Review: K9 Web Protection

I recently decided to try another Internet filter: K9 Web Protection by Blue Coat. After a few days of using it, I have to say I’m quite impressed.

K9 Web Protection is a FREE service. I say service because the way it works is the sites you visit are filtered through their servers as opposed to them being checked through something that’s installed on your computer. You still have to install a driver on your computer, but the lion’s share of work is done remotely. The administrative control panel is actually a Web site you log into to view sites visited, offenses, and add sites to block or accept lists.

One of the things I like about K9 is that I haven’t noticed a significant decrease in performance while I browse. ContentProtect, another Internet filter I reviewed recently and one that I have been using for almost two years, seemed to bog things down a bit. I’m not blaming it completely, but the fact that I uninstalled it and installed K9 instead does raise suspicion.

With K9 you can’t create profiles for each member of your family, but its clean, easy-to-understand interface and ability to keep to certain types of sites from being viewed I think makes up for that. It tracks every site you visit and categorizes it for future reference. You can manually enter sites into its settings to have them blocked or accepted. And if you happen to land on a site that for some reason is blocked but you don’t think it should, you can either temporarily override K9′s decision for 15 minutes by entering the administrator password, or override it permanently. (You can even have the mascot dog bark when a site has been blocked.) :)

Though I have not tested it yet, K9 claims that it can block anonymous surfing sites — sites that allow you to “cloak” your surfing by entering a Web address into its own form. This is something that I know ContentProtect did not block on its own. Instead, you would have to add the anonymous surfing site as a blocked site.

One interesting thing I experienced just the other day has to do with the way K9 can block images. Using Firefox, I was browsing a forum which was inviting users to vote on logos for their products. The problem was I couldn’t view the logos. All I could see was a large empty space of where the logos were supposed to be. When I viewed it in Internet Explorer, I saw broken image icons, which confirmed that something was supposed to be there, but wasn’t allowed to be displayed. When I viewed the code to get the address for one of the images, I entered the address in another browser window to see if I could access it directly. That’s when K9 said the site was blocked. This particular image hosting service can be used to store images inappropriate for children (and adults) which is why it was caught by K9.

fww_icon Summary
K9 Web Protection is:

  • FREE!
  • Easy to use
  • Even blocks images from sites that are known for hosting offensive material but still allows a site using that service to be viewed (unless the site, of course, is offensive enough to be blocked)
  • Provides one set of Internet filtering configurations for all users (not individual profiles)
  • A Web-based service


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Comments

Thanks for this great article. I’ve been looking for a filter and will definitely give this one a try.

Once installed K9 monitors all web surfing activity, whether it is through Internet Explorer, Firefox or Opera.

Hi David, you are correct, but that’s the whole point. If it’s going to protect users from sites, it’s going to have to monitor all activity.

Hi. I have read some reviewers concerns regarding this product in the sense that all your internet activity is fed back to Blue Coat’s servers rather than being blocked locally. Therefore, there are some serious privacy concerns here.

Hi Someone,

I share in your concern over privacy issues, but in order for K9 and its ilk to work, the pages you visit have to go through their servers. Without that happening there’s no way they can tell if what you’re browsing is appropriate or not.

Also, bare in mind that as you surf the Web your IP address is being recorded to whatever server you visit. It’s a matter of trust with services like this.

Hi Everyone,
I want offer to clarify a few things, which may help alleviate some concerns.

(First, Ken, thank you for the review. We’re grateful for the kind words.)

K9 relies on Blue Coat Web Filter (BCWF for short) for ratings. BCWF is our commercial-grade filtering system. BCWF has several components, including a large database of ratings and a dyanamic, real-time rating function.

When a K9 customer tries to surf somewhere, there are three actions and four possible outcomes. Generally, omitting gory tech details, it works like this:

1) K9 says, “Have I asked about this website before?” K9 consults a local cache (sitting on the PC) for a rating for that site. If there’s a match, K9 doesn’t bother to query BCWF.

2) If there is no match in the local cache, K9 sends a query to BCWF: “What’s this URL rated?” BCWF consults its internal database to see if there’s a match. If so, it sends a category back to K9. (NOTE: It’s the URL, NOT the page, that gets examined at this point. Also, BCWF doesn’t know or care whether that particular instance of K9 will block or allow that site).

3) If there is no match in BCWF’s database, BCWF will fetch the page that the URL references, and do an intelligent scan on the page. Very proprietary, very cool (and completely NOT keyword-based). We call this process DRTR (Dynamic Real-Time Rating). IF DRTR can, with high confidence, determine the probable category of the site, it returns that rating.

4) If DRTR cannot with high confidence return a category, the response back to K9 is “unrated”.

NOTE2: In developing DRTR, we spend most of our energy trying to figure out how to recognize content that would put a page into a category that is most commonly blocked, across many languages.

NOTE3: Although BCWF is not perfect, it is very accurate. We receive between 50 and 80 MILLION rating requests every day from our user base. We have millions of computers protected by BCWF. And commercial organizations HATE “false positives”, so we work very hard not to mis-categorize something and cause it to be blocked unnecessarily. Our customer base, including K9 users, really keeps us on our toes. And every user instantly gets the benefit of what we learn from all that traffic.

So as was pointed out by Ken, to do its job, K9 will query BCWF to get a rating for a site.

Now, the key here is that, while K9 does in fact query BCWF, it does not forward personally identifying information, nor do we keep personally identifying information or surfing habits associated with any particular instance of K9. All blocking is done LOCALLY by K9 itself.

If you look in the K9 Admin tool, you’ll see that K9 keeps a history of the surfing behavior. THAT IS THE ONLY PLACE where such a history is stored. ON that computer, and ONLY on that computer.

