Category: Internet Filtering & Security

Internet Filtering & Monitoring for Schools

Safe Search for Schools and Home

Attention Schools:  The same parental controls that parents use at home are now available in the classroom. Before we explore internet filtering options we’d like to announce that Safe Search Kids has partnered with Qustodio with a mission to develop a seamless way for parents, schools, and teachers to work together to keep kids safe online.

We continue to encourage the use of our free internet filtering tools to ensure that safe browsing on Google is always set to the most secure level of search filtering. This should be the case whether Google Safe Search is being used at home or on every computer in school. It’s important when searching the entire web, including images and videos.

For schools interested in complete internet filtering and monitoring on all of their devices regardless of where students browse online, we invite you to explore what we believe is the best software available to protect and monitor students in class.

Internet Filtering and Monitoring for Schools

  • No expensive hardware or long-term contracts are attached to Qustodio Schools software.
  • It works on all mobile phones and tablets, as well as on lap tops, PC’s and Mac’s. (Other parental control for schools featured on our website only work on mobiles devices via an app).
  • During the 14-day free trial, any educational organization will have access to a fully-featured internet safety platform for all of their devices.

Qustodio for Schools fits educational institutions of any size globally and here is what is special about it:

  • offers management at scale and bulk installation on all school devices
  • available in English and Spanish
  • offers detailed, exportable insights and reports
  • one on one customer support
  • free trial period
  • affordable pricing

Qustodio for Schools Includes:
Parental Controls for Schools

Schools can now try a fully functional version of this unique software to protect every device for every student in the classroom.

For parents at home who wish to ensure the ultimate in internet safety for kids at home, we encourage the use of internet filtering apps to give parental control over how kids access the internet. This is not to be confused with Internet Security Software that protects your computer against viruses as explains below.

How to Use Safe Search Kids

Before we speak about additional options online for filtering and security, here is what Safe Search Kids offers.  It’s simple to use access to internet filtering tools without an app or software installation, just go to the top right corner of our website.  It’s also free.

Bookmark this page for easy access or save as a home screen on mobile phones. You may also scroll down to the bottom of this page to bookmark our individual search tools for Safe Images, Safe Videos and Wiki for Kids

You can also switch between our search resources using the 4 tabs you see on the top right of our website. The first one is for searching Google. It provides the same results as Google, but with strict internet filtering. In essence, as long as you are searching from our website and the results page that follows your initial search, all bad content is filtered.

There are plenty of options when is comes to protecting kids online.  So, let’s do our best to clear up the confusion around internet safety tools and resources.

Internet Filtering Apps & Software

There are four areas of online security that people need to be aware of. These are not presented as options, rather – they each offer a different level of security and serve different purposes.

1. Anti-Virus Software: This is essential basic software that filters your email to protect your computer from becoming infected with a virus. No computer should be without anti-virus protection. Many operating systems come with enough security to screen your email, such as on a Mac computer or Windows 10. One of the best free versions of anti-virus is AVG.

2. Anti-Malware: Includes the removal and full protection from malware infecting your computer. It blocks a variety of viruses and subversive malware from infecting your computer due to a cyber attack or in the event you accidentally visit an infected website. Malware Protection is an important addition to any anti-virus program you may choose to install and includes protection against Ransomware.

3. Parental Control Software: If you are concerned about protecting your kids from harmful online content, you need proper internet filtering that blocks access to the internet according to the age of each child in your home. Read about the specific benefits of Parental Control Apps, or explore parental controls for schools.

4. Safe Search for Kids: The filtering tool on our website is enhanced by Google to ensure safe search results for all keywords entered. It is a FREE solution when searching Google. While it will block search results for inappropriate search terms entered, it does not block access to other areas of the internet when kids leave our site. This is where internet filtering software or apps should be explored.

5. VPN:  Short for Virtual Private Network, VPNs are not common to most families.  However, the security features of using a VPN are well worth exploring.  It protected against swatting for gamers as well as hackers who may want to invade your privacy, whether at home or when accessing the Internet in public.

