Cyber Security and filtering for your family

by | Apr 1, 2019 | Tech Advice

Cyber security for your family

How often do you find yourself watching a family show or sporting event on TV, only to have to constantly reach for the remote to ensure the commercials they choose to air aren’t providing an education for you kids that you aren’t ready for them to have. Or maybe it’s a quick glance at a score or highlight video on the phone or computer that brings in the inappropriate advertisements that you so carefully attempt to avoid. Or how about when you happen to pull up a video on Youtube only to find inappropriate content listed either during the video or appearing afterward…

In today’s world there are many different methods the mainstream media attempts to barrage our families with content that we desire to filter out – but often lack the right tools to do so. Allow me to introduce a few ways to allow you to take control of what is arriving at your doorstep.

Internet Filtering

There are a few different approaches to internet filtering currently available. One method is preventative filtration while the other is more accountability related. For preventative measures you can either install a software client on the device that will do the filtering or you can route all of the network traffic through a filter. Here are some top recommendations:

  • Firewalla This is a fairly new solution that is hitting the market and growing quickly in popularity. You simply plug this device into your network and walk through the setup using your phone. You can use the Walla phone app to view/regulate/filter traffic for any/all devices on your network at a very granular level. You can even disable internet on devices during certain times of day or monitor any device for the activity it’s currently performing. It even provides a secure VPN client to use when you are connected to a public hotspot to keep your traffic secure

     Pros – Bundled appliance with phone app for setup/configuration…all in a nice little package. Phone app makes insight and control very easy – even for novice users. Great reporting mechanisms and granular control of devices. One time purchase for appliance & filtering.

    Cons – No live support available. Company is still in start-up so some appliances might take a few weeks to arrive
    IT Knowledge Requirement – Novice

  •  Untangle HomePro This is a great lite version of the commercial appliance that thousands of businesses use to keep their networks secure. The homepro subscription costs about $50/yr using the lite version of VirusBlocker. The stronger version of VirusBlocker is an extra $10/mo. and live support adds more cost if you need that option. You will either need your own appliance to install the service on or you will need to purchase an appliance from Untangle. It does require a bit more knowledge in the IT realm for setup and configuration but offers great insight and control in filtering your network.

    Pros – Same filtering subscription utilized by thousands of businesses. Offers great insight and granular control of filtering
    Cons – Subscription service only includes basic Virus filtering and no support. Also doesn’t include an appliance
    IT Knowledge Requirement – Proficient

  •  Fingbox Fing offers many ways to manage your network and connected devices. It can help to secure by checking for open port detection and running a network vulnerability analysis; it can block intruders & unknown devices; it can monitor home activity & schedule internet downtime; it can also help to find & eliminate bandwidth hogs on your network.

     Pros – Good to help monitor your network & connectivity and troubleshoot network issues you may have. Single appliance and phone app for configuration

    Cons – No active filtering options
    IT Knowledge Requirement – Novice

  •  OpenDNS OpenDNS has been filtering the internet for users for a number of years. Purchased several years ago by Cisco, the service is now known as Cisco Umbrella. You simply point the DNS servers in your router to the OpenDNS DNS servers and they handle the rest. They now offer both a free service and a paid subscription service. They offer logs to see which sites were visited/blocked, custom filters, category blocking, whitelisting & DNS firewall.

     Pros – Basic Service is free and can be setup very quickly.

    Cons – While this can a good mechanism to filter your domain traffic, it doesn’t provide the same granular insight that you will receive with some of the other methods. Filters can be bypassed fairly easily. Domain filtering performed from comparing database of blacklists/whitelists – no try dynamic content filtering available. No granular control to bypass any devices on network.
    IT Knowledge Requirement – Novice

  • Cleanbrowsing Cleanbrowsing is an organization started by a tech-genius dad who saw some weaknesses with OpenDNS that he wanted to solve for his own kids, including more control over image searches, mixed content sites (Imgur, Reddit), locking YouTube Restricted Mode, locking safe search on popular search engines, and more. Similar to OpenDNS, you simply point your routers DNS servers to the cleanbrowsing DNS servers and they filter the domain traffic for you. They have several tiers of subscriptions available based on the number of devices and filters that you desire to have in place and also offer a free tier. They offer logs to see which sites were visited/blocked, custom filters, category blocking, whitelisting & DNS firewall.

     Pros – Supports DNSSEC, DNSCrypt & DNS over HTTPS/TLS. Encrypts DNS so your ISP can’t spy on your surfing habits. Performed best of all DNS filters compared by Can enforce Google SafeSearch. Can set different levels of domain filtering by device.

    Cons – 
    IT Knowledge Requirement – Novice

  •  CleanRouter The cleanrouter appliance provides active domain and keyword filtering, categorical blocking, logs activity by devices, allows time restrictions, provides emailed reports and can even filter YouTube.

    Pros – Great combination of offered services bundled neatly into an appliance. Live support available. Dynamic content filtering. 

    Cons – Must use cleanrouter appliance. Monthly service subscription
    IT Knowledge Requirement – Novice

  •  Covenant Eyes Covenant Eyes’ revolutionary new Screen Accountability™ service monitors what you do on your computers, phones, and tablets, whether you’re using a web browser or on an app or even offline completely. Integrates with optional CleanBrowsing for blocking/filtering options.

    Pros – Can run on Computers, Tablets & phones. Stays with the device no matter the location. Can integrate with CleanBrowsing for content filtering/blocking. Family plan includes all devices.

    Cons – Doesn’t yet fully work with IOS 11+ unless using Covenant Eyes Browser. Screen Accountability currently not working with Chromebooks or Kindle Fire
    IT Knowledge Requirement – Novice

  Media Filtering

How many times have you watched a movie as a family only to regret having played based on some of the content? Sadly, it’s often just a scene or two or some language cuts that prevent it from being enjoyable for the everyone. Allow me to introduce a couple of great options…

  • VidAngel VidAngel provides a way to skip or mute things you don’t want to see or hear in movies and TV shows. You set the filters in 1 of 3 ways:

    1. You can skip or mute content from sub-categories, such as profanity, or only the graphic violence portion of the Violence category.
    2. You can skip or mute content using individual filters, including specific words, or certain scenes.
    3. You can skip or mute content from entire categories, like Language or Violence.

      VidAngel can be used from most any device such as a Roku, Amazon FireTV, AppleTV, Ipad, Android or iPhone. The service costs $10/mo. and connects to many existing streaming services such as Amazon, Netflix, HBO Channel and Movies Anywhere

  • ClearPlay ClearPlay has an app that works with streaming movies rented or purchased through online streaming services. This app is installed to work with the Chrome browser on your computer. ClearPlay also sells a Blu-Ray and DVD player that can download filters for movies on disk.


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