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All Sourceforge.net Being Blocked by SmartFilter 482

Posted by timothy
from the where-smart-filter dept.
An unnamed reader writes: "I just noticed that all sites. '*.sourceforge.net' are being blocked by all corporations using SmartFilter including mine. SmartFilter lists all of them as 'MP3' sites. Below is the error I get. How come they do not block Microsoft? I can download an MP3 player from there, too (Media Player does play MP3s)." Here's the error: "Access is restricted to the site (http://www.sourceforge.net/) you requested. Per the firm's Information Security & Privacy Policy, all Internet browsing is monitored and logged. Please contact the Information Security Center at ext 7114 for more information. SmartFilter Control List category MP3 Sites is restricted. " The aptly named SmartFilterWhere tool shows which sites are painted over by SmartFilter's broad brush; in this case, software development site (and Slashdot sister site) SourceForge is blocked by the latest SmartFilter versions -- 3.0, 3.0.1 and 3.1 -- but not version 2. You might also be interested in The Censorware Project's analysis of the efficacy of SmartFilter as applied to Utah schools and libraries, or Peacefire's explanation of how and how well SmartFilter works.
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All Sourceforge.net Being Blocked by SmartFilter

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  • I know, what else can corporations do, other than hire baby sitters for all the employees with net access.

    But, in most cases, they are much more trouble than they are worth. Nothing lowers morale like big brother controlling where you go.

    Sometimes the most useful sites are blocked. I remember working at a school district, I got NOTHING but complaints/questions about N2H2 [n2h2.com], the filtering solution we were using.
    • Babysitters? Why?

      1) Make sure people are doing their jobs. You can tell this by looking at whether or not they produce what is required in the time they have to produce it.
      2) You can make sure restrictions on computers are such that they can't install software and/or do what you don't want them to.
      3) You can look over logs once in a while to find problem people.

      • Gasp! (Score:2, Informative)

        by Dalcius (587481)
        1) Make sure people are doing their jobs. You can tell this by looking at whether or not they produce what is required in the time they have to produce it.

        Unfortunately, it *seems* all too common to *me* that supervisors don't know jack about the people working under them. The novel idea of making a programmer a manager of the programming department seems to escape some people.

        *sigh*

        Note my sig...
        • Re:Gasp! (Score:3, Funny)

          by carlos_benj (140796)
          Unfortunately, it *seems* all too common to *me* that supervisors don't know jack about the people working under them.

          You mean like neither of ours know we're cruising around on /. right now?
        • Peter Principle (Score:4, Interesting)

          by mangu (126918) on Monday July 01, 2002 @07:09PM (#3804000)
          A good programmer is not necessarily a good manager. Unfortunately, when the average company promotes someone, they take the best programmer to manage the department.

          My solution to this problem: make pay independent of position. A good programmer should get paid more than an average manager.
      • Really. If an employee isn't performing, fire him. If he is, then net access and use doesn't matter so much, does it?

        If there was no net, he'd jsut be on the phone or something anyway -- there were distractions in the workplace before the internet, after all.

    • I agree. BESS is so intrusive. At least we don't have the version that advertises itself and some other scum company at the bottom of every page any more!

      Also that's why I've set up a CGI-proxy [jmarshall.com]
      Pi
    • REQUEST REMOVAL!! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x&snkmail,com> on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:18PM (#3802829) Homepage Journal
      Go to the smartfilterwhere [securecomputing.com] filter checker site and request that they remove it through the automated form:

      1. Go to the URL and enter "http://www.sourceforge.net" into the 'URL 1' field. Hit 'check URL'

      2. The next page should say "http://www.sourceforge.net MP3" if it is still listed.

      3. On the dropbox on the right, select 'remove from list' and hit 'send request'

      • Help a commercial consorware company do business? I think not.
      • Doh! Crappy server...

        Internal Server Error
        The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

        Please contact the server administrator, webadmin@securecomputing.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

        More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
      • /.....'D

        they'll prolly think that we are launching some sort of attack on them - and blacklist /. as well. after all we are the sister site of that bad bad bad (tm) mp3 siter sourceforge.