Generally, Blue Coat is a “trusted brand” for enterprise customers. We’re deployed by large enterprises world-wide to enhance Internet security and performance.

K9 is our “community outreach” effort, not our main line of business. It wouldn’t make sense for us to risk our trust reputation with enterprise customers over K9, especially since we have no need to.

We’re serious about protecting our customers’ privacy. We don’t want to be in the business of having your personal surfing history for a wide variety of reasons. So we don’t gather and don’t keep data that we don’t need to deliver our functionality. And we don’t need that data for K9 to do its job.

I hope I wasn’t too long-winded, because I really do want folks to feel comfortable with K9. We’re trying hard to do our part, and we welcome feedback and questions, both on the product and on how we’re doing as a company.

(By the way, you can find more long-winded thoughts of mine at my blog – TheInternetParent.blogspot.com )

Best regards,
John Carosella
Vice President, Content Control
Blue Coat Systems, Inc.

Hi John,

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and clarify how K9 operates. You guys have really put a lot of thought into it and I’ve really enjoyed your product ever since I installed it last year.

I’ll also start making visits to your blog. I took a quick glance and saw some great material out there. :)

Again, thanks and keep up the good work!

Good product. It had me all the way up to its inability to support multiple configurations for different users. Too bad…. Serious negative to a great product. Unfortunately, its a deal breaker.. Let me know when they decide to add this essential feature.

I understand your point, Eric. I, too, wish it had that capability, but I can also understand their position as well.

I plan on doing an interview with John Carosella, their VP of Content Control, in the very near future. I will ask him to provide a response to that.

So stay tuned!

I have tried many other filters and so far this one is the best I have used. The K9 filter is very effective and does not slow your computer down. The software is disabled by password so it is probably best to let someone other than yourself have password rights if you are the one most tempted by online porn. Go to http://www.k9webprotection.com to find out more about the K9 filter and download.

Eric,
We do recognize multiple user profiles as an important feature. However, in many cases, if it’s just two profiles your family needs, (filtered and unfiltered), the block page can deliver this kind of functionality (sort of).

Many people don’t realize that the block page offers the opportunity to switch to “monitor only” mode (currently, fixed at 15 minutes at a time). So if you are surfing and want “unfiltered” service, (and you have the admin password — or access to the person who has it) once you hit a block page you can select “allow all categories”; you’ll be unhindered for the next 15 minutes.

Not multiple profiles, but still useful in many cases.

Thanks for the kind words.

Does it run under Linux OS ?

Hi Daniel,

According to their web site, this is not offered for Linux OS: http://www.k9webprotection.com/faq.html#4

Thank you for dropping by.

However, we do have a partnership with LinSpire…it’s not K9, but it is Blue Coat Web Filter that does the background work, for their SurfSafe product (visit http://www.linspire.com/surf_safe_info.php for details). Note that it says “Powered by Cerberian” – that’s the company that Blue Coat acquired in 2004. Old logo, current technology.

I just happened across this filter the other day. I had been a user of content protect, but became very unsatisfied with these last couple updates when things started malfunctioning with my computer. I uninstalled it, and all was well. I am delighted so far with K9 web protect. It provides the features we needed, and at a wonderful price. Some other filters may have a couple other bells and whistles, but I have a hard time complaining about something that is this free! From what I can tell this program provides great protection, wonderful accountability, and is very minimally intrussive. That was one of my bigger complaints with content protect–it blocked a lot of good content. In fact, one time I remember it blocked its own site! I am a pastor of a Baptist church, and I have begun recommending this to my people so that their families stay protected and together. Thanks K9 Web Protect!!!

Thanks for your comments, Ben. I had most of the same experience you had with ContentProtect though never saw it block its own site before. :)

We have web filter at my work, which is a large corporation. They track everything that goes on with web surfing. If a inappropriate site is viewed a big nasty BLOCKED image pops up on the screen and IT is sent an email. I use K9 to prevent that from happening, that way K9 will catch the site before it attempts to go there. That way the site is still blocked, but IT and my manager’s don’t receive an email. The software is awesome and a good to have if you have a computer job like I do.

Hi John,

Well that, indeed, is an interesting use of K9. Very clever!

John – very interesting indeed. It’s good to see K9 put to use for small and medium businesses, no matter how you use it.

This might be a good opportunity, Ken, to remind your readers that K9 is free for home users; but organizations, please purchase your commercial license…(we offer very competitive pricing, and it’s an important way we’re able to keep K9 free for families.)

Thanks all, for your continued support.

Best regards,
jc

Very nice tool, I do very like the web-admin-interface. Just my 2 cents… I have installed and tested the K9 on my PC, found it very usefull. So I decided to install the K9 also on my 11-yo son’s PC. But…it didn’t filter anything. Where was the hack? Running the Comodo firewall on all our PCs I ordered my son to click on ‘deny’ button everytime the allow-deny question apears. So he clicked on ‘deny&remember’ during the K9 installation, when FW asked for K9filter validation :lol: Allowing the K9filter called by ‘all parents’ solved this problem and the dog is barking.

Hi Edgarius. Hehe…glad you found the solution to that. I, too, am running Comodo, and I wonder if members of my family inadvertently check that box as well. Thanks so much for stopping by and hope to see you return!

Huh. I didn’t know about that either! I’m going to forward this to our support and development folks. At the very least, we should have an online-support solution to this situation.

I don’t know if it is possible to bypass the personal FW (from the K9 side) to avoid this kind of ‘problem’ I have described. Because (in my opinion) both FW and K9 worked perfectly:
- FW was (unintentionaly) set to deny the K9filter connection to BlueCoat DB
- K9 didn’t get any ‘villainous’ information about entered URL, so it decided that the URL is ‘OK’

One solution would be to stop the FW during the K9 installation process (manualy-not so ellegant, stop-via-K9-installer – may be impossible). :wink:

You might take into consideration also the possibility of some kind of ‘checking’ process – K9filter should get information, whether the BlueCoat DB was contacted or not. If not, there should be displayed some kind of information instead of displaying the ‘not validated’ URL.

