The news that suspected paedophile Christopher Paul Neil, has been arrested following an international manhunt launched recently by Interpol, will surely be welcome to parents who feel that they need to be permanently vigilant with regards to their children’s safety. Their concerns relate not only to the potential dangers their youngsters face outdoors but also on the internet, be it from chat rooms, websites or emails. It is alleged that Neil appears in over two hundred online images abusing boys. The features of the man in the images were obscured by a graphic swirl but technology was used by German police to decode this effect and reveal the face of a man whom Thai police subsequently said was Neil. Naturally, mums and dads are anxious that their children should neither be the subject of such images nor indeed be subjected to them.
Mark Brooks, Technology Manager of Manchester-based Global Security One (GSEC1), fully understands the parents’ anxiety as he has a young son. “There seem on the face of it to be myriad ways that children today can interact with each other, face to face, on the mobile phone and via the Internet. We parents can only do so much but that doesn’t stop us worrying. It’s recognition of the pressures that led to GSEC1 developing XGate, which can stop children visiting sites with unsuitable material, block emails with bullying or pornographic content, send an email or sms to parents’ mobile phones if inappropriate or ‘trigger’ language occurs while their children are in chat rooms and at risk of being groomed, and parents to remotely control the child’s computer by using simple replies to any email or sms alerts received.”
The XGate features an intelligent web filter, which is a dynamic solution checking against a centralised database containing millions of websites that are constantly updated, categorised and rated according to their content. Parents activate the web-filtering module via the XGate’s control centre to manage access to specific websites at either permanently or at pre-agreed times to children, e.g. education websites only before 8:00pm for support with homework. Parents can also select categories of websites and email content which is to be off-limits, e.g. sites with pornographic content. Should a child attempt to access such a site the XGate cross references it with the dynamic database, identifies that it is prohibited material, blocks access to the site, generates an alert page and informs the parents by email or SMS on their mobile.
In the unlikely event that a particular website requested does not currently appear within the categories listed in the database, the web filter uses an intelligent algorithm to rate the website and will block or allow the website accordingly, and also update the central database - all in real time. Access to the control centre is via password chosen and known only by the parents so that children cannot override it and alter the restrictions.
Unlike traditional security solutions for home PC users, the XGate is not a piece of software that sits on the PC and slows it down. It is a hardware device which plugs into the PC and includes an ADSL modem, enabling the user to safely browse the internet as fast as the connection allows.
The XGate monitors real time children’s online activity and alerts parents if relevant by email or sms on their mobile phone to inappropriate material and/or behaviour in terms of website content, chat room activity and emails and their attachments.
GSEC1’s XGate will:
- flash an alert page (which reads ‘This page has been blocked under the category of pornography, please contact your guardian’) on the PC screen should a user try to access a website with pornographic content; the page will stay on the screen until the child decides to navigate away from the site
- email or sms the website address to parents’ mobile phones to advise them so they can discuss with their children later
- block emails with pornographic or bullying content and attachments via its intelligent email filter
- email or sms to parents’ mobile phones if inappropriate or ‘trigger’ language occurs while their children are in chat rooms and at risk of being groomed; grooming language includes phrases such as ‘sex’, ‘secret’, ‘meet’, ‘mobile phone number’, ‘age’, ‘webcam’, ‘are you alone’ etc
- allow a parent to remotely control the child’s computer by using simple replies to any email or sms alerts received, including the ability to remotely shutdown the child’s computer
Key benefits of the XGate approach include:
- it is a unified approach to home Internet security so doing away with the need for the user to buy disparate pieces of software or worry about integration, compatibility and licensing issues.
- A single XGate meets all home broadband Internet security needs and allows up to 4 computers to be connected
- A single renewal relieves the user from tracking multiple software subscriptions
- It’s a stand alone device which stops threats before they reach the computer. Unlike conventional security software which will only identify threats when they have actually infiltrated the computer system
Mark adds ‘“It’s only natural that parents will want to try and safeguard their children from online threats such as websites with unsuitable content, child grooming and cyber-bullying. The Internet is an ever changing landscape and we believe that it is right for leading organisations in computer security, such as GSEC1, to play their part. It is our view that the XGate enables parents to be in charge of their children without being afraid of technology and the Internet which, used safely, is a wonderful tool.”
The XGate retails at £99.95 and is available via Amazon while visitors to www.xgate.com can find details of other outlets. The XGate is currently ADSL compatible as GSEC1’s research highlights that the greater proportion of the country has that type of Internet access and so it can offer a wider population of children the protection they need. The next iteration of the XGate will be compatible with ADSL plus cable Internet and wireless.
GSEC 1, which has over 100 employees, was founded in 2000. It has a facility in Manchester and an office in Birmingham in addition to offices in Godalming, India and Taiwan. XGate is based on GSEC1’s Prodigy range of business-class products. These were the first products to offer protection against blended threats and incorporate all aspects of business security including Anti-Virus protection, comprehensive spam filtering, secure banking and web filtering in addition to an impenetrable firewall.