Caregivers need Help
If you are a caregiver for others then we know first-hand that you need help. The children or senior citizens in your life are a huge challenge to protect. Trying to protect your family from inappropriate content on the Internet is just the start. Once kids are ‘Tweens they are likely too smart for the Big-Box Store solutions out there and have already learned how to hack or circumvent them. Adolescents are sophisticated in their use of technology and if you are like most parents you are ready to give up trying to mediate their screen time. Then comes the day when your parents call you to say they think they have been hacked and someone has swindled them out of savings. We’ve been there. More than once. This article is about how you can protect your family on the Internet.
Protection starts with DNS
Before anyone can visit a website, the computer has to verify where it is “in the cloud.” To do this it must check with the appropriate authority, the Domain Name Server. Following the diagram on the left, all exchanges of data and information on the Internet start by looking up an IP Address that corresponds to what you type in your browser bar. An IP Address is a computer-readable address of everything on the Internet (and looks like this 123.456.789.123). So, to get to something on the Internet every device must ask for numeric “directions” based on the www.domain-name.com you want to visit.
What if hackers have infiltrated a DNS Server and it gives your computer bad directions? What if that hacked DNS Server sends your computer down a dark alleyway where bad actors are waiting for you? Secure DNS (or DNSsec) is a means of ensuring your computer is talking to legitimate servers and getting validated information. In short, it protects your family from getting directions down that dark digital alleyway. DNSsec also means your traffic is encrypted between you (the source) and the DNS Server, protecting you from interlopers who want to monitor your traffic. This is a big win for privacy and data security.
Who owns the servers that hand out directions to Internet resources? By far, Domain Name Servers are owned by the telecom companies who sell you internet service. That means DNS Servers see all the requests for Internet resources that your computers, smart phone, smart devices, smart speakers, smart TVs, consoles, Blu-Ray players, etc, send out. An average family home sends out thousands of requests for resources each day. QName (or Query Name) Minimization is a means to “minimize” what information is requested. For instance, if you are searching for eczema treatments at WebMD instead of asking for “www.webmd.com/please-help-my-eczema” IPFire protects your family by just asking, “where is WebMD.com?” That is akin to telling the receptionist you need to see a doctor rather than announcing in the waiting room what specific condition you have!
Internet-Wide Safe Search
Most of us know that it is possible to constrain Search Engines to “family safe” topics. Search Engine sites call it Safe Search and almost all of them have it at some level. The trick is how to ensure it is turned on for those in your family who need it! Sure, you can turn it on by logging in and telling a Search Engine you prefer safe search. But how can you ensure your kids, parents, business partners, customers, and others on your network are using it? IPFire protects your family by allowing you to specify all traffic flowing across your network to use Safe Search. This is especially helpful for parents with kids whose school assigns educational videos on YouTube.
Because of the fact that US-Based Telecom companies have detailed records of users by IP Address, most hacking attempts come from outside the United States. So why allow traffic from outside the United States into your home network? The last 20 years of Internet architecture has been focused on locating servers right next to you for speed and reliability. The Cloud, Virtual Services, Content-Delivery Networks, Domain Name Servers – they all live in a data center right around the corner from you. Even if you are having a virtual video chat inside your Meta Headset with your friends in Dubai, chances are the stream is relayed to your local data center. IPFire protects your family by allowing you to block (malicious) traffic from any country you choose.
Protect your Family
If you have Senior Citizens or Children in your home, you need a Web Proxy. Web Proxies automatically direct traffic based on rules. You determine the rules and what happens on your network. Your Rules apply to what ports are allowed for traffic, how much data should enter or exit, what times of day or day of week should access be allowed, and even what file types should be allowed. You can even filter rules based on specific hardware like laptops, cellphones, or other devices. We’ve all fought with our kids about screen time and this takes it out of the realm of discipline into the realm of policy. IPFire protects your family by ensuring that your network follows your rules inside your house and outside of your house.
Filter the Bad Sites
IPFire includes a built-in URL Filter designed to filter all the bad stuff. What is the bad stuff? Well, it starts with about 4 Million Porn Sites including the one you know and the 3.999 Million you don’t know. Then it adds Malware, Hacking, Denial of Service, Crypto Jacking, Phishing, and Warez. You can specify sites by category like “Social Networking” or “Chat” or any list you define. IPFire protects your family by adding regular automated updates to the filters based on categories you specify. You can even choose which Blocklists you apply, including the University of Toulouse.
Adding it all Up
Let’s put it all together. IPFire protects your family by ensuring only legitimate websites are visited. No prying corporate or government eyes will see more than they absolutely must for your Internet to function. Your children will never search for Greek Goddess and be linked to questionable images or content. Blocking Malware and Hacking sites means your parents are prevented from opening Phishing email designed to swindle them out of their savings. It means when its time for screen time to be over, its over. IPFire protects your family by allowing you to apply these settings at the right level, for each member of your family. Simply adjust the settings for your family and sleep peacefully with the knowledge you are protected.
Other Related Reading
Are you interested in this topic? Here are some other cool related articles you might like to read. Learn how to build your own custom firewall like this one for cheap! Want some of the protection but you don’t want to bother building a firewall – try using PiHole! Are you a hobbyist that likes RaspberryPi and want to try IPFire – then try our build. If you are installing our image on your Raspberry Pi, try these detailed instructions to get going! To learn more about IPFire and Web Content Filtering then check out this article. Do you have other questions or comments – leave a comment or send an email, we’d love to hear from you.