      • Request additions:

        www.cnn.com

        www.nytimes.com

        www.washingtonpost.com

        www.wsj.com

        www.google.com

        www.yahoo.com

        www.datek.com

        www.travelocity.com

        www.orbitz.com

        www.microsoft.com

        That should just about put an end to them.
    • by Grax (529699) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:19PM (#3802840) Homepage
      I say we use the filters to throw alerts but not block anything. Log the alerts and check them out. If someone seems to have a problem then deal with them personally.
    • by Squareball (523165) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:27PM (#3802910)
      I like these filtering products.. they are GREAT for telling you WHERE all of the good stuff is.. I love looking through the sites that they block.. they are always the best sites.. FREE pr0n ;) WaReZ, they got it all!
  • by RealisticWeb.com (557454) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:10PM (#3802755) Homepage
    <sarcasim> Haven't we all learned by now that free software is violation of intelectual proparty rights of proprietary companies? SF.net produces free software that will (if left un-checked) undermine the american economy, raise consumer prices for software and eliminate thousands of jobs. Not to mention helping the spread of terrorisim and threteing national security. They should be shut down and censored at all costs. </sarcasim>
    • Haven't we all learned by now that free software is violation of intelectual proparty rights of proprietary companies?

      I understand that you're being sarcastic, but what I don't understand is how they can make this argument. How does Free Software violate existing proprietary intellectual property rights.

      Just because I make something that performs the same functions and has the same features as a proprietary application (ex XMMS vs Winamp), how am I violating intellectual property?
      • How does Free Software violate existing proprietary intellectual property rights.

        The evil monopolistic corporations claim that the GPL undermines intellectual property by its "viral" nature, that would "infect" all proprietary code that would be shipped together with GPL'ed software, and would force it to fall under the GPL as well.

        This is of course utter nonsense (GPL only spreads to code derived from GPL'ed code, but not to code that is merely shipped on the same CD as GPL'ed code), but those evil monopolistic empires want you to believe otherwise in order to protect their own selfish interests. Indeed, the only way GPL'ed code really threatens proprietary code is by being superior in quality, and more consumer friendly ;-)

        Just because I make something that performs the same functions and has the same features as a proprietary application (ex XMMS vs Winamp), how am I violating intellectual property?

        You would not violate copyright by doing so, but depending on your jurisdiction, you might violate patents (see Fraunhofer vs. free mp3 players), trademarks (see the Adobe vs Killustrator case), or trade secrets (DeCSS). Of course, all 3 examples are pretty dodgy, and heavily depend not only on jurisdiction, but also on who interprets the law...

  • Dude, check it out! I just heard that this place called Sourceforge is like, totally blocked by our school's filters!

    Man, we got to check this out. It must have some sweet porn or soemthing on it.

    Yeah, we got to get there. All right, bypassing filtering software...oh, yeah. Here it is! Dude, we're in! Sweet porn, here we come!

    Click that one - Jboss! Must be a dominatrix or something.

    WTF - there's no porn here! It...it's just geek code stuff.

    The filter tricked us. Dude, those filter guys are so sneaky.

    Next thing you know, they'll be trying to get us to study or something.
  • by sporty (27564) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:11PM (#3802765) Homepage
    Hit their search page,

    http://www.securecomputing.com/cgi-bin/filter_wh er eV301.cgi

    and search for sourceforge.net. In the results, you can suggest a recomended they be removed from the list.
  • 2600.com (Score:5, Informative)

    by Copperhead (187748) <[ten.ysaekaeps] [ta] [hcerblat]> on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:12PM (#3802772) Homepage
    SmartFilter used to list 2600 [2600.com] as "criminal skills". Now, they list is as a political/religious site.

    Go here [securecomputing.com] and enter the sourceforge URL. On the right, "Suggest a Change" and tell them that it should not be on their list. Make your voice heard!

    • gnu.org? (Score:5, Funny)

      by cpeterso (19082) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:25PM (#3802881) Homepage

      Does SmartFilter gnu.org [gnu.org] as a religious web site?
    • by toupsie (88295) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:26PM (#3802899) Homepage
      I figured it should be listed under "Cult/Occult".
    • They should list riaa.org as an MP3 site-- has more to do with MP3s than Sourceforge.net ;)

    • Re:2600.com (Score:2, Informative)

      by ivan_13013 (17447)
      Geez, only one person needs to submit the link to ensure that it will be reviewed again. 1000 people doing so isn't going to do much except flood the submission system with duplicates (which will probably be dequeued before they are seen by the reviewers, anyhow).

