Secure Home Networking

Making your home network more kid-friendly

The toughest part of securing a home network is that almost off of our networks are setup differently so there is rarely a "one size fits all" solution.  With that said, there are some tools that can help.  For these purposes we will try to handle this in two ways:

  1. Securing the whole home network
  2. Securing individual devices

Securing the whole home network

When securing the whole home network, there are a couple of different ways to look at solving the problem.  "The problem" here is primarily limiting access to unfavorable sites on the internet.  This isn't always 100% effective since the internet is a constantly shifting thing, but it works very well for the 99%.  We will look at accomplishing this in two ways:

Adjusting devices you already have in your home

Many of us on the Cape get our internet access from Comcast.  They offer a couple of way to secure your home network using the devices they provide with you sign up for service.  This includes the ability to block certain site or keywords that you would prefer devices not have access to on your network.  More information about this can be found at the links below or by contacting Comcast support (https://www.xfinity.com/support/).

Another way to limit access to devices is through DNS.  DNS, the Domain Name Service, is the tool that the internet uses to send you to the right website when you type in an address in your browser.  There are lots of DNS directories out there for you to use.  Right now you are probably using the one Comcast provides, assuming you are on Comcast's network, but you aren't required to use theirs.  One alternative is OpenDNS.  They provide the same directory service as Comcast, but through their Family Shield product they also provide built-in protection for malicious phishing & malware domains and parental controls that protect every device in your home.  The best part is that it is free and not terribly difficult  to setup.  More information about OpenDNS can be found here.

Adding extra security devices to the home

 Another way to limit access and monitor your child's access is through a security device that you add to you current network. One example of that is Circle. They provide a device that limits access to pages and certain content, but also have an app that allows you to see what sites your child visits.

Securing individual devices

Instead of adding security to your networking tools you could also choose to manage the individual computer, phone, or tablet that your child uses to help limit access to the internet.  Here are some links to the major manufacturers about how to secure their devices and add parental controls:

Windows

Apple laptops/desktops

Apple phones/tablets

Android

Bark.us for Schools

Our District uses Bark for Schools to help us monitor school-issued accounts and devices for signs of digital dangers. When potential issues like cyberbullying, suicidal ideation, and threats of violence arise, Bark sends us a notification. Now that these devices are at home more than the classroom we wanted to pass along the opportunity for parents and guardians to receive these alerts as well. This is totally optional and the service is offered at no charge.  More information about Bark can be found here:

Sandwich Announcement of Bark

Bark.us Website

Bark for Schools is free for both our school and for you. For even greater coverage, you can also sign up for Bark for Families, which monitors texts, chat, email, YouTube, and 30+ social media platforms for potential safety concerns. We have secured a 20% discount for Bark for Families — you'll only have to pay $7.20 per month to cover an unlimited number of accounts, devices, and children.

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