OK, sorry for my wise-thoughts, I am former IT-forensic scientist now working as security/ITsec auditor and expert witness and it’s midnight around => :shock: ‘going to sleep

P.S. Please John, give me info how you have solved this issue.

Hoping someone can help me. A friend of mine is using k9 and is very pleased with the product. However, her 16 year old somehow managed to break the administrative password and reset so he could view some sites he is not to be viewing. He also changed the password so that his parents cannot prevent this. We are wondering how he managed to break the password, and is there a way his parents can rectify this? If they uninstall and then re-install, would that do the trick? Thanks in advance for any help you can give!

Hi Susan, thanks for dropping by to ask this. John Carosella, a VP of Blue Coat, regularly monitors these comments, so I’m sure he’ll respond. If not, I know how to contact him.

But this is curious. I wonder if maybe it was more likely he found or guessed the password rather than breaking into K9 to find it, but I suppose anything’s possible. The parents will need the password to uninstall it, but that may be too extreme. Instead, they should just reset the password AND the default settings, then add their own settings to ensure the teen hasn’t approved sites he shouldn’t be going to.

Then they should proceed with grounding the boy for a month at least. ;)

Thanks Ken

My first thought too was that he must have guessed the password, but my friend says she used a brandnew password that she felt he wouldn’t be able figure out. Either he guessed, or he’s a whole lot more computer savy then we’d all like to think.

At this point they can’t do much since he’s refusing to give them the new password he set up….so I have encouraged them to unplug the computer and lock it in their storage shed until he has a change of heart (grins). However, not a long term solution by any means since my friend relies heavily on e-mail to minimize rural isolation.

Anyway, perhaps with a few days of having no access to the computer at all, he’ll re-think his options. I just thought I’d see if I could get any information that would help her.

Ohmygosh, Susan! The nerve of that kid! It’s a classic powerplay, it sounds like. You’re a good friend to be finding out what can be done.

Something comes to mind about the password though. Perhaps it’s possible that their browser is configured to remember and therefore pre-fill the password field? Just a guess. Or if the kid is really that tech savvy, perhaps he’s installed a keylogger to record all sorts of things.

Anywho, I hope he realizes the error of his ways and decides to play nice.

okay Ken….now keeping in mind the only two real things I know about computers is 1) where the power button is, and 2) how to do some serious shopping online (LOL), can you give me a reasonably simple step-by-step on how they can check the configuration, and correct it if need be? I really appreciate your help!

It sounds like maybe that 16 year old needs to do without the the computer for a while! :idea: Parents can (if they have the guts to do it) have a lot of leverage against a 16 year old, and they don’t need to know what he’s looking at–they already know that he is looking at what he shouldn’t. That’s just my opinion.

:lol: Sure. Try these steps:

1. Go to your Tools menu in the menu bar.
2. Select Internet Options.
3. Go to the Content tab.
4. In the middle of that window will be something call AutoComplete. Click on the Settings button.

There are several check boxes to choose from that, when enabled, will save information that’s been placed into fields on a web page. So the next time you enter text into that field the next time you visit that page, it should be present.

It’s very useful for it to do that, but as you can see, it can be dangerous if not used properly. The trick is to have it prompt you each time you enter a password or tell the browser not to save that type of information at all.

That said, I’m still thinking that there’s something else afoot here, like a keylogger, something that runs invisibly in the background that records what’s being done on the computer: sites visited, applications opened, passwords entered, etc.

I hope that helps. :wink:

Hi Ben, I could not agree with you more. Part of the power kids have is what the parents give them. Sometimes it’s because the parents feel they’re not qualified to enter the tech realm, which gives kids immediate control over that domain, and has we’ve seen here, locking the parent out.

Other times, it’s that parents feel like they should be a friend to their children and want to be accepted as such by them. I’m not saying that parents can’t be friendly, but they can do so without being a friend, thus putting themselves and their kid on equal terms.

Yes, a little computer-free time is in order. ;)

Ken…

I’ll pass the information along so they can check configuration. You mentioned a keylogger…is there a way for them to check if he has downloaded something like that?

Ben….I absolutely agree, but having said that, because he has been physically violent toward them in the past, I know they are quite intimated by him, and unfortunately their fear has sent him a message that it’s okay to use threat of harm to get his way.

You’re both awesome for taking the time to respond to my questions. Hopefully the information I pass on can be used to get one step ahead of him…..beat him at his own game, so to speak.

You’re welcome, Susan. Wow, it sounds like it’s worse than I thought. :sad: I hope things work out for them all.

As for the keylogger question, that’s sort of tricky as by its very nature, it’s designed not to be easily found. The best advice I can offer you on that would be to press the following keys on the keyboard: Ctrl-Alt-Delete.

Pressing these three keys simultaneously will call up a window giving you access to a tab called “processes”. That will list all the things that are running on the computer in the background.

Now, assuming there is a keylogger and assuming that it can be displayed in this list, you can Google the names one at a time to at least learn what those programs are.

Also, two can play that game–all they have to do is put a key logger of their own on the computer and wha-la! They’ll have the new password. But honestly, it sounds as though have already lost not only the battle, but the war. Very sad, indeed! I feel bad for them.

LOL…funny you should say that, Ben. I did a web search on keylogger to see what came up….found a free one and promptly sent an e-mail to my friend suggesting she fight fire with fire and download the program.