      Listing SourceForge.net in the "MP3" category was almost certainly an accident. Secure Computing/Smartfilter has been very quick to resolve such issues in the past, typically providing automatic updates within a week or less.

      Finally, if you want 100 percent accurate filtering software, you might as well give up right now. The nice thing about SmartFilter, if there is anything nice about any of these products, is that the links are reviewed and categorized by humans -- who are good, and trained, but not completely infallible. While processing thousands of sites, someone might hit the wrong button now and then. It's not a conspiracy, folks.

      System admins who are frustrated by requests to un-block the site should simply add it to their local exemption file, at least until they recieve the next update to the control list.

      -=Ivan

      (disclosure: I used to work there a long time ago. There's no confidential information in this post. This message doesn't represent their official views or policies or anything. All facts stated in this message are potentially subtly incorrect.)
  • by User 956 (568564) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:13PM (#3802781) Homepage
    Seth Finkelstein [sethf.com] has written some software to decrypt the software's blacklist of forbidden sites, and has analyzed what he found. The list of blocked newsgroups is fascinating: sci.archaeology as occult, and comp.org.eff.talk as criminal, for example. He's found "extreme or obscene" sites like hotrails.com [hotrails.com] ("extreme sports" rollerblading on "naked metal"), gcsextreme.com [gcsextreme.com] (custom-built computers for the "extreme gamer," unfortunately at a domain name with both "sex" and "extreme" in it) and extreme-offroad.com [extreme-offroad.com] (same deal). Their music-critic skills need work too, as they block InsaneClownPosse.com [insaneclownposse.com], Tupac.com [tupac.com], Marilyn Manson [marilynmanson.com], and even Chumbawamba's Web site [chumba.com]. Every one of these and many more are blocked as "Extreme," which puts them in the same category as photos of mutilated dead bodies, bizarre hard-core pornography and child pornography.

    His discussion of the legal risks of decrypting these blacklists is fascinating too, and (as he likes to say) "a topic in itself." He would like to open up the source to his SmartFilter-decryption tool but feels the legal risk is too high. How sad is that?

    Here's Secure Computing's definition of the "extreme" category [securecomputing.com], and the examples they give ("Pixman's Vault of Porn Pix", "Bizarre & Maximum Perversion").

    You can confirm Seth's findings using Secure Computing's own SmartFilterWhere [securecomputing.com].
    It asks for your name and phone number; you have my permission to make some up. As of December 7, at 9:45 PM EST, that CGI operates with a Control List updated on December 5 and confirms all of Seth's results that I tried. By the time you read this, they may have quickly fixed all the errors he published, loaded in an up-to-the-minute Control List, and proudly announced that their software is now perfect.

    • Sounds like the crappy filtering service/software they used at my high school. We couldn't even go visit college sites at some points because they asked for your sex (male/female) on a form somewhere on their domain.

      Sometimes I wonder if they block sites for any stupid reason they can think up, or if they do a massive search for "sex" or something in a page or domain name and don't police their own results.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      they block InsaneClownPosse.com [insaneclownposse.com], Tupac.com [tupac.com], Marilyn Manson [marilynmanson.com], and even Chumbawamba's Web site [chumba.com].

      So, they have the new "Suckass" category up now?
    • sci.archaeology as occult

      Have you actually read sci.archaeology lately? That's really a pretty fair description.

    • Illegal? You're using their software, you have a right to see what the software blocks, otherwise, lets all start learning Chinese and firewalling outside access.
    • It would be interesting to try and write some erotica that couches everything in metaphot and allusions so as to totally bypass their filters.

      It would almost definitely end up sounding really bad, like the ones in this article on bad porn awards [guardian.co.uk] but it would be worth it to make something that was unblockable by any type of systematic filter.

