there is a newer version out there which may have more advanced features. Just remember to click Save at the bottom of each page that you make changes too otherwise they will not take effect!
With the power of K9 Web Protection and some minor customizations, your computer will now be able to protect your kids from a majority of internet related threats. Its categorical blocking scheme as well as the ability to block out entire internet access whenever you deem fit gives this program a multitude of ways to help you keep viruses at bay and your children out of harms way. All of these features as well as keyword and URL blocking give you an advantage in the war and a leg up trying to keep decency, as far as the internet is concerned, in your household.
There are many other ways to go about filtering content and blocking websites from your end. Let us know below what you do to keep your PC virus free and child safe!
Update: Unfortunately K9 Web Protection has been retired by Symantec. Here are some free alternatives to K9.