The situation is frustrating for me also. This boy is my birth son….my friend, his adoptive mom. Last year she asked if he could come live with us because they had become so frightened of him….I said yes. Not once in that time did he EVER pull this kind of BS on me….reason: he knows that in all of two seconds he would VERY swiftly be reminded who the parental figure is! Unfortunately when I re-located to Nunavut in 2006 he chose not to come with me, and returned to his parents.

I continue to encourage them to take a strong stand with him (should have done it years ago, in my opinion) before the trouble becomes ten-fold, but also know their fear of him is not unjustified. To date, he has been caught viewing website on how to make everything from drugs to bombs, and some of the most demeaning porn one could imagine. It frightens me to think what’s in store for him if he continues on this path! Nonetheless, they are his parents and all I can do is be supportive to them in whatever manner I can. I think denying him access to the computer/internet is a good starting point.

So Sorry Susan! I know it is a particular heartache because of the relation.

Susan,

I appreciate your concern – it is a valid one. After reading the post about your friend, I suspect that the following happened:

1. Your friend’s email inbox is accessible by anyone who uses her computer (a stored email password is very common).

2. Your friend’s son clicked the “forgot password?” link near the K9 login box. This sends a 24-hour temporary password request to the K9 license server. A temp password is sent automatically (and immediately) to the email address we have on file.

3. The son retrieved this password from his mother’s email inbox and used it to change the password for K9. He may have also used it to change the email address for her K9 account (all done within the K9 administration pages).

This situation is avoidable only if the email address used to register for K9 is one which only the adult/administrator can access. At this point, there are a couple options that she has:

a. If only the password was changed (not the email address), she will be able to perform the same procedure outlined above to change the password back. Also, the email address will need to be changed as well.

b. If both the password and email address have been changed, she will need to speak with her son and together they can uninstall K9 (using the password he set), reboot the computer (very important), and then she can proceed to request a new K9 license using a secure email address (I might suggest a free one from http://www.gmail.com).

As you can see, if K9 is set up properly using a secure address, it is a very secure program (more secure than any I have come across). In the future we hope to add some other measures to verify identity before sending any temporary password out. For now, I hope the information above helps!

Thank you,

Richard Ashcraft
Support Administrator
K9 Web Protection

Hi Richard, sometimes it’s the simple things that get overlooked. Great response and thanks so much for stepping up to help.

Hey everybody: another reason to consider using K9 — great support! ;)

Hello all –

When installing K9 and signing up for your license, it is very important to choose an email address that is *NOT* accessible by anyone besides yourself. We do not use your email address for any reason (it is never sold, and we don’t spam) – except for support issues. For example, if you forget your password, it is possible to request a temporary password to be sent to your email address on file. If your kids can read your email, they can access that temporary password and do what they want with your K9 installation.

So, again, to emphasize – PLEASE use an email address that only you can access.

One other pretty nice feature that K9 does is it will send an email to your address when it is uninstalled…in case your kid guesses your password and tries uninstalling it without your knowledge…

Hi Nathan,

Thanks for pointing that out. I’m sure that’s overlooked more than we know.

:lol:
Just wanted to take a few minutes to thank all who took the time to respond to my initial inquiry. The situation is now resolved….seems not having access to the computer was indeed as strong motivator….he gave up the password he created. We’re still not sure how he managed to do this in the first place as he is remaining tight-lipped, but hopefully this is the end of the nonense!

You guys have been absolutely incredible in your helpfulness, and I just wanted you to know how much it is appreciated!

I have a suggestion to ensure this never happens again…
Set the e-mail to someone outside the family so that there’s no record whatsoever of their password on the computer (ie. yourself, Susan, as long as you’ve never accessed e-mail on that computer. Or if you make an extra e-mail account with a completely new password solely for that purpose). Then have that set to be the e-mail for K9, and promptly request a new 24-hour temporary password. That will reset the program so that there’s no way the password can be intercepted, or guessed.

…I know this from experience, as it’s what I’ve done to myself in an attempt to pit my own teenage wits against those of this filter.

So far the filter is winning.

Hi Jimmy. If more parents took even a portion of the time you do in protecting your family’s computer, there would be fewer inappropriate websites being reached. Thanks for dropping by! :)

I hate this product! my teenager is very net savy and instantly found a way around it. And the bigger problem was that it cant show that she got around the filter so i didnt know and she obviously wasnt going to tell me. I would not recommend this product to anyone whos child knows how to use a computer.

Sarah, I’m sorry to hear that news, but I don’t think you can blame K9. If you could read the handful of comments just above this one you’ll find that there was a similar situation where a tech-savvy child circumvented his parent’s access to K9 as well, but that’s not K9′s fault. The most likely explanation (just an educated guess at this point, of course) is that either the kid reset the password by telling K9 to send one. If the kid knew how to get to that email address, then he has the keys.

Hello. Having my own two young daughters, I’ve just started digging around for monitoring and filtering software. This looks good, I will probably take it for a test drive. But before I do, I have a couple questions. 1) I have a feeling that Sarah Berry’s frustration is a result of her kid’s use of a proxy server. I know the high school I work at, this is a constant battle. We are constantly blocking new proxy sites. Has any progress been made on this front? Until this problem is solved, internet filters are practically worthless. Although, while the kids are still young, the use of a filter would prove useful. 2) Has anyone tried installing the program under an administrative login, and then having separate user logins for the family members? Would this, in effect, be useful in differentiating the different members and their internet activities? Or no? Just a thought.

Hi John, yes, please do give it a spin as I think you’ll find it very useful. I’m not affiliated with the product, so I’m speaking from personal use.

As for your suggestion, I believe you’re on to something with a proxy server being a possible component to Sarah’s scenario. I’m curious to know what type of filtering software you’re referring to that your child’s school uses. I know at my children’s school they rely on a service that’s supposed to update their filters, but it’s highly possible that it’s a challenge to keep up with all the sites meant to bypass filters.

