K9 Web Protection
Since we don’t expect a lot from free Internet parental control products, we were pleasantly surprised by the accurate filtering of K9 that earned the Most Accurate Award, as well as the robust security. What stops K9 from being a great product is its weak feature set. Key features common to other Internet parental controls such as multiple filtering profiles and auto alerts are missing. If all parents need is accurate and secure web filtering, this is the product for them, with an unbeatable price.
Setting up K9 was simple. After installing a lightweight download from the Internet, K9 led to a web-based interface where we were directed to default settings. The filtering offers lots of categories, some a little odd such as “Travel,” and “Real Estate,” and some very useful to parents such as “Social networking,” and “Email.” Unlike nearly every other parental control product, there’s only one configuration of settings for all users, so if parents share a computer with their kids, they will get the same filtering they do, though K9 does have a password override feature parents can use to disable the filtering. There are a variety of options for configuring blocking options, including a feature that literally barks when kids try to access an inappropriate website.
K9’s parent company Blue Coat provides URL filtering for many big business customers worldwide, with the resulting filtering database being among the best in the business. Parents enjoy the benefits of Blue Coat’s highly accurate database with K9 – a database so accurate it won our Most Accurate Award. K9 blocked 100 percent of the pornography, while blocking none of the sexual health sites, and 80 percent of the violent sites. K9’s filtering of search engine results was perfect.
Blue Coat’s security was nearly perfect in our test. Blue Coat handled search engine caches and online translators by filtering through them, an advanced method most products don’t offer. We were able to halt K9 using Windows Task Manager, but this action caused all Internet access to halt until we restarted the computer, effectively thwarting the circumvention. K9 blocked me from downloading filtering circumvention client software, but when we downloaded a circumvention client from a USB stick in Administrator mode and installed it, we were able to partially evade the filtering, a situation parents can remedy by not running a machine for a youth in Administrator mode.
If K9 had a comparable feature set to products like Safe Eyes and Net Nanny, K9 would be a serious contender for the Editor’s Choice award. While Blue Coat does offer basic reporting, the ability to add and delete sites, and time management, standard features offered by most other products are missing. Let’s hope K9 can add such must-have features as the ability to have multiple user profiles, automatic e-mail alerts of inappropriate activity, and contact management.