Cloud-based managed firewall protects children using IBM Analytics

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Cloud-Nanny managed firewallMany parents wouldn’t dream of letting their young children use an internet-connected device without some type of filter. It’s important to protect young web searchers from arriving at undesirable websites. An innocent enough search term could be a double entendre, leading impressionable minds to things better left unseen.

One approach for parents is to install software that restricts content on devices or a home router. Typically, if they’re not using a general rating scheme by age, parents need to know the sites they want to block ahead of time and set up their own block lists. This is time consuming, and chances are they’re going to miss something.

A firewall as a service for home use

ChildRouter from Cloud-Nanny offers an automated and intelligent way to filter web content with a  firewall-as-a-service (FaaS) solution. Parents choose which categories of sites they will allow their kids to see, and Cloud-Nanny handles almost everything else. The solution decides whether to allow or block web requests without noticeable effect on the user’s browsing experience. Using IBM dashDB, the processing check makes a request in Cloud-Nanny’s database and returns a decision is less than 40 microseconds.

ChildRouter uses machine learning algorithms running in IBM Analytics for Apache Spark together with AlchemyAPI to classify and categorize content in nearly real time. If the system is unsure about a site, it checks with the parents. Using that input, the model learns and gets better at classifying that type of site in the future.

How it works

The ChildRouter is a hardware appliance and a software appliance in one. This is one differentiator from other solutions, which reside in the browser. ChildRouter works independently of the operating system or browser.

Cloud-Nanny app

Through a computer interface, parents can assign a device to a specific child. This means they can switch devices very easily within the family. For example, if your younger child wants to watch a movie on an adult’s iPad, parents can go to the ChildRouter interface on the iPad, set it under the younger child’s account and all the secure settings are applied on that device. Parents can do this with a PlayStation, Xbox, Wii or any other internet-connected device. It is much like the kind of managed firewall that a company would have, but more affordable.

ChildRouter users’ security policies follow them wherever they take their devices because the managed firewall is in the cloud.

The road ahead

ChildRouter is just the tip of the iceberg. Cloud-Nanny’s FaaS solution has applications outside the home because it can also block dangerous software such as malware, adware and viruses. Phishing attempts don’t work; the system recognizes the domain name is not correlated with the IP address of the website and doesn’t let it pass.

Cloud-Nanny envisions schools and public WiFi using ChildRouter. For example, coffee shops that offer free WiFi can guarantee that there will be no risk to the user. Even Internet of Things (IoT) devices can be monitored for unwanted behavior.

Cloud-Nanny developed ChildRouter and got the solution up and running in less than one year with IBM Cloud Platform. Find out more about how it came together.

Read about other IBM clients who are poised for success using the IBM Cloud as their foundation here.

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It’s great that you can create a user profile that’s transferable from device to device. I can see how this would be useful in a school system as well, where some content is okay for older kids, but not younger.

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