The most popular option our users are most interested in are parental controls and it’s relation to internet filtering.

Parental Control Monitoring Includes:

  • Internet Filtering – Search the web with safety ensuring questionable and harmful websites are blocked.
  • Content Controls – Flexible content control allows you to select the types of websites that are appropriate according to age.
  • Program Controls – Control Instant Messengers, P2P File Sharing, control of what apps can be downloaded.
  • Time Controls – Control the amount of time spent online, and the times when the internet is available for each child.
  • Usage Logging – Create and review logs of websites visited, programs used on the Internet.
  • Usage Alerts – Be notified instantly via email or text message when someone visits inappropriate websites.
  • All of these monitoring resources can be accessed via a parental control app or on your desktop computer.

Choosing stand-alone filtering software greatly improves your kids internet safety and allows parents the ability to set the safety controls for each child according to their age and responsibility. Deleting search history won’t be enough for users to hide their activity.

Additional Solutions: Teaching Good Online Habits:

Software that features both accountability and internet filtering. What is the difference?

Web Filtering: This feature of the software filters the internet and blocks potentially harmful content. Parental controls allow you to set internet filtering according to user age, as well as put timelines on how long a user can surfing the internet, as well as restrict hours of use. This software can also be applied to applications and phones.

Accountability: When software is installed on any or all computers in your home, you will receive a report emailed to you weekly to show high risk website that were visited. This feature does not block content. It is meant for older kids and adults who know that the report will be viewed, and therefore builds good web browsing habits. The accountability report can be further generated to easily show sites according to various ratings, such as Teen, Mature Teen and Mature.

So what about our website – Safe Search Kids? How do we  fit into the mix of providing internet safety for kids? For one, our site only restricts potentially harmful websites on Google while using our internet filtering tools. Our website simply allows for added security for those who are not installing software filtering.

Safe Search Kids is ideal for schools who want to implement safe search filtering instantly without having to painstakingly turn on safe search within the settings of each computer. This is done by bookmarking our home page.  Alternatively, explore complete parental controls for schools provided by FamilyTime.

Never before in the history of time has there been so much information available to us. It’s all just a click of a mouse away. This is ideal for research and the educational benefits seem endless.  Of course, with this great freedom comes great responsibility. Access to the internet also increases the risk of of exposing students of knowledge and exploration to harmful material found all too easily online.  Google SafeSearch for schools has been created to filtering out this harmful content.

Parental control software programs enable you to block internet access in the following ways that Google Safe Search on our website cannot.

  • Software programs filter all access the internet regardless of device or search engine being used.
  • It gives parents control of social media use and app downloads according to custom account settings.
  • Provides reports for searches, instant messages, keywords entered and controls screen time.

Should I Use Additional Safe Search Filtering Apps?

It is important to note that Google safe search is not perfect. We strive to provide a healthy balance between screening out illicit material and providing quality search results. For this reason, the ultimate in security can only be achieved with the use of parental control software. This is difficult and costly in a school setting where you have hundreds of computers, which is why Safe Search Kids is a good step towards a safer online environment on a broader level.

When you have control over 1 or 2 computers in your home, it becomes a viable option to consider filtering software options to protect kids, as well as your computer from viruses. The cost is minimal and gives the user much more control over what keywords are filtered out.

The important thing is to do your research and compare all the pros and cons, including costs, before proceeding.  Of course, no search filter can replace parental supervision when it comes to children on the internet – even when safe search is turned on – but every little bit helps.

More About Our Website:  Safe Search Kids Articles

In addition to parents and teachers, older kids such as teens would find many articles within these categories of interest. The categories names “Improve Your World” and “Stuff for Your Brain” contain many areas of interest for younger kids.  Parents and educators may want to direct their kids to read these articles as part of their education.

