Home Products SurfFast FAQ Configuration


  1. 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 WebBugs, and disabling specific JavaScript code 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.

  2. I want to use SurfFast to block potentially offensive content. How should I go about doing this?

    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 squidGuard and AGNIS. 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 (now ICRA), 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.

  3. 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 as expected.

  4. How do I enable popup windows from my favorite Web site, while blocking all others?

    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 these steps:

    • 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.

  5. 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 and password.

    Now SurfFast will relay all requests through the specified cascading proxy server.

  6. 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 Property window
    • Select Object Dimension from the first pulldown list
    • Select Image from the second pulldown list
    • 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 window.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. What are WebBugs and Prefix URL?

    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 to read:


    so that any tracking is eliminated.

  10. 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 is enabled
    • Enter the browser's identity in the text box

    That's all there is to it!

  11. 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

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