, “My name is Mrs Odhiambo*,” a middle aged woman, elegantly dressed introduced herself. “What I am going to tell you is very private and confidential. My husband has been using our home computer to surf pornographic materials and I am afraid it’s wrecking our marriage,” she confided in a near breakdown.
Though there is little evidence that the rapid pace of technology innovation has made life more enjoyable, it’s crystal clear it has allowed us to do things we never did before with relative ease. It’s not uncommon, for instance, to see people holding meetings on the move. The line between the benefits of technology advancement and the dangers it spawns is thin, sometimes blurred.
The trend to abuse technology is worrying and calls for immediate action. The era in which proper internet use was left to the discretion of users is gone. The belief that forbidden fruits taste sweeter has led to an onslaught of illegal and obscene materials that not only pose great danger to our systems but also lead to moral decadence. It’s no wonder social vices like infidelity, masturbation, bestiality, and rape among others are prevalent.
Universal availability of cheap internet and advanced technology has not spared even the naïve users. People like Mrs Odhiambo should also be wary of internet paedophiles from far-flung countries constantly preying on underage children. This is possible if they share the home computer. Spurred by sheer curiosity, children will always stumble on obscene material – a prelude to child pornography.
Mrs Odhiambo’s dilemma is becoming common in Kenya and is replayed in many households as later reported by a print media.
“One way Mrs Odhiambo can get respite is by using web filters,” advices Cyrus Riunge, an Internet Security expert at Mumias Sugar Company. “Web filters look at contents of the site one is browsing and compares it against a set of regulations. If the website does not pass those regulations, the site is blocked from opening.”
The regulations against which the website contents are compared include words commonly used by pornographers, cultist, occultists, drug pushers, purveyors of hate and violence. They also check videos, audios and image files. “Filters can be applied but Mrs. Odhiambo should start by segmenting her computer into two user accounts; one for the husband and another for the children. Since different standards will be applied for each level of user,” Mr Riunge instructs.
One of such filter that Riunge recommended to Mrs Odhiambo is iProtectYou. This is an internet and monitoring software that allows you to block emails, chat sessions, instant messages and peer-to-peer connection e.g. Facebook and twitter if they contain inappropriate words in form of images, audio or video files.
iProtectYou is very beneficial as it protects the whole computer. This would include accessing stored material that is inappropriate. So Mrs Odhiambo didn’t have to worry about previous materials her husband might have saved. In addition, it is highly integrated with most common search engines like google such that users who attempt to by-pass the filter via search engines are also blocked.
In case you are interested in tracking internet usage, the software has an option for profiling all the events that took place at a given period. This can be used to prove a claim and as a guide of what to block. The profiled information include screen shots, the time of day and the culprit.
The module can also be configured to block internet usage at certain times for example a child visiting the internet when there is no person to guide him or her. This ensures safe privacy.
Other deterrent measures are available from the internet. Be sure to consult internet security personnel or your Internet Service Providers (ISP) on which ones to choose. Most of the web filters can be customised to one’s liking, but need constant updating. “Pornographic content is dynamic and stealthy in nature. Web filters need regular updates to keep in pace with the changing trends,” implores Mr Riunge.
ISPs have made a studious effort to mitigate the issue of internet pornography. It’s also important to note due to the great number of clients they deal with and the ever changing tricks of pornography vendors, their techniques have been compromised and only serve to the minimum.
Cyrus Ngotho, a System Engineer at a leading ISP complained of this. “We use filters to browse and search engines for safe search. We have also put in place requirements for complaint sites and blocking illegal ones. Regrettably, people have acquired technology that help them by-pass these controls.”
(* name has been changed to protect identity)