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How does CYBERsitter help limit bad content from search engine results?

CYBERsitter actively filters search queries depending on the filters you have selected. CYBERsitter also has a "strictness" setting that lets you adjust how sensitive you want CYBERsitter to be when a user searches using a search engine. The strictness feature has several levels that allow you to set different levels for children, teens, and adults.

Many search engines also offer "safe searches". If a search engine supports this ability, CYBERsitter will automatically invoke this when it is active. Google, Bing, and Yahoo all offer this protection. They are by no means perfect, but they do generally do a decent job of filtering out objectionable search results. In our opinion, Bing probably is the best of the major search engines, followed by Google. Yahoo's safe search is not as good, and will frequently return a high number of inappropriate sites, even with safe search enabled.

Anyone who has ever searched for an innocent term such as "leather goods" and found a bunch of adult sites listed in their search results will appreciate this invisible CYBERsitter feature. This is even great for adults who generally don't need site filtering, but are tired of seeing adult oriented web sites being listed when searching for legitimate things.

Safe searches also apply to image and video searches. Unfortunately, only Bing does a respectable job with image and video searches.

What is the best anti-virus/security suite to use?

To best answer this question, consider this. If there were no viruses out there would you buy an anti-virus program? Probably not. Many of these programs are worse than the viruses they claim to protect you from. We regularly evaluate and test every major anti-virus program on the market. Our choice, hands down, is Microsoft Security Essentials. First, no company has more of an interest in keeping your computer running safely and smoothly than Microsoft. Secondly, no one knows more about Windows than Microsoft. In our tests, and in actual real world every day use, Microsoft is the best anti-virus product available. It does not clutter your computer with useless tool bars and other junk. It stops viruses, spyware, malware, and everything else that is designed to cause harm and it does its job without slowing down your computer. Windows already includes a perfectly adequate firewall, so you don't need anything else. Microsoft Security Essentials is also FREE and extremely easy to use. It is not just a free version, it is free period. It is what we use in our office and on our home computers. We can't give anything a better recommendation than that. Don't waste your hard earned money when you can get something better for free!

Do yourself a favor, even if you still have time left on your current anti-virus subscription. Uninstall what you are currently using and throw the CD in the garbage where it belongs. Visit the Microsoft Security Essentials web site and download and install. You never need to spend another penny on anti-virus programs or security suites.

Also see: How to configure Windows firewall for your Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 computer.

How do I report bad sites or accidentally blocked sites?

As hard as we try, there are occasions where CYBERsitter may accidentally block an innocent site or not block something that obviously should be blocked. If this happens, we would like you to report it to us. There are two ways you can do this:

  1. Use the form below to send us a message with the details.
  2. Use the built in tech support feature in CYBERsitter. This method is preferable if you are reporting an accidentally blocked site because it will also send us your current log file and we can investigate exactly why the site was blocked. It is not always as simple as it may appear, and this helps us tremendously.

Does the CYBERsitter company monitor my Internet access?

No, and this is an important point. CYBERsitter does all its filtering, page classification and activity logging on your computer. It does not contact our servers to look up blocked sites, nor are your day to day Internet activity logs stored on our servers. Why is this important? Well, there are a few reasons. Some Internet filtering products store information about your browsing and other Internet activity on their servers. You must log in to their systems to view the activities of users of your computer. This means that they know what sites you visit, what Internet programs you use, what computer users are in your household, and they easily find out a lot of personal information about you and your family. Over time, they can potentially build up a considerable history about how your family uses the computer. Some Internet filtering companies even sell this information to advertisers. We do not monitor your Internet activities. The only information ever sent to us is when you request technical support or when an error or specific condition occurs that will help us diagnose a problem or improve the product. All your activity information remains completely under your control. When you delete an activity log on your computer, you can rest assured that it is gone and there are no other copies anywhere else. If you are still shopping for an Internet filtering product, make sure that your personal activity information is only accessible by you.

What is illegal content and how can CYBERsitter help keep this off my computer ?

This a complicated issue and the answer depends on where you live. There are several types of content that is considered illegal in most countries. First, there is child pornography. This is illegal in the US and most other countries. However this is where it gets complicated. In the US, possessing child pornography is a criminal offense and if it is found on your computer, it could easily land you in jail. In some other countries where possession of child pornography is also illegal, the penalties may be much less severe and enforcement is much less aggressive. This is why people who distribute this kind of material generally locate their servers in countries where they are unlikely to face prosecution or where the penalty may nothing more than a small fine. Of course, CYBERsitter actively blocks child pornography and this a huge priority for us.

Other types of illegal content include copyrighted material such as music and movies. This is an area that parents frequently overlook, and this can get you in real trouble. Kids don't always realize that downloading songs and movies are illegal in the US and most other countries. Obviously the penalties are not as severe as in child pornography cases, but the fines can be very costly. Music publishers and movie studios actively pursue both criminal and civil prosecution, even if the offender is a young child. There have been numerous cases where parents have been fined thousands of dollars per song for music their children have downloaded illegally. CYBERsitter blocks known web sites that offer illegal copyrighted material, but blocking it all is difficult. Kids use file sharing software that allows them to "share" files with other users. In these cases, there is no actual web site we can block. Parents need to be especially aware of these types of programs and realize that the acts of their children may be exposing them to tremendous financial liability. CYBERsitter can block internet access for file sharing programs, helping limit this exposure significantly.

The next major release of CYBERsitter will also have the ability to block Internet access by country. We feel that this will be a valuable addition to the product. You will be able to specify particular countries you want to be "off-limits" or alternatively, specify countries that are allowable, but still subject to normal filtering. This will significantly reduce access to illegal content by letting you block the countries where illegal content is most frequently offered.