Protecting Against Pornography in the Digital Age
By Nate Baslow
It was inevitable with the birth of the Internet that pornography would wind its way into this new digital territory. With all of the value provided by online information and communication technologies, these advancements have nonetheless also become inextricably linked with developments in pornography distribution. Fortunately, new technology brings not only new outlets for pornography, but also new ways to protect against it.
There are several sources of unwanted pornography. The web is the most obvious one, but adult content also makes its way on to external drives (floppy, CD-ROM, DVD and flash), into email attachments and on to files that may be shared in a networked environment. The right software can protect you across all of these distribution avenues.
The first factor to evaluate when choosing protection software is how the software does its job. Many products designed to protect against pornography rely on databases of known pornographic web sites. Unfortunately, the speed of life on the Internet means that web sites are added and edited around the clock, and databases quickly grow outdated. The best software solutions use technology that dynamically blocks offensive images before they are displayed and viewed. This type of technology, unlike database-driven software, means that even new threats are recognized and blocked before they hit your screen.
Monitoring computer usage goes hand in hand with detecting pornography on the PC. Strong protection software uses two monitoring weapons: a visible deterrent that lets users know they are being monitored, and a reporting function that keeps detailed records of what, when and where pornography is viewed. Sometimes the visible deterrent is enough to ward of inappropriate behavior. When it's not, automated record-keeping tracks behavior so that you can handle it at your own discretion.
Flexibility also impacts the effectiveness of a software solution, which means the software you select should be customizable. The right level of protection depends on the audience, and you need to be able to set the appropriate controls accordingly. This includes both setting sensitivity levels and defining your own known safe (white) and unsafe (black) web sites.
The last two key components in protection software are where it works and how much it costs. The where is important because, as the world moves to laptops, a server-based solution is no solution at all. Protection must extend to stand-alone PCs or mobile computers (when not connected to a network). Wherever the user goes, the software shield against pornography should follow.
Cost can be either a one-time fee or an ongoing subscription. Are you are willing to shell out dollars on a monthly or annual basis, or would you rather spend money once and avoid ongoing payments? Most filtering protection software products require ongoing payments via a monthly or annual fee, but others that are installed on home computers or business networks are obtained through a one-time license fee. If you prefer to "buy a solution rather than "rent it at an ongoing cost, look for one that offers that option.
There are a lot of products on the market designed to protect against pornography. Choosing the right one for your home, office or organization will make a critical difference in the quality of your digital life. Evaluate your options and select software that blocks offensive images at the point of display, includes monitoring capabilities and meets the specific needs of your environment. These key elements will steer you toward the highest quality solution for improved online security and productivity.
About The Author
Nate Baslow enjoys writing about Internet security topics, and recommends Guardware products to block pornography.