Protecting children from potential harm on the Internet

Johannesburg, 16 Mar 2000
Read time 2min 20sec

Educational establishments have a responsibility to protect young students from the Internet, which contains a horrifying 40-50 per cent pornographic material. What`s more, paedophiles are using the worldwide web to gain introductions to vulnerable young pupils.

Content security specialist, AVS, believes it has the answer in Cyber Sentinel, a CD-ROM-based software package which provides an effective means of preventing school children from accessing pornographic and other inappropriate content on the Internet.

"The application not only blocks obvious soft and hard porn sites, but also monitors chat room email conversations for tell-tale signs such as questions about whether the student is home alone, the home address, telephone number and even questions about virginity," explains AVS MD, Clint Carrick.

Unlike most parental blocking systems, Cyber Sentinel is content-driven rather than address-driven, and is the only product of its kind listed on Microsoft`s SAFEKIDS web site. Cyber Sentinel actually pre-reads the site the child is attempting to load, and prevents access of that site if it contains subject matter that has been prohibited by parents or teachers.

The blocking dictionary can be tailored by parents or teachers, enabling them to prevent Internet conversations covering specific subjects and key words. The product could, for example, monitor for any mention of phrases such as "What are you wearing?", or "Where do you live?" and help prevent the children transmitting such details as addresses or telephone numbers.

This enables parents and teachers to monitor and control the content of the children`s email conversations with external users on the net, and help guard against predators seeking to establish inappropriate relations with the child. The product can run in a number of modes, including stealth mode, which enables the parents to secretly monitor the child`s use of the Internet.

Cyber Sentinel has its origins in America, and was created by parents Donna and John Bastian, who became concerned about the potential for exploitation of modern technology by predatory groups.

"Before launching this product, we spent time with an FBI agent who posed as a 14-year-old student and snared a paedophile who travelled from New Hampshire to Chicago to meet the `child`," relates Bastian. "The criminal was found to have 1500 pornographic child images in his possession and confessed to having had illegal sexual relations with 75 under-age students."

Carrick believes such incidents are only the tip of the iceberg and accounts for the product`s excellent sales figures.


AVS has over 10 years` experience in the area of content security. It has partnered with the world`s leading content security vendors making AVS the content security specialists in southern Africa.

Its primary strength lies in its 24x7 local telephonic and on-site support.

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