I’m not a big fan of using logins on Windows. Logins for software, sure, but I find the act of having to switch profiles on a computer is cumbersome. Having said that, I’m not sure it would solve things as a kid could still request a password be sent to their parent’s email account, and assuming they have access to it, then you have a problem.

Thanks so much for stopping by to comment. I hope you’ve subscribed to keep up with what I post. :)

Here is my question:

Will k-9 allow me to monitor the web browesing activities on my pc, without any visible sign that k-9 is running? I’d like it to remain out of site, without and pop up messages ro warnings for the sole purpose of monitoring, not blocking.

Hi m,

If I’m not mistaken, yes, you can configure it to accept everything while monitoring and not alert you to any inappropriate sites.

Thanks for taking the time to comment here. :)

All you have to do to delete the admin logs is to delete the Urls document in the k9 folder

@Pete
I’m a little behind in approving comments. Sorry for the wait. But thanks so much for your input. :)

:arrow: Is it possible that itake the k9 off my computer because I would like to download limewire and I can not do so

@anonymus
You can only uninstall K9 if you know the password to do so.

Hi,

We installed K9 on both home and laptop computers and it worked great. After the first day we found our daughter was sending emails (from maybe hotmail or where ever) as well as trying to access sites that obviously K9 had blocked.

So we ticked the block email box. Afterwards, being concerned about blocking all emails to our home computer, we unblocked/unchecked these boxes on both computers. Unfortunately since then we are receiving no emails at all. Have we messed up something on our computer and/or can we still find them as there are no emails showing on our internet service providers website.

Help.

Tom

@Tom
Hi Tom and welcome to Family WebWatch!

That is odd. Is it possible that you didn’t save your changes after unchecking the boxes? I seem to recall that happening on one occasion for me. Memory’s a little fuzzy since it has been a while.

They have pretty good support at K9 so give them a try. Plus, hopefully, they’re still monitoring this post and might even reply. :)

Hi Tom,

How do you typically retrieve the email that is being blocked? Do you use a web page or an email client like Outlook or Thunderbird?

Note that K9 cannot control most email protocols (IMAP, POP3, etc.) at this point. Only the HTTP protocol is filtered. If you retrieve mail through a web page in a browser, K9 can block traffic to that website. However, typically K9 cannot block traffic delivered to email clients. The only exception to that rule is Hotmail since it uses a proprietary HTTP email protocol.

I, too, suspect that you may not have pressed “save” at the bottom of the category block list. Could you check it out?

Also, the easiest way to see if K9 is blocking something is to:

1. Clear your K9 web activity logs
2. Immediately reproduce the email problem
3. Return to your logs to discover what K9 actually blocked

Once you know this, the problem is much easier to diagnose.

Richard
K9 Support Team

@Richard – K9 Support
Thanks so much for taking the time to help Tom out. :)

@Tom
See? What did I tell ya? These guys have great support! :)

lol… .lol …..lol :razz: im a 16 year old kid lookin at this and it makes me laugh.. my dad put K9 on my comp to block me from goin to myspace and facebook which makes me wonder….. wats up with that?? so if any of you grown ups know the answer… plz e-mail ….may be its because i might talk to an stranger and get my self killed or worst…. i dont know about you but we have something called common sense too.. oh by the way pardon my English because im not from U.S :D and oh yeah K9 ruins your memory…. ur youtube videos and all the other stuff will be faster without it……. and i have no opposition about parents putting restrictions on little kids but NOT teenager’s…..i mean you people expect them to go to collage and do all that hard work but you cant let them visit myspace????????

im sorry if i offended any one :cry: just expressing my feelings ;)

Sorry to rain on the parade, but I tried installing this product, and immediately all internet traffic halted, and both Firefox and IE browser crashed so badly, I was forced to restart the PC, as I was unable to force the processes to quit. This PC has NOTHING on it except a few locally-installed, CD-based, Disney games on it. It’s a 2.8 GHz P4, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB hard drive, so it’s fine for kid games, homework and internet usage. The instant I removed this product, all returned to normal. Maybe it works fine for some, but I’m forced to look elsewhere.

@Ken (not admin)
Welcome to Family WebWatch. :)

Sorry to hear of your trouble, but I’m inclined to believe that there’s something else to blame. K9 is a very good product. If installed and configured properly, then there should be no reason why it would have kept you from accessing the Internet. Do you have a firewall installed that it might be conflicting with? If the firewall is configured to accept it, then I would look at something like your antivirus program. If that still produces no results, then if you have another computer that you can access the Web from, check out your K9 configurations. Otherwise, I am hopeful that Blue Coat, the makers of K9, will respond as I know they’ve been known to monitor this post.

@RangaX
And welcome to Family WebWatch to you too. :)

Your dad obviously cares about where you go online so he’s showing that care by installing something like K9. I’m glad you’ve acknowledged the importance of common sense, which puts you ahead of other teenagers. Unfortunately, common sense isn’t so common which is to say that sometimes people have different views of what should or should not be done in some circumstances. While you may very well know when to not disclose your information to someone you’ve only known online, for example, there are quite a few other teens who don’t see it that way.

As for the difference in computer performance once K9 is installed, yes, there may be some who experience that depending on the type of sites being visited. It’s important to note that in order for K9 to do its job, all data must go through their servers before displaying it on a user’s computer screen. Depending on how well the site being visited is performing is something outside of K9′s control, but the end result will be safer content is being delivered. Thank you for sharing your view, RangaX

Over at HomeComputerGuide.com we’ve been using and recommending the K-9 inernet filter for a couple years. If parents can live without some of the bells and whistles of some of the paid filters, K-9 is by far the best one to use.

