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SonicWall Firewall Provides Content Filtering for Networks

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Recently, I was asked to help a school install Internet access for the classroom Macs. They already had an Ethernet network installed. I recommended DirecTVDSL (formerly Telocity) as the provider and ordered their DSL service. One advantage of their service over some cable and DSL providers is the provision of a fixed IP address. So if the school wanted to host their own website, it would be possible. Service was connected in less than 2 weeks. [Update: In December 2002 DirecTV DSL announced they would cease operations, at this time Bellsouth looks like the preferred replacement vendor].

Usually to provide shared access to DSL, I install a Linksys DSL router, typically available under $75. It connects between the DSL modem’s Ethernet port, and the Ethernet network, allowing Macs and PCs to share the DSL transparently. However in the case of a school, concerns over the content available on the net prompted us to investigate other options which would allow the blocking of XXX and other objectionable sites.

One option would be to install software such as Intego ContentBarrier on each Mac. However, this would require individual installation on each machine, and keeping every Mac updated would be a challenge. Plus, there’s the possibility of the software being circumvented by the users. A centralized solution would be more preferable.

After doing some research, I found the SonicWALL Pro 100, a firewall and DSL router which performs a similar function as the Linksys, but in addition offers a Content Filtering Subscription to CyberPatrol’s CyberNOT List, ideal for educational institutions. The CyberNOT List classifies objectionable material into 12 categories from a dynamically updated database of over 1.5 million URLs.

This enables the SonicWALL device to monitor usage and control access to unproductive and objectionable Web content according to established criteria. Every week, the SonicWALL automatically accesses the CyberNOT list and updates its list of URLs, without any manual intervention. You can set the Content Filter to allow/deny access to the following categories.

  • Violence/Profanity (graphics or text)
  • Partial Nudity
  • Full Nudity
  • Sexual Acts (graphics or text)
  • Gross Depictions (graphics or text)
  • Intolerance (graphics or text)
  • Satanic/Cult (graphics or text)
  • Drugs/Drug Culture (graphics or text)
  • Militant/Extremist (graphics or text)
  • Sex Education (graphics or text)
  • Questionable/Illegal Gambling (graphics or text)
  • Alcohol & Tobacco (graphics or text)

The Network Administrator can specify domains or hosts (e.g., “yahoo.com”) that can access can be allowed (“Trusted”) or denied (“Forbidden”). This feature can be used to customize the Content Filter List, or to allow Web access to sites on a custom list. With careful screening, this can be close to 100% effective at blocking objectionable material.

The SonicWALL can optionally scan both the filename field and host field for specific keywords, and block any requests that contain them. For example, if the administrator enters the keyword “sex,” access to sites such as http://www.hotsex.com will be blocked. When a site is blocked, a customized screen is displayed instead of the site, explaining that the site has been blocked.

Overall, I am impressed by the SonicWALL. It is easily configured via a web browser, and offers many firewall options. There are three ports – the WAN port connects to the Ethernet port on the DSL modem. The LAN port connects to the Ethernet network. A third port, labeled DMZ, allows internal and external access to a web server. A log file is emailed to the administrator every day, so I can see the many intrusion attempts and viruses which have been blocked by the firewall, as well as attempts to access banned sites. The SonicWALL Pro 100 Education model, available for about $1000, includes the first year’s Content Filter Subscription; after that it’s approx $400/year. Not cheap, but the peace of mind it offers is worth it!

First appeared at http://www.mactalent.com

Doug Noble is the founder of MacTalent.com, the leading job site for
Macintosh experts. MacTalent offers resume posting, free job postings and
free searching of talent and job pages for “MacTalented” people. MacTalent
also provides professional website hosting, email services with webmail and
spam filtering, Lasso and FileMaker Pro database hosting, website design and
consulting services. Visit http://www.mactalent.com for details or call
877-769-7575.

SonicWall Firewall Provides Content Filtering for Networks
About Doug Noble
Doug Noble is the founder of MacTalent.com, the leading job site for Macintosh experts. MacTalent offers resume posting, free job postings and free searching of talent and job pages for "MacTalented" people. MacTalent also provides professional website hosting, email services with webmail and spam filtering, Lasso and FileMaker Pro database hosting, website design and consulting services. Visit http://www.mactalent.com for details or call 877-769-7575. WebProNews Writer


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  • http://www.freedur.net trying2x

    The only thing that seems to work for me at the moment in Freedur so kudos to that software. I’ve been trying to use other methods like hotspotshield but it no longer works and neither do those proxy websites which I also used previously.

  • Rick

    FYI, the owner of Freedur Chris Mathews and his operations are very shady. There is so many bad comments floating around the internet about Chris Mathews, Freedur, ShoeMash and OpenTerrace LTD. Supposedly, Chris Mathews has stolen Freedur from its real owner – StackFile (owner – Paul Hay).

    Freedur server is full of stolen files, just as example – https://freedur.net/images/placeholder/stackfile_logo.jpg

    You can read the law suit against Freedur/Chris Mathews here http://www.skydur.com/law-suit-against-chris-mathews.php.

    If I were you I would stay away from Freedur, ShoeMask and Open Terrace LTD.

    • Chris Mathews

      The above comment and content of links are fabricated lies. Skydur is a copycat service that was created after Obrad Grujic, Paul Hay, and Jovica Mizdrak (all former developers of the Freedur application terminated due to poor work quality and ethics) hijacked the Freedur servers and fraudulently posted lies posing as Freedur staff on our own website. The hacking incident took place back in August 2009 and caused severe damages and grief to our company and customers. The whole, and definitive true story can be found within OUR lawsuit against them:

      http://freedur.net/public_record/Freedur_law_suit.pdf
      *Currently we are only able to pursue Paul Hay and Stackfile Corp via the court, as Grujic lives in Serbia and Mizdrak lives in Australia.

      Currently, the perpetrators operate under the following identities: Stackfile, Skydur, and Astrill. All of these entities either do not exist as a real company or are suspended. Stackfile Corp is suspended by the State of California. A search for “Stackfile” at http://kepler.sos.ca.gov will reveal its current status.

      The Skydur individuals are attempting to confuse the public by accusing Freedur and its owners of doing what they actually did to us. Their continuing campaign of defamation, lies and distortion will be resolved in court. Their malicious and fraudulent misrepresentations of facts speak for themselves. Please support us by seeking the truth of the matter.

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