  • Not Blocked Here (Score:2, Informative)

    by yelligsc (451575)
    Maybe my company is just slow to get updates... But we have smartfilter here at work and for now I have no problem hitting sourceforge.

    Anyone know why this might be?

    Scott.
    • Maybe your sysadmin hasn't blocked sites listed under "MP3", because he likes MP3s himself, or something like that?
    • Re:Not Blocked Here (Score:2, Informative)

      by silversurf (34707)
      Almost all of these filters work off of a rule base, just like a firewall, where rule 1 is executed first on down. Plus most filters have catagories which group URL's by, well, catagory. When you set up the rule base you choose which catagories to block, who is going to get blocked (all, certain workstations (ip's) or users (if you have user monitoring that tracks who's logged in where).

      So you're company may or may not block MP3 sites, or as you say, the db could be out of date. These filters are pretty flexible rule-wise, and so depending on how it's configured, it could be really stringent or not. Maybe they are just logging activity rather than blocking (??), that's possible too.

      -s
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:15PM (#3802805)
    I am calling for a boycott of Michael Sims, America's number one enemy in the fight against anti-anti-censorware, until he gives me an apology for his rampant goatse'ing and usurping of the Censorware Project [censorware.net], my pride and joy.

    Frankly, I'm shocked that I am not revered by all of Slashdot. My contributions to the world of anti-censorware research are comparable to the contributions of Jesus Christ to the field of religion. I won more awards from that project than Michael won in his whole damned life.
    Do not underestimate me. I will be heard.
  • by Lumpy (12016)
    Start blasting this smartfilter as crapware that hinder's productivity and only costs the company money in lost productivity and overspending on worthless software (squid is a better solution than ANY commercial filter/proxy on the planet. oh and it happens to be FREE!)

    blast it.... blast it mercilessly people...

    take every step to blast ANY non-open-source filtering system....

    OH, if anyone tries to tell me that squid is too hard to configure... Please let me smack you.. I never touched squid before in my life... last friday I was mandated to install a filtering system for our intranet (spawned by a user's need to view kiddie porn on company computers) I downloaded and installed squid today... it's working perfect and the porn filters that are freely available work just fine.. if they want to add other "naughty" sites, it takes exactly 30 seconds to add it to a flat-text file... even a MSCE coud do it.

    paying for any type of filtering system is pure stupidity and would only be reccomended by incompetent sysadmins/netadmins.
    • Seriously not trying to be a troll, but I hope someone turned the guy (or girl, you didn't say) in.

      That is a _real_ crime, there is a real victim, and who wants to work with someone like that?
    • [root@myhost /]# su MCSE
      Access denied. Stupidity not allowed on UNIX boxen.

      "add it to a flat-text file... even a MSCE coud do it."
      No they couldn't. An MCSE would be asking "What do I click on to open this 'flat-text file'???"

      "pure stupidity and would only be reccomended by incompetent sysadmins/netadmins"
      See above.

      - Jester
    • to borrow your friend's high speed internet connection and tunnel your surfing through OpenSSH to a proxy on the high-speed connection.

      This works *so* well that you can bypass pretty much any web proxy by going through open tcp ports.

      Actually, with OpenSSH access on a server somewhere you can set up an encrypted SOCKS proxy with:
      ssh -p ${openport} -C -D ${proxyport} -N ${ssh_server}

      The point your browser's proxy setting to localhost:${proxyport} and away you go.
  • by Col. Klink (retired) (11632) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:21PM (#3802856)
    Why are so many people suggesting that we help smartfilter by voting to remove sourceforge? This won't help discourage companies from using it.

    Instead, vote to make NYTIMES.COM and CNN.COM a "Criminal Skills" site. When the bosses start finding that smartfilter is effecting THEIR browsing, maybe they'll think twice before interfering in YOUR browsing.
    • Why do you think we have filtering software? To give slashdotters a reason to rant and rave and ultimately do nothing?

      There are legitamate uses of filtering software. And in some places (elementary schools, unsupervised children) where its a choice between filtered internet or no internet.

      Just like 12-year old Kenny can't go into Wal-Mart by himself and by the latest Eminem CD.

      And guess what? My internet isn't filtered and neither is yours (you are reading a slashdot forum after all), and I don't think anyone is interested in filtering you net usage anyways.