I created a free video to help parents install and set up K-9. You can find it at How to Install & Set Up the Free K-9 Web Filter.

Thanks Ken for the great post and Richard for your clarification!

@HomeComputerGuide
Thanks for taking the time to sharing your work. Good to know that K9 has so much support.

I am father of 3 kids. I am a professional IT guy for over 25 years. I know how to remove K9 cleanly without password, etc; if I have to. Richard the Support should understand what I say.

I have been using K9 for about 1 year. Lately I sense a problem of my 13 years kid. She is able to do whatever she likes. This K9 program is a headache to me instead of a helper to me now.

Why?

In short, my kid will never be able to get my email password. Including to guess out. etc. License, password, etc are all in a part in my very precious brain.

What my kid can in K9 do to be an issue? She can remove all the settings soon after she touch that computer. Even I set up just minutes ago. She can remove my email in K9. She can change the Admin password. She can do everything to alter K9 expect a parent to have. She only has a “user” level Windows login. K9 can tell me nothing until I check that computer when I have a chance.

Based on the above, apparently, K9 company does not understand it bugs and strategical approach. K9 should understand there is always difference in each security levels. As parent, we want to be respected to be a partner with K9 to help kids to best use internet. All the parental controls a parent want to do is to prevent web predators to harm our children. If K9 will easily give up/ away parent’s rights, why bother to use K9 and dream about K9 can help parent??? When K9 is not helping parents, parents have to scramble to work out any workaround in K9 for something. That is not totally wrong product strategy.

Writing computer algorithm is not difficult. If the program cannot be with parent, it is useless product! Period!

@daddyof3
Sounds like you have a very complicated situation. My hope is that K9 is continuing to monitor the comments here and will hopefully provide you with a response. Even if they don’t, I would encourage you to speak to them directly to address your concerns.

Thanks for taking the time to comment on Family WebWatch! :)

Yes, I did.

The point I raise here and bug I see is this. K9 should work closely with parent. No parent will spend time as a game testers like most kids do these days. They do not have that time. When K9 is not with parents, parents are fighting with two fronts instead of partnering with K9.

This the same comment I give to K9 (Blue Coat) company. But, K9 company does not reply. I just want to share this with other parents. They should serious consider whether this is a solution or just additional headache.

I will update the status if K9 company ever contacts me and provides a workable solution.

K9 is great. I’ve used it for 2 years now. However, I am starting to get away from Windows and I’m moving towards Ubuntu Linux. Anyone know when K9 will be Linux ready? (if you haven’t tried Ubuntu, you should look into it. Its Windows but FREE and stable.)

@Jim
Thanks for taking the time to comment and welcome to Family WebWatch! :) I don’t know the answer to your question though. I’m a Windows guy (sadly :) )

I’ve been a long time windows guy too. However, I am helping a small Christian school get a computer lab up and running. They have a bunch of donated machines that have old windows, slow processors, and small amounts of ram (1200 mhz, 256k). I found that Linux runs really well on this type of system as compared to windows xp. And with all the great open source software availabe such as Open Office, Schoolforge.net, etc it gives new life to this old lab. However, I hesitate to make the lab accessable to the web without protections. Kids will be kids and predators will be just that, predators so a connected lab without protection is just out of the question.
So as good as K9 is, if it was linux capable it would help countless people such as this school that is trying to squeeze more life out of old equipment. IF you hear of K9 going Linux please let me know. :-)

Thanks

This app works great but it doesn’t let us personalize the page displayed when trying to access a prohibited URL. This option would be great since the default K9 alert or barking alert are not very transparent (for a teenager not completely ignorant for exemple!).

OpenDNS lets us personalize the displayed page in cases like this, and I believe this is the only option missing in K9!

Hi All,
I was using CYBERPATROL which is 39.99USD per PC for a year. I have 4 PCS at my home and all are connected to internet. I was looking for something 100% perfect to block the adult content as I had kids at home. One day I came across K9 and my GOD, I am very much impresses with it. I cannot think better filter than this. It gaves so many options to restrict the adult(porn) sites. This is amazing.

Thanks K9.

Mandar

Well I installed K9 and my 15 year old got past the block and back onto Facebook in about 30 seconds – and she didn’t need my password either. ‘How to unblock’ is common knowledge amongst teenagers it seems. So it just doesn’t work!

Hi Alison,

Thirty seconds? Seriously? Since you were able to know that I presume you watched him/her do it and therefore know what she did. So please find out and let us know because I’ve never heard of K9 (or any parental control software for that matter) being breached in that amount of time.

Thanks for taking the time to leave your input! :)

Ken,
Do not need to ask Allison. You can just go Google, you got the answers. Depending on your typing speed, you could do it in 10 seconds. Seriously!

Allison,
You are not alone.

All other users,
You are fortunate – “so-far”

OK… There are two items I want to share with everyone. And, why I reply as the above. The first one is Google. The other is the “poor” programming design K9 uses.

Kids can easily get instructions from Google to “unblock” (compromise) by breaching the security hole in K9 program. There are many if you Google it. The poor programming approach is something K9 need to fundamentally fix it. It uses javascript that put some security control on your computer. Similar to cookies. One of the way to “unblock” it is to use certain url (those you type on the address line. Such as http://w…). Kids then have the K9 program goes to a different programing logic and pass (or to bypass) the route K9 thought to be. Such as security check. (K9 program does not re-confirm with the administrative/ security information on its database.) Then, kids get into the Setting if they want to change them. Including remove your (guardian/ parent) email. And, K9 does not re-verify this action along with other “administrative” setting changes with you (as parent/ guardian). Or, that is the reason some of you are wondering why you (as parent/ guardian) can not even log into it at all…

I have given K9 the above suggestions. No solution provided. K9 rudely replied me that how great K9 is. Ask me to give them the “exactly” the “evidence”, (instructions and step-by-step proof.) etc. Give me a break! Go Google themselves first. If still having problems to find out what a kid can find out, get pink-slip from K9 company.

