- Will I have to spend a lot of
time learning how to configure SurfFast?
SurfFast comes with an internal database of more
than 15,000 blacklisted domains, hosts and IP addresses
that are well known for hosting advertising banners,
popup windows and cookies for the sole purpose of
tracking browsing activity. As such, SurfFast will
be effective out of the box in eliminating a number
of objects from ever reaching your browser -- which
leads to improved performance. In addition, a number
of actions, such as blocking popups, filtering out
are enabled by default. This way, you won't
have to tinker with the configuration until you
feel comfortable with SurfFast and its feature set.
- I want to use SurfFast to
block potentially offensive content. How should I go about
First and foremost, you should be aware that filtering
applications in general are not perfect. Even with
the strongest rules in place, there will always be some
object or content that will bypass these rules.
Having said that, SurfFast does provide you with a number of
tools to implement strong filters:
- Blacklists - there are a number of comprehensive blacklists
publicly available on the Web; see
Both of these lists have entries separated into different
categories, so you can select what you want to filter. Once
you do so, you can use our online
application to convert the list into a format that
you can bulk load into SurfFast.
- PICS - the PICS
specification allows content providers to label their
content (i.e. the recommended age range for the site,
whether the content contains profanity or adult themes,
etc.) using one or more of the self-rating services
available; see RSACi
SafeSurf Rating Service
and ICRA. You can
configure SurfFast to block content from Web
sites that is more explicit than the level or rating
that you have enabled.
- Content Keywords - you can configure SurfFast to ignore
content that contains specific keywords. This is a brute
force approach and is far from perfect, since SurfFast
cannot determine the context in which the keywords
are used within the content.
Before you move on, please take a look at the answer
to next question.
- Does SurfFast always work exactly
as configured? Does it make mistakes?
SurfFast is designed to filter, or block, content based
on a number of filters, including by location, content
properties (i.e. content type, file size, extension),
PICS, specific keywords and more. Each of these filters can
consist of a number of specific rules, which tell the
filter exactly what to block. For example, you
can create a rule, via the content properties filter,
to block all resources that either have the .exe
extension (Microsoft Windows executables) or are larger
than 1M in size. The filters themselves, as far
as we have been able to test, work as advertised. It is,
however, possible that there are unknown bugs lurking
in the implementation code that could cause certain
content to bypass a specific filter.
The tricky part of configuring filters, then, lies
in defining a strong and effective rule set; this
is where "mistakes" could occur. And unless your
rules match the properties of the content to be
blocked 100% of the time,
certain content will occasionally slip through.
This could happen, for example, if the Web site provider
changes the content's properties, moves the content to a
different host name than the one you configured, or uses
other tricks to try to defeat filters. The only solution
to this problem is to periodically check your configuration
against a known list of content to see if everything works
- How do I enable popup
windows from my favorite Web site, while blocking all
SurfFast supports the concept of a whitelist; host or
domain names entered into the list are not filtered.
To add your favorite Web site to this list, follow
- Go to Preferences | Filtering | White List
- Select Enable filtering for all domains except for: radio button
- Enter the site name into the text field
- Click on the Add button
We recommend that you put Web sites that you visit often
on this whitelist, especially ones that offer free content
and services and who rely solely on advertising revenues.
- How can I configure SurfFast
to work with our current local Web proxy server?
Follow this procedure:
- Go to Preferences | Server | Cascade Proxy
- Click on the Use Cascading Proxy Server checkbox
- Enter the server address, port, and if necessary, the login
Now SurfFast will relay all requests through the specified
cascading proxy server.
- Can I block advertising
banner images based on their dimensions?
Yes. However, we don't recommend you do so, since you will
most likely block legitimate images. But, if you are interested,
here are some common dimensions from the
IAB Web site.
And this is how you would configure SurfFast:
- Go to Preferences | Filtering
- Make sure the Enable Filtering
checkbox is enabled
- Click on the Add button, which
will display the Add Filter Document
- Select Object Dimension from the
first pulldown list
- Select Image from the second
- Enter width into the first text field and height into
the second field
- Click on the Add button;
the dimesion should be displayed in the main filtering
- One of the sites that I visit
uses a cookie to keep track of my login, and enables it for two
weeks. Can SurfFast be configured to delete the cookie when I
exit from the browser?
Certainly! You can configure SurfFast to purge cookies
for a specific domain; delete cookies upon browser shutdown.
Simply follow these steps:
- Go to Preferences | Privacy
- Make sure the Enable Cookie Filtering
checkbox is enabled
- Click on the Add Domain button
- Enter the domain name for your site (i.e yahoo.com) and click OK
- When do you update your
blacklist and how do you distribute it to your users?
We typically update our blacklists once a month. SurfFast has
an auto-update mechanism, which will check for, and if available,
download the new version of the blacklist; the
Automatically Update Filter List
menu option in the Tools menu
has to be enabled.
We have been alerted that in certain configurations, the
auto-update mechanism crashes SurfFast. We are currently
investigating the issue and hope to have a patch soon.
- What are WebBugs and
WebBugs and Prefix URL are objects that advertisers place
within normal Web pages to track your browsing activity.
Web Bugs are small, typically invisible, images, while
Prefix URLs track redirection activity. Here is an
example of a Prefix URL:
When you click on this link, the r
application notes that you are going to the Yahoo Web site
and then redirects you there. SurfFast will simply change this link
so that any tracking is eliminated.
- Can I use SurfFast to masquerade
my browser as Internet Explorer on Windows?
Unfortunately, for us Mac users, more and more content providers
are designing their applications for Microsoft Windows and Internet
Explorer. Have you experienced the "sorry, your browser is not
supported" error mesage? We should definitely make our collective
voices heard, by asking the developer to support the Mac platform.
In reality, however, a majority (not all!) of these sites will
render fine when viewed with Safari, Mozilla or any of the other
browsers on a Mac. And so, to stop the remote Web site from denying
the request based on the browser name, you can configure SurfFast
to identify itself as another browser; here is a list of
different browser identifications:
- Go to Preferences | Server | HTTP
- In the User Agent pane, make
sure that the Custom option
- Enter the browser's identity in the text box
That's all there is to it!
- How do I prevent other users
from changing my SurfFast configuration?
Follow this procedure:
- Select Set Configuration Password
from the Tools menu
- Enter the current password; the password is
admin by default
- Enter your new password and confirm it
- Select Lock Configuration from the
Edit menu. The
Preferences menu option will now be disabled
- When you want to modify your configuration, select
Unlock Configuration from the
Edit menu and you will be able
to access the Preferences again