CyberPatrol Review: Parental Control Software
|Poor blocklist, easy bypass, no chat monitoring, and confusing interface|
CyberPatrol is another big name in parental control software. It boasts a much more customizable interface than Net Nanny, its better-known competitor. It has a number of good points, but also has some serious weaknesses.
There are definitely things we liked. Setup was very easy. CyberPatrol offers more user age-levels from child to adult, five of them to be exact. And there's a fair amount of customization too. It's easy to add words and websites to both the block and allow list. Unfortunately, the interface does feel a bit too cramped and muddled for our taste. There's also no search functionality in the activity viewer, meaning parents will spend a lot of time scanning a long list of URLs, looking for a specific website or keyword.
It's hard to go on giving CyberPatrol kudos when it failed in very obvious ways. Probably the most egregious is how easy it was for us to get around CyberPatrol. We were able to access pornographic sites through a number of common circumvention proxies. We were also surprised to see that CyberPatrol could not block any sites when we used Google's Chrome web browser. We were also able to receive emailed pornographic images from a Yahoo! group we joined (which, to be fair, necessitated lying about our age when creating the account).
Then there's the issue of the block list. CyberPatrol's block list is less conservative than it is dumb. It blocks image searches for "chicken breasts," but not for the first page of "bikini" results. We wouldn't have a problem with it allowing Google image searches for "bikini" if it didn't block "bikini" as a web search term (and inexplicably allow web searches for "chicken breasts"). While every parent will have their own opinions on how conservative a web filter should be, CyberPatrol's seemed rather strict for the Mature Teen setting. Among the searches that were blocked: "gay rights," "safe sex," "bikini," "KKK," "sex linked characteristics" and, rather inexplicably, "green." It's understandable when a block list fails on so-called gray queries (words that are ambiguous such as "breast" or "amateur"), but it's far too general with clean queries. It even displays an odd bit of sexism: allowing searches for the organs of one sex, but not the other.
There are other problems too. There's no built-in support for monitoring the more popular chat programs, so we could communicate age and location information between our two test accounts using Yahoo! Instant Messenger.
As we've pointed out in other reviews, when looking at software in this category, we try to take two viewpoints into account. On the one hand, the software should successfully block inappropriate content. On the other, a teen should be able to search for "clean" content without encumbrance. CyberPatrol fails on both accounts due to its overly broad block list and poor ability to deal with circumvention techniques. Given how much content it blocked at the Mature-Teen setting, we can't imagine what it would block on the Child setting, so it may have a use with users too young to figure out proxies and other circumvention techniques. Still, it's hard to recommend given all of its limitations.
System Requirements: Windows 7, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 2000 Professional, 32-bit versions only
NextAdvisor Blog Headlines
Which Services Keep Your Cloud Safe From the NSA?
Millions of Americans were outraged this past year when the NSA spying controversy hit the news. Since then, there has been a growing feeling of distrust in saving personal information on the Internet. With the rapid growth of online data technology happening at the same time as these new privacy issues, it can be a [...]
Can I Take My VoIP Adapter Abroad?
Q: I am going to be traveling for several months out of the country. Can I take my VoIP adapter abroad with me? A: This is a great question! One of the best things about VoIP service compared to traditional phone service is the ability to take your adapter with you when you travel from [...]
Heartbleed Bug Is Affecting Millions Of Android Devices
It turns out that the Heartbleed bug that possibly exposed users of many websites, which have since patched the bug, is now affecting about 34 percent of Android devices, according to a Google blog post and the company's statistics. Even though Google was able to patch most of its products affected by Heartbleed, such as Gmail [...]
Android Security App Scam: How to Protect Yourself
Mobile security is more necessary than ever, but it's important to be sure you are getting what you pay for when you purchase and download an app onto your phone. This lesson has been learned big time by more than 10,000 Android users who recently purchased an app called Virus Shield for $3.99 through the [...]
CyberPatrol Forum Posts
- CyberPatrol Review
Here is NextAdvisor's review of CyberPatrol: http://www.nextadvisor.com/parental_con ... review.php