      So please, keep the desk-chair militias at bay.
      • > And in some places (elementary schools, unsupervised children) where its a choice between filtered internet or no internet.

        I have two more choices. You could *gasp*, supervise the children. Or, far better than ineffective black-list filters that let porn through while blocking Dick Armey's web site, you could provide a white-list filter that only allows pre-screened URLs through.

        Of course, when I was a kid, we could buy albums by the Dead Kennedys without our parents holding our hands.

        Getting pr0n was a lot tougher back then, but you can trust that I was able to find it despite the fact that I couldn't go into a store and buy it.

        > My internet isn't filtered and neither is yours

        Not yet at least...
      • There is no excuse for such filtering software in a corporate environment. It should be opposed there as a criminal restraint. Companies and sites that are excluded by this ridiculous piece of software should sue. Just having the users "vote" says that it is a debatable issue in the first place whether site X should be blocked and worse, it legitimizes such blockage in such environments in the first place.

        Keep asinine comments about "militia" to yourself when people are simply attempting to get some action out of the apathy that surronds us.
    • by cliveholloway (132299) on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:00PM (#3803533) Homepage Journal
      Nice idea - I just popped over and added http://www.microsoft.com under criminal skills.

      well? what are you waiting for? :)

      cLive ;-)

  • by silversurf (34707) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:22PM (#3802860)

    My company uses SurfControl's [surfcontrol.com] web filter product. In my experience of trying to administer the thing, is that it *usually* gets the catagory right. Supposedly these filter makers are verifying their databases, of which you pay through the nose to subscribe to. I've found about a 3-5% error rate, meaning they've miscatagorized that many of the total catagorized sites and this usually draws some level of corrective action to change the blockage.

    My hunch is that these guys (filter makers) wrote a search engine to do the catagorization and are just doing a dictionary score to wieght a page and make a decision on the results. So SourceForge probably scored high on the words "Download" and "MP3", or something like that, and since they both probably occur alot seeing as how there are alot of MP3 tools on that site for download it got catagorized as such. This doesn't make it right, but I'm willing to bet that no human said "hey let's block SourceForge because we don't like it and that'll piss everyone off".

    Most likely, the admins using the big-brother-ware in question can override the catagory and/or create an exception rule to allow people through to mis-blocked sites. But that depends on corporate policy. My company adopted a "if it's something you use for work, we'll unblock it right away" policy that works pretty well and they've followed through on it too. However, there is a possibility that someone would place implicit trust in the filter and not want to change anything they block. This would be bad (IMHO) because, just like a search engine or anything else, it's not perfect and these things are subject to human error in the end. I can tell you it's cut down the amount of pr0n bandwidth being used on my network, which is really nice because my downloads take way less time now.

    -s

  • did you try it through an http tunneling tool such as anonymizer.com??
    • SmartFilter Control List Restriction
      SmartFilter denied access to the URL http://util.anonymizer.com/cgi-bin/freeaction.cgi? go=go&url=http://www.metafilter.com.

      It matches the category Sexual content.

      Metafilter is a news/events blog.
  • Here [securecomputing.com] is where you can plug a URL in to see if it gets filtered or not. And indeed, sourceforge turns out to be a wicked MP3-peddler. Oddly enough, freshmeat is not in there yet.

    They also have another interesting and potentially more controversial filtering category: "Anonymizer". Try plugging http://www.anonymizer.com [anonymizer.com] into that box on the link above. Thin legal ice, if you ask me.

  • by wackybrit (321117) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:28PM (#3802912) Homepage Journal
    We're sorry to hear that you are upset at a new feature built into our latest version of SmartFilter. We do, however, appreciate all feedback, and this has certainly been useful in locating a bug within our software.

    It appears our QA department inadvertently made an error in the data files for SmartFilter. SourceForge is not, technically, banned as being an MP3 site, but is in a new category we added called 'Sites for Geeky Losers'. The pointer for this category has remained pointed at 'MP3 Sites' in our symbol table. We will be fixing this in our next release.

