Securing Our Home against Undesirable Internet and Media Content
The internet provides some benefits which cannot be ignored:
- Online shopping, Tesco, Waitrose, Amazon, eBay…
- Airline reservation, booking, and purchasing of tickets
- Communication - Skype, email
- Education – Wikipedia and other online resource is fast replacing the old Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Recreation and leisure opportunities – online games
- Real-time information – News, Traffic
- Any others …
But the Internet with the lure of the virtual world also offers some dark sides
- Viruses, malware
- Misinformation, propaganda (Extremists)
- Hacking of personal details
- Sites unsuitable for children
- Others …
So do we still need this service?
Our mind is our most valuable asset after getting saved! God wants us to have a sound mind. Proverbs 4:23; Romans 12:2; 1Peter 4:7
It is wise to safeguard our computers, TV, and other game consoles than to leave things to chance and regret later.
The extent and complexity of safeguards depend on the individuals involved. For more technically savvy kids, we need to be more assertive and add a layer of complex security measures.
Common sense approach
- No access to the internet in bedrooms
- Place a computer connected to the internet in the lounge or a communal room with the screen facing the direction of traffic
- Install antivirus and protection against viruses and spyware
- Educate kids about dangerous sites especially those with lots of banners, pop-ups or ads
- Subscribe to ISPs that provide better security and internet control.
- Block or secure your wifi device from being used by others
- Do not put too many personal details e.g. on social networking sites Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, (DOB, address …)
- Encourage kids to report suspicious activities immediately
- Disable wifi facilities on phones and game consoles
- 10. Disconnect the TV from the internet and block off noxious channels
Dealing with computer-savvy teens
- Standalone Firewall
- Standalone Proxy server
- Unified Threat Management
Most Firewalls targeted at the home market are packet filters. A new breed of home inspection” is questionable. As such, having a standalone home Firewall is good – but scarcely adequate.
Standalone Proxy server – there are lots of players in this space. In fact, most broadband/cable modems are standalone proxies. What those modems are missing is the functionality to categorize and filter traffic – based on a pre-defined rule set or automatically. There are bespoke proxies that can be used in the home environment – with categorization and filtering capabilities, but they may require an extra bit of hardware.
Unified Threat Management devices aim to incorporate a firewall, web proxy, and anti-virus functions into one device. In most instances, these are dedicated appliances and may require a periodic subscription.
To protect individual PCs, the following are good free options:
- Windows Security Essentials – free anti-virus/anti-malware software. It is a must-have on all your PCs. You should have two types of anti-virus software on your computer.
- Bluecoat K-9 – you need as many email addresses as the number of PCs you intend to protect because this product requires registration – though it is free.
- Microsoft Parental Control – very good, but only comes with Windows 7 through to Windows 10
To protect many PCs, the following are good free options:
- All the options above, including
- A dedicated PC is used as a UTM (Unified Threat Management). You can run any of the following on the UTM to protect all the PCs at home – Untangle or IPCop (development work has stopped on this for a while) or Smoothwall (there are free and commercial versions) or Pfsense.
There are many commercial versions of UTM applications for a single or many PCs. The decision to go with a particular vendor should be taken carefully – as these applications can be complex to configure. Examples are – Checkpoint Zone Alarm, Sophos, McAfee, Smoothwall, and many more...
Safe sites for kids
Obviously, if we decide to go further than limiting time on certain social or gaming sites to complete restriction from these sites, we have to be ready to provide our children with alternative sites that can not only provide content that draws them closer to God but also content that stimulates their imagination.
Click here to access sites, which may be of interest. We have checked these sites, but it is still advisable to do further checks to see which will be appropriate for your child’s age group:
Configuring your browser to block unwanted content