I was asked to speak at out church recently on the topic of internet filtering at home and give some advice to parents about what they can do to protect their kids again some of the less than desirable content on the internet. I have written and spoken about this before on the blog and podcast and will include some links below for anyone who would like to dig a little deeper. In the mean time, here are some quick and essential tips on managing your home network’s safety and security.
1. Make Sure Your Hardware Is Secure
So you have opened up the world of the internet to your family, have you? Might be a good idea to ensure all the hardware you are using is secure as well. This will protect you and your family like the lock on your front door.
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) gave you something (like a Cable Modem or DSL Router) to connect to the internet, but you have most likely purchased a wireless router to connect your devices to the service. Google your router’s brand and model and download the instructions that you threw away when you purchased the router. Now read them.
At minimum, make sure your router admin password is changed, some kind of security is enabled and you understand a few things about how the router works
2. Keep your Computer Secure with Microsoft Security Essentials
It took Microsoft about 10 years to long to offer free Antivirus security for Windows, but the day has arrived and you never should pay for that kind of software again. What is an install in Windows 7 (find it here) will soon come included with the new Windows 8! But for now, download and install it. The interface is easy to use. I set mine for daily and forget about it. It updates automatically and keeps you virus free!
Note: For a really deep clean, I recommend Malwarebytes. It is light, easy to use and free as well! I manually use the free version about once a month or whenever I feel like something might be wrong.
3. Consider using OpenDNS
Now that you are familiar with your wireless router, take a second to configure it to use OpenDNS and let them do some of the hard work for you. Why OpenDNS you say? OpenDNS acts like extra set of eye while you are using the internet. All internet requests from your house are automatically routed through their servers and filtered on criteria you set up. Since it’s installed on the router, it works on ANY device that connects to your Wifi connection. PC’s, gaming consoles, cell phones, you name it!
Free in most cases, OpenDNS not only provides great internet security, but also does web filtering (you can configure), parental controls, phishing, malware and botnet protection. It’s your first layer of protection at home. More info and can be found here.
4. Still worried about a specific PC, Mac, iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android Device? Use a product like K9
K9 is a free application for your PC made by Bluecoat and is the best free web filter I have ever used. I recently met some of the IT guys from Bluecoat at an Oracle Business Intelligence event in the Bay Area and couldn’t stop telling them what a great product they have.
K9 is a simple, yet very powerful product that will allow you to custom build a personalized access plan for you or the ones you love as they surf the web.
Some of the features include:
Web site blocking by category, including pornography, illegal drugs, personals/dating, violence/hate/racism
Easy pre-set levels to choose from depending on the age of your children
SafeSearch enabled on all search engines to show cleaner search results
Time restrictions, including NightGuard(tm), to disallow internet access during designated times
Custom “always allow” and “always block” lists for your personal preferences
Ability to override a block with the parent password
Tamper resistant for more savvy kids
Reports showing activity to categories of web sites
Real-time categorization of new web sites
Compatible with Windows or Mac machines
Set up is easy and the management console is straight forward. If you haven’t tried it yet, do it today. FREE!
Just a side note: The first article I posted was infected with a bad link, Google caught it and gave me (actually it was found by Renny) a warning. I eventually had to completely wipe out the post, move the text into WordPad, start a brand new post and start over. See, even the Average Guy finds it difficult to keep safe on the internet at time. Keep your eyes wide open!
Leave your comments or suggestions below.