Basic Online Child Safety through VPN

Children need to be taught basics of their online safety and made to understand the reasons.

SafeLabs is a company dedicated to original research of how best to protect our children while they are online. SafeLabs uses VPN technology to redirect all Internet traffic to its servers where it can inspect it and apply appropriate filters.

Few essential things and their remedies that need to be told to child are:

There are ‘Online Predators’

 

Online Predators_child

First and foremost concern while your children are online is to tell them about online predators. There are different types and ways but the most dangerous are the ones who eventually want physical access to your child. They have to look out their search in a location in their vicinity.

The role of IP address in revealing your location.

Whenever you are online, you get a public IP address. If you are at home, it is the IP address provided by your ISP. If you are in a cafe or at airport, it is an IP address provided by the wifi provider.

Visiting a website like http://ipstack.com would reveal many details available through your public IP address. This includes your location. In most cases of online access (web surfing, chatting, talking etc), the other party also knows your public IP address and from there can know a lot of where you are physically located.

If you want to hide your location, hiding your public IP address is a mandatory first step.

How SafeLabs VPN technology helps

As mentioned in our other white paper, VPN technology redirects all your Internet traffic to our VPN server. Once VPN is connected, your public IP address shows as one of our VPN servers in some of our data centers around the world.

As a typical example, anyone connected to our VPN server in Canada, will show the public IP address as from our data center in Montreal.

There is nothing special SafeLabs is doing here. Any VPN service would hide the public IP address for you. This is how far the technology can take you. There is no undermining the importance of telling your children to never reveal their private details especially their location to strangers.

There is ‘Adult Content’

 

Adult Content

Children need to be told that some content is only appropriate once you reach a certain age. If they see any image which looks inappropriate, they should stay away from it. Most of the times such websites are opened when a child clicks on a link provided to it through other means like Email or instant messaging.

How SafeLabs VPN technology helps

SafeLabs monitors all web traffic and blocks access to domain names which are showing adult content. There are around 200 new domain names that appear every day showing adult content. With SafeLabs VPN, they are automatically identified by our community / third party partnerships and blocked within hours of appearing.

Access will be blocked even when the link came to the child in an Email, instant messaging, or even embedded deep inside a game or other mobile app.

Search could reveal potentially dangerous results

 

Search could reveal potentially dangerous results

When children start their search, they start with major search engines like Google or Bing. One search leads to other and child travels further. In fact starting from a search result is the first and most common reason an underage child gets exposed to adult content who otherwise has no clue of the website domain name.

All major search engines are equipped with technology to identify obscene or adult content but will only filter them if the are told to to do. It is typically called ‘Safe Search’ and should be turned on when children are using them.

How SafeLabs VPN technology helps

SafeLabs makes sure that all search requests going to Google, Bing and other major search engines get their Safe Search option turned on.

It is difficult to turn Safe Search options on while searching from mobile phones. SafeLabs does it automatically.

 

Identity can be stolen

 

phishing attack

Children need to be taught to keep their password secret. But children mostly lose their identity through a ‘phishing attack’.

As Wikipedia explains it “Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, it often directs users to enter personal information at a fake website, the look and feel of which are identical to the legitimate site.”

Phishing attacks can be sophisticated.

How SafeLabs VPN technology helps

SafeLabs keeps a near real-time list of websites providing phishing attacks. Within 24 – 48 hours after a website is identified, it is propagated in all our VPN servers. Even when the links to such websites are hidden in email, instant messages or any other form of communications, they are promptly blocked.

Not all software is trustable; there is Malware.

Malware comes in many shapes. Most of it is blocked by antivirus software. But there are still ways where it can get through. Most spyware doesn’t even need to be installed to catch the eyes of antivirus software. Children should be taught to never click on ‘install’ button for a software. It can come as a browser extension or an operating system application.

How SafeLabs VPN technology helps

SafeLabs integrates with some of world’s best lists that capture sources of such malicious software. Within hours of identifications, access to such websites is closed.

 

Ads could be obscene

 

ads

 

Ads appear on many websites. Some of them are served through third party ad servers. Children also get to see Ads in apps installed on their mobile devices.

Ads always hyperlink to a third party website. Porn and adult industry has known and carefully crafted series of Ads where the first Ads looks benign and bonafide but as the child keeps clicking on the series of such Ads, in few clicks it lands in territory where it shouldn’t be.

How SafeLabs VPN technology helps

SafeLabs VPN monitors all traffic going to Ad servers and we block thousands of such Ad serving networks. There are one who are known to serve ethical Ads. They are all whitelisted. In cases when the child makes one or more clicks on successive Ads, as soon as the next Ad is served through one of malicious Ad serving engines, we block it. If the Ad is linked to an adult domain, clicking on it results in the blocked page.

Other threats

There are many other threats or websites which parents may like to block for different stages of their children growth. Our normal access VPN servers are shared among all users and that is why they are configured with our default policy; which is mainly geared towards blocking different ways to reach adult content.

But there may be cases where parents / schools / libraries or other customers may need more customized behaviour. For such users, SafeLabs VPN offers ‘dedicated machines’. They offer customers ways to configure their own machine in their own ways.

Internet is a place with a lot of activity. SafeLabs ambition is to provide user friendly experience to its users. It is prohibitively difficult for parents to maintain configurations as new sites / threats appear.

With our dedicated machines, administrators / parents choose at a higher category level what they do or do not want their children to do. Once the category is chosen, SafeLabs continues to monitor the Internet and update its configurations as per their instructions.

Some other lists that we maintain which can be turned on / off on dedicated machines include:

 

List Description Default Status
Ads Advertisements and Tracking Blocked
Blasphemy Blasphemous sites offensive to religion Unblocked
Blogspot-X Blogspot sites featuring porn and adult content Blocked
Images Anonymous Image Boards Unblocked
Clickbait Low value, sensational & distracting content. Unblocked
Contraband Alcohol, tobacco, illicit narcotics & street drugs. Unblocked
CP Known & suspected illegal content. Blocked
Cryptojack Cryptojacking: coinhive & other unauthorized miners. Unblocked
Dating Hooking up & dating. Unblocked
Doj-seized Domains seized by law enforcement for criminal activity. Unblocked
Fakenews Fake news websites which spread false or untrue stories. Unblocked
Feminist Feminism related. Unblocked
FileSharing Anonymous file uploading & link sharing. Unblocked
FreeWeb Free hosting services. Unblocked
Gambling Wagering, betting, gambling. Unblocked
DynDNS Dynamic DNS Service Unblocked
Gaming Any sort of gaming related websites Unblocked
ImageContent Image hosting sites Unblocked
Malicious Phishing and Malware Sites Blocked
Piracy File sharing & piracy related Unblocked
Proxies Proxies users may use to bypass your filters Unblocked
Racism Racist, segregatory, supremacist & bigoted. Unblocked
Social All social media websites Unblocked
Terrorism Terrorism or Extremist Material Unblocked
Video Video hosting sites Unblocked
Weapons Weapons, firearms, guns, knives. Unblocked

 

Conclusion

SafeLabs is doing pioneering research in the overall online child safety space.

Connecting SafeLabs VPN shuld be a mandatory first step when children are online. There are ways where it can be configured in their mobile phones / laptops / PCs to stay ‘Always-On’. In that case, they don’t have to do it manually.

But in other cases, there is always a button they need to press to get SafeLabs VPN connected before they open any applications. Refer to https://SafeLabs.net website for different ways to connect VPN on different types of devices.