You can access our recent posts in the center column. To read an article, clicking the “read more” button. You’ll find sharing tools at the bottom of each post. As you scroll down, we feature a longer list or our more poplar articles, as well as posts related to internet security and online safety to the left of the page near the bottom. You’ll also see that there are articles written just for kids. To search for a specific article topic, our website search tool can be found near the bottom right of our website.

At the very bottom, you will find direct links to our individual search pages related to safe image search, wiki for kids and safe videos. Why would you use these? Basically, if a teacher wanted to post a ‘safe image search link’ on their teacher page, clicking this link below will bring them to the url that will always feature safe image search by default. The same goes for wiki for kids and safe videos.

We encourage you to browse our articles for helpful topics, and of course, bookmark Safe Search for Kids for strict filtering on Google – on every computer in your home or at school.

Safe Search Internet Filtering vs Parental Control Apps

Whether it’s a safe search engine or secure online resources to help kids do research for school, parents and teachers need to be aware that complete internet filtering can only be achieved using parental controls. It’s these types of software programs that block content from all parts of the internet, not just while searching. Content filtering (blocking restrictions) is set by the software owner, such as a parent. It is done according to each child’s age and level of development.

Kids will click when they see an interesting link, there’s no doubt about that. It’s what’s on the other side of that click that is of concern parents. Apps can also monitor the keywords kids are searching, as well as their activity on what apps they are using. Social media platforms are also monitored.

Although not directly associated with Google, we are in partnership with their search resource via the Custom Search Engine Program. Our search websites for schools has increased the level of safety while kids search Google. This is achieved through an additional database of filtered words and phrases.

Here’s How To Share Old Family Photos Safely

How to Share Old Family Photos Safely

Old family photos are not like any other photos you own. Not only that it signifies your family ties, history, and heritage, it bears personal value to you and your family members. Photos share stories and carry deep emotions that words can’t describe.

These photos serve as a remembrance to a family member you lose and a great way to share and pass around fond memories with the younger generations.

We share family photos for a variety of reasons. For one, it’s our way of maintaining relationships with our loved ones. Or, it may be to celebrate a special occasion like Father’s Day or to simply strengthen our relationships with distant friends through social media.  Sharing family photos lets the people we love know that we value the relationship, and photo sharing expresses our desire to nurture it.

But in order to preserve your family’s legacy, sharing your old family photos with friends and other family members needs to be safe and secure.

Ways of Sharing Family Photos

There are tons of ways to share these photos online, but their security and safety may be in question. The security and safety of the images we share have become a problem when technology makes it convenient and fast but poses a significant risk because of privacy and security issues.

Photos (especially digital ones) provide a lot of information such as location, date, and time. And if these pieces of information are accessed by others outside your circle of friends and family, they can be manipulated and used to harm you and your family as a whole.

There are two methods of sharing photos: digital or online photo sharing through social media, cloud-based softwares, and other online applications, and the “old school” printed images.

While both of these methods are great, you need to establish effective ways to ensure that you are safely sharing your precious family photos.

Digital Photo Sharing

Sharing photos online takes only a few clicks and taps on your digital device, but as much as they offer convenience and digital storage, they are not as secure. Though this may be the case, there are ways you can minimize the risks of privacy breaches on the photos you share by taking the following safety measures.

Social Media

The most common mistake of social media sharing is that people tend to get too comfortable with sharing everything without realizing that other people are not on social media to socialize. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites have become a hub of scammers and hackers whose purpose is to trick people into giving out information they can use for their own agenda.

Explore Privacy Settings

When sharing photos on social media such as Facebook, read and understand the privacy settings before you share. This might sound tedious, but these privacy settings are created to ensure you understand how a specific platform uses stores and access all information you share within that platform.

Privacy settings allow you to choose the audience you want to access and view the photo you share. You can restrict specific people or groups of people by making a selection in the privacy settings dropdown.