    Regards,
    Chuck "Jesus" Smythe
    SmartFilter Corp. -- Banning the sites that we don't like.
  • by pogle (71293) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:29PM (#3802920) Homepage
    I'm a practicing Baptist, and have some strong issues on some things. However, when my church was passing around a petition in support of mandating censorware on school computers, I spoke out against it. People looked at me like I had suddenly turned into a gorilla.

    Honestly, when public schools are underfunded, and hardworking teachers are underpaid and under-rewarded, should schools really be spending money on software that has been proven time and again to be ineffective? I haven't got this program to test, but how much of google's cache do they block, I wonder? And the Usenet archives? Between those, I imagine you could get anything you wanted anyways. My experience with the censorware at work has been it even blocks Slashdot on some days, but never anything else. It blocks a few online game sites, like Sony's Station, but not much else. I don't sit at work and browse porn, but I've loaded pages before that had plenty of it (people really need to identify whats in the links they email me) and the censorware didnt stop it at all.

    So I ask you: Censorware that arguably does as much harm as good? Or raises for teachers and administrative staff who could better nuture teens' growth away from questionable sites as it is? It doesn't take much for someone to walk thru a computer lab now and then, and anyone turning their monitor off quickly is rather obvious. Censorware is a leech-like entity, and rates only slightly above spam mailers in my opinion (only because they once had, deep down inside, an urge to do something good--or so I like to believe).

    But taking an active role in childrens education about such things, and occassionally checking in on them while they're surfing are far better alternatives than spending money thats going to limit so much of the good with only a little of the bad.
    • How about a spam-assasin-like system?

      Where if enough people use it, it gets better -- but never perfect mind you.

      Instead of some kind of automatic keyword system, schools and people go through the internet and start black-listing web sites. Of course all USENET and chat should be blocked for all but the oldest kids.

      And then when an inappropriate web site is found by anyone using the system, it gets black listed. Of course, black-listed sites should go into a queue to be verified.

      But thats basically it.
    • Censorware is also rather pathetic in the things it doesn't filter. While out school's new firewall/censorware has the wonderful ability to block all free web mail sites (except submail.net) and sites like peacefire, cexx.org AIM.com etc. For some reason, these people completely skipped over sites such as cyberarmy.com, and defcon.org. But the icing on the cake was when they missed thehun.com, kittykats.com and of course whitehouse.com Let's hear it for good web filters.
  • by Laplace (143876) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:40PM (#3802999)
    Your manager installs filtering software. You may think that he is an evil asshole who want to make a feeble attempt to censor and spy on you. Well, chances are you're wrong.

    Companies have all sorts of liability that they have to worry about. Management installs filtering software to cover their asses in sexual harassment situations, or in this case, intellectual property rights.

    That way when the RIAA comes banging on the doors of your company because the employees are downloading mp3s, they can innocently point to the filtering software then bring down the hammer of god on the people who circumvented the filtering software.

    Really, it's nothing personal and has very little to do with you.
  • by John Fulmer (5840) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:42PM (#3803012)
    We use SmartFilter at work. In fact, I'm the primary babysitter and representive of the Spanish Inquisition where it is concerned.

    Traditionally, I've been against filtering software, under the "if you treat people like children, they won't dissapoint you" philosophy. Unfortunately, in examining logs BEFORE we turned on the filtering, people were doing a great job of acting like children beforehand. Reporting on a days worth of logs on the 'sex' category generated a 150 page (small print) report, covering about 50 employees. These were NOT banner adds and spam mail. After the filter went on, it went to about 20 pages. After a well placed firing for an extreme example, it went down to about 3.

    There are a few things you have to consider when dealing with filtering software.

    1. The people categorizing URL's and sites are not much better than trained monkeys. Just because a site gets blocked isn't part of a conspiracy. Just a TMIF (trained monkey input failure) event. Usually they correct it within a week.

    (Side note: My favorite mis-categorization was when a dog breeding site was classified as a pornography site)

    2. Filters are unfortunately a necessary evil in this day and age, since companies (mostly larger ones) MUST show that they are activly preventing the development of a 'hostile environment' toward protected groups, such as women and minorities. Filters are an easy way of doing that.