Anyway… If you know your kid (or kid’s friends) likes Google, you are at risk of been fooling around by using K9. If you kids are simply want to play a bit more or longer with internet, your better luck (approach) is to have a kindly conversation with him or her. Teaching them the right skill and knowledge to protect them selves.

After I took away (uninstall) K9 in early 2009, I am happy ever since. This is our story. I have 3 children. I talk to the other two and have no parental control program on the computers they use. They are happy and I am happy, too. The “designated’ computer my other child use is under strict security control. From internet modem, router, network devices, firewall, Windows internal configurations, etc. No parental control program, either. My other child knows that I can take away (control of) that computer if I “want” to do it. Ever that, we still have had many “conversations” from time to time.

Hello all,

@daddyof3, that’s your choice to not use K9, you’re free to do whatever you want and with your kids also … but i must say that i tried many internet filters since 6 years … K9 is by far the best choice and wow .. it’s available for free, you all forget this point .. it’s free !

Thanks to the Team of K9, you’re doing a good JOB :)

Hi, I was wondering if K9 will work with the official release of Windows 7 that will come out soon? Or if there is a step by step way to allow K9 to work on Windows 7 because I’ve read comments about how people can select an option for the filter to run like vista when you try to install it on Windows 7. If there is can you give me the instructions to run K9 correctly on the Windows 7 platform? Please and thank you! (:

Also if anyone can answer this, is there a way that a user can disable the K9 functions for a limited amount of time and then have it run back normally so that it seems as if K9 never stopped running at all? I know that if you have the password you can unblock certain things and go back and re-block those items when you’re done, but K9 saves those changes in the logs. I was wondering if there is a way that users can bypass this where it is undetectable.

What happens if someone is surfing the internet in the safe browsing mode (Mozilla) or incognito mode (Google Chrome)? Will the filtering still work to block sites with just the history not recorded?

Hi Ann,

Welcome to Family WebWatch!

Traffic still has to go through K9′s servers and be evaluated before allowing it to be displayed in any browser. So my answer is “yes”, filtering would still be in effect.

@mzohsoditzy
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. It appears your comment got inadvertently trapped as spam before I caught it.

As to your question, I’m not sure about Windows 7 compatibility, but I’m leaning towards “yes” it should work as Windows is independent of the server(s) being used as you browse the Internet. I highly recommend speaking with the folks at Blue Coat, the makers of K9, to get more detailed than that. :)

To the parents wondering how the kid got a new password to circumvent the program, google is your friend.

I just installed this on my nephew’s computer at the request of my sister. BUT in doing a google search for stuff like “k9 bypass”, “K9 uninstall” (trying to think like the other person) I find that many teens have figured out how to crack it. The program can be downloaded again and installed over itself, the teen registers and makes his own password for the “new” installation, then UNINSTALLS as administrator with the new password. Or he doesn’t need to uninstall — as administrator he can now set the preferences the way he wishes.

Still, it’s an excellent program for free.

Thanks for that insight, Chazz. Simple, but effective. Hopefully, the guys at BlueCoat will work up a solution.

Thank you Ken for responding to me. I really do hope they make K9 compatible for Windows 7 64 bit… but we will see in the future.

As for Chazz, I would recommend putting the words “bypass” and “uninstall” in the words to block area of K9. I don’t know if that would work but you can always give it a shot. Hopefully it blocks any pages that gives instructions to get around K9.

Hello Chaz. I am an IT Security Professional (13yrs) and a BlueCoat Certified Engineer. I do not work for BlueCoat, or a reseller and I live in sunny Australia. I have three kids and the eldest is high school and is always trying to get a jump in front.

What you have described is only possible becasue your nephew is a local admin/power user on their machine or the Windows Domain if the pc is a Domain member). A properly secured machine (local or via Group Policy) will help prevent this from happening. It is easilly configured on XP and is almost in the way in Vista and Win7. Is is called UAC. (By the way, ANYBODY that DOES NOT EXPLICITLY need to be admin should not. This is how bad things happen to peoples machines, bank accounts and lives. You should login as admin when needed and run as local user when you don’t.)

Caveat here: When villain (insert nephews name here) has physical access, is determined and is smartish then it is game over, but that is another post. I will explain another time in detail if anybody is interested…….

We need to remember that security is a mindset. A way of thinking. Defense in depth is an industry chestnut but it is also as true as I am sitting here. Security is education and awareness. Technolgy is a subset of these. So, K9 is not a silver bullet, but it is a great product that leverages the technolgy and capabilities of an industry leading web security / productivity. It is another tool in a shed full of them.

cya :)

We installed K-9 on our computers over a year or two ago. K-9 appeared to be doing exactly what we desired it to do. However, I discovered that porn was still being viewed. After a talk, I was asked to be the password keeper. After several months, I once again discovered that porn was being downloaded onto my husband’s computer. It is way beyond any of my knowledge to discover how this is being done. I have changed the password, and it is still happening. I am sure that K-9 is not the problem because nothing ever appears on my computer. My husbands computer will block certain pictures on websites but not on others. This is heartbreaking for me because I do not know what to do. It appears that I need to give up – possibly even the marriage.

@Fredrikke
Thanks for visiting Family WebWatch!

I recommend going to the administration panel in K9 and reviewing the sites that have been allowed to be viewable. If it has been configured to view certain sites, then it will do so regardless of who knows the password.

I also recommend changing the email address that is currently associated to the program. It could be that the password is being retrieved via the “forgot password” link and then used to temporarily override any blocked sites. Another thing you can do is view the history in K9 or even the history in the browser being used and see when these sites were being viewed.

