Report of the Polish filtering softwares
The first stage of the examination included the review of the application’s functions. The attention was paid, among others, to: time limits, the possibility of settings modifications or information on the type of websites being blocked.
The second stage of the examination regarded the effectiveness of blocking websites which may be harmful to children. The tests were performed on the basis of 130 WWW website addresses, sent by the Internet users to the Dyzurnet.pl team within the notifications regarding illegal contents. The effectiveness criterion applied was a closure of a given WWW website (or its part where the undesirable contents were placed) within no more than 5 seconds after its display. The examination sample contained pornography websites, websites with the pictures of accident victims, contents obviously calling for racist and xenophobic behaviours, websites promoting sects, anorexia, bulimia, self-mutilation, suicides, various kinds of stimulants and websites with vulgar language.
At the third stage of the examination the hypersensitivity of the filters to the websites containing specified key words was checked (e.g. breast, sex), however without harmful contents, but only medical information (e.g. regarding breast cancer), educational (e.g. regarding pubescence) or other (e.g. regarding Sex Pistols band).
The effectiveness of the filtering programmes was measured at the most sensitive setting of the filter. Each application was tested using the programme which was written for the purpose of the examination by the specialists from the CERT Poland team. Thanks to the tests on one WWW websites library, homogenous reference material for any application was obtained. Each of the working stations, which was subject to testing, was equipped with the Windows XP Professional 2002 operating system and the browsers: Internet Explorer 6.0., Firefox 3.0.12, Opera 9.02., Chrome 18.104.22.168. The reason for choosing this kind of internet browsers was their popularity among the Polish users and – in the case of the Chrome browser – the end of works on BETA version and the vast product media campaign.
On the basis of the performed testes one may draw the following conclusions:
- in blocking undesirable websites under the Internet Explorer, the most effective were: Panda, Opiekun and Cenzor, in the case of the Firefox browser – Panda, Opiekun and Cenzor, in the case of the Opera browser – Panda, Opiekun and Cenzor, and in the case of the Chrome browser – Panda, xTerminator and Windows Vista
- Vista and xTerminator had the least hypersensitivity to the specified key words (e.g. breast, sex, bitch, penis), which appear on the websites with harmless contents. Other programmes reacted to the key words irrespective of the nature of the website and blocked the site
- none of the tested applications guarantees 100 % protection against harmful contents
- the filtering programmes effectively block the access to the websites with pornography or erotic contents
- unfortunately the applications allow displaying websites with racist contents, promoting stimulants, drugs or risky behaviour
- in the case of pornography websites other than in Polish and English language, the filters fail to perform their function
- the programmes have difficulties in effective filtering of the websites with graphics only
- some filters analyse websites too slowly and allow their display. The decision on its closure is made no sooner than after several seconds. This kind of activity increases the risk that a child may become acquainted with the harmful contents
- in the case of the neutral/harmless contents, the applications incorrectly react to some key words (sex, breast, kitties), causing the website blockage
- the filters are not very compatible with the new or less popular browsers
- in spite of the producers assurances, the programmes allow sending personal data, using electronic communicators, electronic mailing lists, chats and www mail
- also insufficiently recognize Web 2.0 – social network services, blogs, photo blogs and web portals, which make music and film files available
- the majority of programmes do not control the use of games installed on a computer or available online. Some of them allow access to games which are obviously erotic
- the programmes offer the possibility of adding own terms to the existing base of the forbidden key words
- in case of using or the applications hardly recognize undesirable contents (which is a popular, among young people, manner to evade parents blockages)
- the producers place on their websites a precise description of a programme and the instruction of its installation, as well as a contact to helpdesk in case of possible problems
- the blockage alert not always alarms about the reason for the site closure and sometimes it is unintelligible for children who cannot read
- each of the applications enables parents to look into the child’s activity on the Net and set the limits for the Internet use
- the majority of tested filters is equipped with a regulation of the sensitivity level
- almost all of the programmes enable to create and modify independent setting profiles in relation to the child’s age
- the producers of the programmes often make the temporary product license available
- the filtering solutions presented in the report may apply in corporations. What is more, the producers’ offer often contains separate version for the companies.