Beware of Red flags

The red flags in social media have become sophisticated over time. You can almost never tell who the person you are communicating to because of hackers and scammers who pose to be someone else to get your information.

Confirm the person’s identity by contacting the person through other means like texts, email, or by calling them. This will ensure that the person asking you to share a photo is really the person you know and trust.

Another red flag to look out for is when you receive a new friend request from a person who claims to be one of your family members. In some cases, they could be someone else entirely. Withhold sharing photos with someone you have not established trust and whose identity you have not confirmed yet.

Cloud-based Photo Sharing Software

A more private way of sharing photos online is through cloud-based photo-sharing softwares such as Google Drive, Onedrive, and Dropbox, to name a few. Sharing photos through these platforms are completed through user-to-user sharing or through a sharable link.

Confirm Email Address

In this method of sharing photos, whether through user-based sharing or a sharable link, you need the person’s email address to complete the sharing process. Though email addresses are private, it is hackable. Taking extra precautions by calling or texting the owner couldn’t hurt to ensure your photos are not compromised.

Instant Messaging App

Unlike the examples listed above, instant messaging apps like Messenger, Whatsapp, and telegram also allow users to send and share photos but are more geared toward sending individual photos than sharing bulk images through the cloud. These apps are also hackable; hence taking the extra step mentioned above to protect your photos is highly advisable.

Sharing Physical Photo Print

If you want to avoid the risk of digital photo sharing entirely, sharing old family photos as physical photo prints is the best way to go. It gives an intimate, ethereal sense in a tangible way that allows family members to display old family photos on their office desks or display a large wall portrait in their living room or bedroom.

You can choose to share individual printed photos, framed portraits, or an album of photo compilation.

Granted that physical photo prints accompany the cost of printing, the end result of a timeless display of family heritage that you can pass along to your family members will last throughout the years (with the right amount of care). Besides, without the risk of these treasured photos getting into the hands of the wrong people is worth every penny.

Final Thoughts

However you want to share your old family photos, whether through digital means or old school photo prints, the importance of making sure that they are safely shared with family members, and friends cannot be undermined. Following the safety precautions above will significantly lower the odds of compromising the memory and legacy that your old family photos represent.

Malware Removal and Protection

How to Remove Malware From Your Computer

Malware is malicious software that infects your computer in the form of a virus, spyware, Trojan horse, bot, adware or a worm. These nasty infections have different purposes, from getting your computer to preform certain tasks in the background, to sending out spam from your email account, to as bad as stealing your personal information.

Malware may infect your computer when you click on a suspicious email attachment, but it is not restricted to that. Malware also comes via software installations from unsafe sources, as well as when visiting infected websites.

Safe Search Kids endorses MalwareBytes because it is 100% safe and arguably the most reputable malicious software removal tools available having been first introduced online in 2006.  It does not include adware or spyware in any shape or form and also has a free download option.

MalwareBytes now includes protection from Ransomware, which is malicious software that locks your computer.  The only way to remove it and get access to your files is to pay a ransom, usually in Bitcoin.

Computers Infected with Malware

A personal story about anti-malware software in action: One morning I logged on to my credit card account and saw a Western Union charge for $940. It was made in a city half way across the country. I quickly called my credit card company to report it.

Upon further investigation I was informed that thieves obtained my complete credit card information through one of my computers in the house. This is done when your computer becomes infected by a Trojan Horse (malware) and when you log into an account – in my case it was iTunes – the software is able to obtain your personal information for later use. I downloaded the anti-malware program on to all of our computers and did a scan. I found the virus on one of our laptops.

Malware can infect entire network of computers within a home.  It’s vital to education every member of your family.

Methods of Malware Infection

There are many other ways computers are infected with malware, including spyware and malicious Trojan Horses.  It can happen when you visit a website that itself has become infected.  Email can also be bring you malware in the form of an attachment.  This is why is always important, that no matter how much you may trust the email that is asking you to log into an account, it’s always best to simply go to your browser and access your account directly.

