From: BlueCoat K9 Web Protection
Price: Free, up-to-date, Highly Recommended
Supported OS: Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista; Mac OS X 10.4.7 and later
BlueCoat manufactures security devices providing Web Content Filtering for corporate enterprises. They also make a parental control application called K9 Web Protection which is free for home users. It is an excellent balance of filtering capability and ease of use and has a lot of options to help parents set limits on web browsing and block unsafe or inappropriate sites. What you get is pretty impressive, given that it is free.
Bluecoat’s K9 Web Protection is a web filtering application that allows parents to control web surfing. The K9 application runs as a web filtering proxy. All Internet web browsing requests from your local web browser are directed through the local K9 software which filters all requests and pages returned, inserting itself between the child and the Internet. When you install K9 Web Protection, it prompts you to enter the registration key. Registration keys are free and can be obtained automatically through their website and sent directly to your email address.
The K9 installer also asks you to enter a password during the install. This password is used as a padlock to prevent children from altering the K9 configuration and blocks them from granting themselves more access than they should have. Don’t worry if you forget the password, it can be sent to the e-mail address you used when you registered for the license key. The license key is free, as is the software, but you can’t use the software without the license key.
K9 Web Protection automatically ‘knows’ what is bad content and blocks it automatically whether it is a bad website or a search term children should not be searching for. K9 provides parents with the ability to block website content by category and there are a lot of categories to choose from which allows you to fine tune what is and is not OK for your kids without having to approve or block every single individual website. You can also enter special words and phrases that you don’t want your kids to see and Bluecoat will block sites containing those words, but be warned, this function can be a bit aggressive. If your child tries to access blocked content, K9 web protection can notify you via e-mail, if you configure the notifications and mail options. You can also have a weekly report sent to your e-mail detailing what sites your child has been surfing. You can also restrict the days and times of day your children can browse the web. K9 also understands that they’re not perfect. If there is a site that is accidentally blocked, or that Bluecoat missed, you can set an exception for that site to allow or block sites individually.