    3. Filters by themselves are useless. Its amazing the number of things that they don't catch, and methods of by-passing them are out there. You have to keep the logs, and actually look at them. Filters are only alerts, not real preventitive measures.

    4. Also, you have to take care that someone in your company won't use them for 'evil', like some middle manager on a witch hunt. You have to have good, fair policies in place covering Internet usage and trusted individuals with good ethics to see those policies are being followed.

    In the last 18 months, my company has gone from having many gross violations of our Internet usage policies to very few violations. Most people can get to most the things they want to, and most, if not all of the 10K full time employees are pretty happy with the arrangement, or at least I haven't heard any complaints. For better or worse, the content filter and daily review of log reports is primarily responsible for that.

    • 1. The people categorizing URL's and sites are not much better than trained monkeys. Just because a site gets blocked isn't part of a conspiracy. Just a TMIF (trained monkey input failure) event. Usually they correct it within a week.

      I work for a company that delivers web based training & knowledge development. If one of our customers experiences an outage of a week because of some TIMF, the damage can not be repaired because of lost momentum. It could easily kill our company in a week.
  • by Torgo's Pizza (547926) on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:47PM (#3803035) Homepage Journal
    When I dialed extension 7114, I promptly got a person to talk about this. He stopped me at first saying he was 'just a guy in accounting'. He 'pretended' not to know what I was talking about. I let him have it with both barrels and told him that this policy was unacceptable. He still feigned ignorance claiming that I had the wrong extension and didn't know what I was talking about. Another lie.

    I then pointed out that this number was on the web page that had the explaination to why the site was being blocked and that it was posted on Slashdot. This corporate lackey kept up his charade and asked what Slashdot was. Seriously, what kind of fool does this person think I am? I said I wasn't going to put up with this type of corporate behavior and someone was going to set things right. He finally took my name and number down and said he'd get back to me. I hope that my actions will correct this situation.

    Hmmm... some security personnel has just shown up at my cubicle wanting to talk to me. They no doubt want to congratulate me on my pro-active response to the situation.

  • Once the software my company uses wouldn't allow access to my homepage hosted by adaptive.net. I emailed the dept and told them what the site was, and they emailed me back saying that it was blocked because the host hosts a lot of porn sites. He was able to change the settings so it allowed me access. No problem. Dont' forget, the admins are geeks just like us, and if they knew about it blocking sourceforge they would probably change it if they could.
  • I was asked to put in a filtering solution for a local company to stop porn usage (which was rampaging through this small local firm). So I put in a IPF/OpenBSD/Squid with transparent http filtering. Itis cheap and effective, but not fullproof, it required a lot of monitoring in the begining and making sure sites were what they were, adding and removing sites from the list I was able to get to start with.

    My advice, if you have a legitimate buissness reason for accessing SourceForge (which a lot of us do) then go to you IT department and get it removed, or added for you. Who knows maybe they had some problems with something on it, or more then likely they don't even know.
    • I'm not entirely sure, but I can't seem to think of any reason why someone would want to be looking at porn while they're at work ...

      What can be worse than sitting at your desk in your cubicle/office, with a boner and one of those "urges" to pull the "manual override", and not being able to do anything about it (without risking charges of indecency, at least)

      And what would happen if your coworker (or boss?!) came in while you were viewing porn, and asked you to get up and walk to a meeting or something, while you were still 'in the mood' ..

      I know most of us guys have good control over our erectile functions, but... come on, it's gotta be a *bit* uncomfortable to be in that state and to try and talk business or something..

      Maybe it's only me, but I just don't see the allure of viewing pr0n at work.

      anyway.. tiz just my little rant ..

  • ext. 7114? (Score:2, Funny)

    by psycht (233176)
    doesn't work.
  • Confirmation (Score:2, Redundant)

    by sohp (22984)
    Just a confirmation that sourceforge.net is blocked by SmartFilter. I'm seeing the rejection message sitting here at work. How silly of them.
  • Entire site down. (Score:3, Informative)

    by muon1183 (587316) <muon1183@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday July 01, 2002 @04:57PM (#3803096) Homepage
    Well, the /.ing is complete. We have knocked their entire site offline (not just the cgi server handling removal requests). I hope their software isn't dependent on being able to contact their site, otherwise they're going to have quite a problem. Hooray for the /. effect, it ought to get their attention.

