Net Nanny is the best Internet parental control product we’ve yet seen. Net Nanny earned the first GetParentalControls.org Editor’s Choice award, as well as the Most Secure award. Net Nanny has just about every feature a parent could want, along with robust filtering and a practically impenetrable security. The only weakness we found in Net Nanny was sub par blocking of explicitly violent sites, which prevented a complete sweep by Net Nanny of all three awards.
Net Nanny walked me through a simple set of setup steps, suggesting pre-set levels of filtering based on age for the different members of the family. Making changes to the individual profiles, such as adding categories and blocking individual sites was easy. Net Nanny offers some nice reporting that allows parents to view a summary of web and social networking activity, and the option to “drill down” to examine specific web activity by hour, day, week, or month. Net Nanny also allows parents to set up automatic e-mails that warn of risky activity.
Net Nanny blocked all the commercial porn sites we threw at it, while leaving all the sexual health sites unblocked, a feat of accuracy few products can match. Net Nanny relies on both a database as well as real time analysis – a technique that often leads to noticeable over blocking, but not in the case of Net Nanny. Net Nanny’s filtering of the major search engines worked flawlessly – nothing got through. However, Net Nanny’s excellent filtering of sexual materials didn’t work as well for explicitly violent sites, blocking just over half of them and other products. A representative from Content Watch informed me that the company is developing “a new heuristic learning algorithm that will improve the performance in that category.”
Net Nanny handled every hacking technique we threw at it – even when we ran in Windows Administrator mode. Net Nanny easily handles simple circumvention tricks like proxies, search engine caches and translation sites. Rather than simply blocking these sites, Net Nanny filters through them, allowing children the benefit of online translation without creating a loophole in the filtering. Most of Net Nanny’s competitors handle anonymous proxies by playing “whack a mole” and blocking the individual proxy sites. Net Nanny moves past the competition here by analyzing traffic through proxies and blocking them in real time. Net Nanny applies the same technique to even thwart SSL VPN clients, and filtering circumvention clients like Paper Bus and Ultra Surf.
Net Nanny offers a rich array of features, including time management that lets parents set up pre-set limits on use, control over which online games by can be run, controls for applications, Instant Messaging, and social networks.