Hope that helps! :)

when i first got k9 i was all excited but now by spending some time surffing, i realized there are many, many sites that are not blocked, that should be . does anyone have suggestions

one more thing is there any way to block the search by a in appropriate search

Warning! Do not use K9 Protection. It’s a good program, but when you want to take it off, it’s impossible. I’m a mom of seven and we put it on two of our children’s lap tops a few years ago, but now cannot get it off. I saved the passwords and they don’t work. When we click get a new password to change it, we gets an error webpage. There is no support phone numbers or email to help you.

You can get it, but be forwarned. I wish I hadn’t put it on our computers. If you know of a way to get it off, please email me. I’m mad we got K9.

@Marcia
If you do a search on Google, you will find the link to their Support page here: http://www1.k9webprotection.com/support/index.php

There is definitely a way to remove the program from your computer. I’ve done it a few times myself. But not knowing why you’re having trouble, I recommend you proceed with getting their help from the link I provided above. :)

@ay
There is a way to add sites to a block list. You can find that exact question and its response on their FAQs page: http://www1.k9webprotection.com/support/faq.php

@ay
I think you’re asking if there’s a way to prevent something from coming up in the search results of a search engine, right? I’m not entirely certain how K9 can handle that, if at all. It would be worth asking them to be sure, but until then, the only thing I can offer you right now is to change your preferences on the search engine you’re using. Google and Yahoo both have a way to configure their search results. However, it can easily be changed by anyone as it’s not password-protected.

I think that this is unconstitutional as stated by the First Amendment. It does not allow people to express themselves. What most annoys me is that I can’t even access my own school files like I could and now I have to be at school in order to access them. Talk about lack in productivity. Also, if the ‘unrated’ sites say that it is not reccommended to block them, then why is it blocked in the first place???

I also hate how I cannot access sites like Amazon.com, my own local newspaper, and many sites that are not in the slightest offensive. If you are a parent with older teenagers and use this site, you are thin-skinned and babyish. Unless you know for a fact that your kids look at porn, don’t use this. Also, everytime I access Google Images, the listing for every picture is ‘Pornography’, and doesn’t really sort out what is or isn’t. In fact, in one month the program said it had over 300,000 pornography hits on Google Images. Tell me how that works.

What do you have to say to this. It’s ridiculous in many aspects.

@Anonymous but not Given
Welcome to Family WebWatch and thank you for taking the time to share your viewpoint.

I respectfully disagree with your point about K9 being unconstitutional. K9 does not prevent anyone from expressing themselves. It does, however, enable parents to filter what they deem to be inappropriate material from their child(ren). That’s a big difference.

You mention not being able to access your school work or to view certain parts of the Web. I fully understand your frustration, but would it not be appropriate for you to speak to your parents and ask them to consider reconfiguring K9 so that you can access information that is appropriate for you?

In fact, since you are having trouble accessing many other non-offensive sites (like Amazon), this tells me that the administrator who controls access to your K9 configuration should take another look at the way things are set up. It sounds like it’s being far too restrictive.

The fact that k9 is blocking sites like amazon suggests a problem given the process above. Another problem is an employertrusting the categories k9 gives as policy backing guidelines. I have seen urban dictionary dictionary get an “adult mature” category flag as well as non pornographic sites getting “pornographic” flags This can create very serious issues per labor laws.

I have tried numerous web filtering programs and services and I must say that K9 is the best I’ve ever used. It is fast, tweakble and highly effective. And the best thing about it is the fact that it is FREE, which leaves very little room for criticism. THANK YOU K9 FOR THIS GREAT SERVICE, WHICH KEEPS MY WHOLE FAMILY FROM BEING SOILED BY ALL THE MORAL REFUSE IN EXISTENCE ON THE WEB.

Hey,

I have recently downloaded K9 and started using it. However, i am having a bit of trouble. I have NOT blocked the E-Mail category, but have inserted websites such as “hotmail.com” and “http://mail.google.com” in the always block category.

The problem is, we have a family email and site on Google Apps. And even though, i have included the start page of that site and the inbox page in the “Always Allow” category, I am unable to access it.

I get a “Internet Explorer cannot display the page” on my IE, and get an Error Code 107 on my Google Chrome.

Can you please help

Thank You

@Rachana
Welcome to Family WebWatch.

I’m sorry to say that I don’t know how to address the trouble you’re having other than contacting the folks at BlueCoat, the maker of K9. Curious though, if you configure K9 to allow everything, do you still get the error message?

Ken, thanks for putting up this article for all the parents out there. I do have a question is there a way to make K9 log all the admin activities: like admin login/logout, change email address etc. currently it only records certain activities. I would appreciate it if you can forward my question to BlueCoat if you don’t know the answer. thx. Kev.

Kevin,
Thanks for visiting Family WebWatch. :)

It has been a while since I’ve used K9, but I don’t recall exactly what it logged when it came to admin activities. I recommend posting your question to their support forum. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

i am testing the k9 web protection and hoping to recommend it in our community households! so i installed it to some home owners in our community. 2 of them complained. upon checking the settings i found out that the settings i choose (custom – P2P and social networking unchecked) was changed to the default settings!
the admin password was only known to me, so there is no way they had changed it.

please give me some info about how to correct this problem.
This might help too!
1. before they noticed the problem he updated his anti-virus (AVG)
2. the other person’s anti-virus expired (NOD-32)

Hi James,

Welcome to Family WebWatch!

Glad to hear you’re giving K9 a try. I’m sorry to say that I don’t have the information you’re looking for. It has been a while since I’ve used that program, but if memory serves I believe once settings have been changed, they need to be saved, right? If so, could it be that they weren’t saved originally?

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