    .sig, what's that?
  • I just tried to go to the Peacefire link shown in the story, and my company's SmartFilter told me it was blocked as "non-business related" (our block page doesn't show the category).


    So, SmartFilter is at least smart enough to block its critics...

  • I evaluated bunch of filter products a few years ago for a customer. Smartfilter nudged out SquidGuard because of the lower admin overhead.

    They run it in audit mode on a small amount of categories considered inappropriate. The user has a choice to continue to the site after receiving a warning, and must explain their choice if they appear in our weekly reports.

    Porn surfing at work went from about 1% of traffic to about 1,000 hits a week (counting ads as well).

    They have been catching big downloaders for about two years before that. It certainly keeps those MP3 and warez doodz at bay. I can't undestand the economics of downloading. To download a CD in Australia costs A$90 or more for most sites. If you can get away with someone else paying for it, then it is "free"

  • I administered a server running Smartfilter at my last job.

    The software is garbage. Really, it's a pain in the rear. Worse, huge numbers of sites are misclassified. Every time I updated the control list, half a dozen employees would call because some legit business site had been incorrectly classified as pr0n and they could no longer access it. A great deal at only ~$4k per year (blech).

    I tried to get them to use an open-source solution with no luck. If it didn't run under Windows and cost a fortune, they weren't interested. Pity.
  • There is one very interesting feature of SmartFilter that I find redeems many of the flaws in this particular "censorware".

    SmartFilter offers four possible results for each category when a user attempts to visit a site on the filter list:

    1. Permit. Access is allowed, but logged by user-IP, URL, and category (if any)
    2. Deny. Block access, return a HTML page explaining what was blocked, and why. Same logging.
    3. Delay.. Access is permitted, but page returns after a delay (default 30 seconds). Same logging.

      Here is the interesting one:

    4. Coach.. Access is blocked, but permit the user to 'click through' to the actual page. Either way, log access.
    With the 'Coach' option, nobody is actually blocked from accessing any web site. However, for each new access to any 'questionable' site (based on categories from the SmartFilter database), the user is presented with warning page, and the opportunity to choose to continue, with the knowledge that their actions are logged and may be reviewed.

    The default HTML pages that SmartFilter ships with are rather boring. I've made a few changes to the 'Coach' page HTML to make it very clear what is going on -- bright icons and background, big WARNING banner at the top, and the text of our official "Internet Access Policy" (just in case the user somehow missed it when they signed their employment paperwork).

    I'm hoping that 'coaching' will cut down on web access abuse and wasted time, while still allowing people to get to sites that they really need to access for their job, without getting people fired.

    And best of all, the warning page breaks the never-ending cycle launched by those damn porn-site popup ads!

  • How come they do not block Microsoft

    Given all the porn spam I get, why the hell is Hotmail not listed under the Sex category?
  • by alizard (107678) <alizard@ecis . c om> on Monday July 01, 2002 @05:45PM (#3803428) Homepage
    Your corporation doesn't consider you professional enough to be able to figure out for yourself which sites are appropriate for you to browse on company time.

    So they've delegated that task to a retarded electronic babysitter.

    Suck it up and be a good drone or update your resume and start looking for a better place to work.

    A competent professional doesn't need to have his/her time and efficiency wasted by this kind of crap. Competent management doesn't hire people who need electronic babysitters.

  • If the Sourceforge folks are getting blocked by CensorshipInc., do they have grounds for a lawsuit for things like restraint of trade or libel? It's one thing to block them for "hacker tools", a category which some lameoid censorware products do, but blocking them for MP3s sounds blatantly negligent at best.
  • by jesser (77961) on Monday July 01, 2002 @06:27PM (#3803720) Homepage Journal
    They're in the business of filtering smart, after all.
  • by BobGregg (89162) on Monday July 01, 2002 @07:12PM (#3804021) Homepage
    While doing research at my new job, I ran across the TinyCobol project on Source Forge. When I tried to click on the link (tinycobol.sourceforge.net), I got a filtering error back too. Category: Sex.

    I don't even want to know.

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