Malware can also be infecting a computer is when opening attachments that seem harmless enough.  That is where having an Anti-Malware program installed on your computer is vitally important to stop infections from happening in the first place.

Anti-Virus Programs are Not Enough

Obviously, no one wants malware on their computer for any reason. But so many computer users fail to take pro-active action to stop it.  Adding to the problem is that anti-virus programs don’t do a thorough job of detecting and removing the malware.  Malware hides in the background of your computer and anti-virus programs don’t always pick it up in a scan.

A bigger issue is that anti-virus programs alone do not block infections from happening in the first place.  This is why it’s important to have an anti-malware blocker, as well as a program that digs deeper in your computer scan with a top rated malware detector and removal tool.

Anti-Malware – Scan and Prevention

Every computer should have some form of anti-virus software installed.  Windows 10 users already have a good security system in place, as long as it is activated.  But anti-virus programs do not have the ability to prevent malware the way a program like a malware program can.  With children in the house, your computers should also have a premium anti-malware program on every device to regularly scan, clean and protect your PC from all internet threats: viruses, spyware, trojans, bots, adware and worms.

With anti-malware software, dangers are recognized immediately when they try to run or are being downloaded from the web. New malware definitions are also updated on a regular basis to ensure all new malware programs are detected with every scan.

Exploit Protection and Ransomware Protection

With secure Malware Protection you will also have Exploit Protection and Ransomware Protection while surfing the web as it blocks PUP (Potentially Unwanted Programs) and even scams.

Beware of installing any software from a source you are not sure about. The ironic thing is, you may be downloading malware contained in the very software program promising you malware removal. This is not the case with a trusted program.

Brute Force Attacks.

MalwareBytes also protects against brute force attacks. This is when RDP attacks from around the world can gain access to any one of your devices that is connected to the internet. Once in, hackers can infect other devices as well as steal your private data.

To see if you are infected by Malware including viruses, spyware, Trojans, bots, adware or worms – Scan and Clean Your Computer!

Additional Internet Security Solutions

While we have mentioned that Anti-Virus Software is not an effective tool against Malware, please don’t misunderstand. Anti-Virus is still important to protect your computer against infections through your incoming email. These programs are not to be confused with parental controls, which allow you to block access to websites that do not have appropriate content for kids and teens.

Here are the most dangerous pop culture search terms in various categories that could potential lead your computer to become infected with malware.

Why Malware Protection is Important

In the words of something you use every day…

A Letter from Your Computer

Dear Human. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me. After all, we spend a lot of time together. Together, we explore the big, wide world. We play, we learn and we visit with friends. But I need to be honest with you. There are some things you do that make me feel bad.

I don’t like it when you click on bad pictures.  They make me uncomfortable and sometimes when you look at ugly pictures, I get hurt. The people who post that gross stuff also stick viruses in the picture. By clicking on those pictures, you can accidentally download a virus which could make me sick.

If I get infected, I’d have to go to the computer doctor to get fixed. While I’m being repaired, you won’t have me to play with. I’d miss you. Please, watch out for gross pictures and websites with creepy names.

I know you want to watch that new movie that just came out, but think before you click. Streaming and downloading sites are filled with all sorts of malware that I want to keep you safe from. When you steam a movie or download that show, you could also be downloading spyware or phishing software.

Some stranger far away can then look inside of me and take your pictures and emails and videos. Then can even break me so bad that I can’t play with you anymore. Please, take care of me. Don’t stream or download unless your parents have a subscription with a business they can trust.

Also, I don’t like it when you use me to hurt others.

It might seem like fun to you or a way to show friends how clever you are, but those mean words sting. I’m your friend, not some goon you use to push people around. Please, be nice when you use me. Be polite. Remember, computers are supposed to better the life of humans, not cyberbully people around.

I’m your friend, your study buddy. I allow you to play games. I’m the tool that can take you all the way around the world while you sit safe in your home. Let’s share the world together. Think before you click.

