There are dozens of reasons web users shouldn’t have access to certain online content. Middle schoolers, for example, shouldn’t be able to read profane lyrics in the library. Likewise, employees probably shouldn’t be visiting gambling sites or pornography pages during work hours.
The Solution: Content-Aware Filtering
Content-aware filtering is the concept of blocking access to certain kinds of online content. Filters come in many forms, the most prevalent of which is the traditional “URL blocker.”
Smoothwall isn’t a traditional URL blocker; Instead, we rely on a proprietary content analysis engine we’ve nicknamed Content-Aware. Here’s what makes it special.
The Problems with URL Blockers
Before you understand why Content-Aware is exceptional, you need to understand the limitations of the alternative. Excluding entire URLs from a system is problematic in many ways. Here are a few of the most pressing issues with traditional URL blockers, which deny access to websites based on their web address alone.
URL blocking relies on a list, maintained and added to by administrators. Keeping this list up-to-date is a lot of work, and it can never be done effectively. Tens of thousands of websites are created every single day.
Circumvention has always been a problem for URL blocking technology. Internet users are getting more savvy, and many know how to get around denied access by creating proxies or other backdoors to off-limits content.
Blocking entire URLs also increases the risk of over-blocking content. While some websites should be blocked in their entirety, others contain some questionable content and some useful content, too.
Content Aware is the Alternative
Content-Aware is different. Since 2001, the team at Smoothwall has been perfecting the Content-Aware system, creating one of the most robust content analysis tools on the planet. Our goal is to keep out the bad stuff without blocking access to the good stuff, too.
How Content-Aware Works
Content-Aware uses a variety of signals to determine whether a webpage, not a website, should be blocked. These include:
There are a lot of signs to look for when determining whether or not content should make it through. Of course, the system also integrates the same functionality of URL blockers, allowing administrators to categorize whole sites, topics, and/or language as banned.
Nothing Gets by Content-Aware
Because Content-Aware is designed to detect questionable content, not questionable websites, it offers an unparalleled level of granularity. When a content filtering decision has to be made, do you really want your system relying on a list? A more intuitive solution will always provide better results.
And because Content-Aware is so granular, it doesn’t over-block content that might still be useful. Youtube, for example, can be a great educational tool for a student researching a biology paper. It shouldn’t be blocked just because. A Youtube video offering tutorials on how to do a striptease? It definitely should. Content-Aware can tell the difference.
Content-Aware is just one of the ways Smoothwall is different from other content filtering solutions. Ready to learn more about how our tech-forward suite of software and hardware can improve your school, business, or organization?
Our specially developed technologies deliver real-time Dynamic Content Analysis™ of web pages, all without impacting on the users’ experience.