Technology & Learning, February 1999, p. 10

Here’s a quick review of five top programs that filter Internet content on your schools’ computers:

  1. Bess, from N2H2. To use Bess, you install a server supplied by N2H2, which filters all the Internet traffic accessed by computers on your network. Every day the Bess system downloads new sites to be blocked as recommended by staff at N2H2. Network administrators in schools can then add or remove blocked sites to allow customized access to sites that would normally be blocked. The system logs attempts to access blocked sites, but it cannot track individual behavior.

  2. I-Gear, from URLabs. This systems requires installation on an NT Server. You set up filtering based on groups, each of which has a login and password. This way, you can offer less restricted access to teachers and staff, or offer different access levels based on grade. Another feature lets you prevent the downloading of picture and movie files, which often contain inappropriate material.

  3. SurfWatch Educational Edition, from Spyglass Software. This package allows you to block content based on 70 different categories in five general areas. You can also block access to all Internet content except sites on six pre-screened educational sites, with options to block more sites according to grade level. Another features lets you filter out newsgroups, FTP sites, and chat rooms.

  4. WatchGuard SchoolMate, from Seattle Software. This package not only filters Internet content but also provides network security features, such as firewalls and hacker protection. You must set up user groups, however, and maintain usernames and passwords—which allows you to track web access by individual.

  5. WebSENSE, from NetPartners. Also requiring an NT server, WebSENSE is another program that makes you set up usernames and passwords. You can filter on the basis of 30 different categories and even select an option to allow access to blocked sites when a user enters the correct password.