Yours truly,
Your Computer.

P.S.  My friends—your cell phone and play station—wanted me to remind you that they feel the same way that I do.

Ransomware Protection

Ransomware Protection

Ransomware is malicious software that locks your computer including all your files so you can’t access them.  It can happen to individuals, businesses, schools and governments.  Your computer screen will show a message that your files have been ‘held for ransom’ and will be unlocked only if you pay.

The payment is most often requested in Bitcoin so that the identity of the thieves can’t be tracked.  The larger the organization the larger the payment amount will be, but it’s quite a hefty sum even for individuals.  Unfortunately, this encrypted ransomware software is so secure the only way to unlock the frozen computer files is to pay the ransom.  This is why it’s so important that individuals and institutions alike take steps to prevent ransomware from taking hold if their computer’s operating system in the first place.

How Does Ransomware Infect Computers?

This malicious software most often enters a victim’s computer through phishing emails.  An unsuspecting yet official request comes to you in an email and asks you to click a link or open an attached file.  This activates the ransomware immediately and your computer is locked.

Computers can also be hijacked by ransomware when you visit an infected website. It may not even be a link to a site in an email.  You may be surfing the web and be taken down a rabbit hole and end up on a seemingly innocent website that has been infected.  Or the website may have been created for the sole purpose of hosting ransomware.

How to Stop a Ransomware Attack

The first step to protecting yourself against ransomware is to never click a suspicious link in an email and be very cautious about opening attachments in emails from someone you don’t know.  You will also want to ensure you have proper anti-virus software on your computer to screen your emails and remove virus attachments, but it won’t stop a phishing link from arriving in your email.  Your operating system may already have a built in anti-virus program or it may be activated on your email server if you are a business or school.

Important:   Anti-virus programs do not block ransomware.  They simply quarantine viruses and malicious software in attachments to protect you from opening them. As mentioned, anti-virus software does not stop phishing emails either.

The only reliable and secure way to prevent someone from locking your computer files is to install anti-malware software that also provides ransomware protection.  It keeps malware away from your computer and blocks a variety of cyber attacks, as well as any ransomware attacks that come to you via an email attachment or when visiting an infected website.

When ransomware where infects a single computer within an organization it quickly spreads throughout the entire network to lock all files on the network.

Anti-Virus vs Malware (and Ransomware) Protection

Computer protection can easily become confusing.  How many different internet security solutions does a person need to feel safe online?  Let’s review what we’ve discussed.

Anti-Virus:  This is the most commonly promoted software related to internet security.  But before you buy anti-virus software, research what built-in protection your computer may already have.  The main benefit to anti-virus is to stop viruses from coming to you in emails, but anti-virus will not stop a phishing email with a link to a virus or to malware such as ransomware.  Most phishing emails exist to fool you into logging into you personal account to steal your user name and password, but that doesn’t mean it could be to other harmful malware such as ransomware.

Anti-Malware:  This is not a new software program but it is commonly overlooked when many people think about online security.  Any built in security that comes with your operating system, or an anti-virus program, will not stop malware related internet threats such as spyware, Trojan Horses, bots, adware and worst of all Ransomware.

Being a victim of Ransomware may be one of the most scary things that can happen to a computer because it can end up costing you or a large organization a lot of money.  Some people who have paid the request ransom find the online cyber thieves asking for more money before computer files are unlocked for the victim.  Education only goes so far to stop it come happening.  Prevention through software is a small price to pay, especially for a larger institution.

What is Ransomware?  Watch this video, then click the link below to make sure you are protected.

Safe Search

What does it take to provide a safe web experience for kids? It takes a combination of tools and resources working together in unison: internet filtering, safe and secure browsing, parental control apps, and education regarding a variety of topics. Safer search is our mission at Safe Search Kids as we work to deliver these four cornerstones of online safety to parents, teachers, and students.

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