Friday, March 03, 2006

On Limitations of Web Content Filtering (BoingBoing banned in UAE, Qatar, elsewhere)

OMG, that is one of the worst things that a security company might do (apart from letting an attack through, of course ...)

BoingBoing banned in UAE, Qatar, elsewhere: "At fault in most of these cases is a US-based censorware company called Secure Computing, which makes a web-rating product called SmartFilter. But SmartFilter isn't very smart. Secure Computing classifies any site with any nudity -- even Michaelangelo's David appearing on a single page out of thousands -- as a 'nudity' site, which means that customers who block 'nudity' can't get through. "

"Why is SmartFilter content to deliver a product with a 99.5 percent false-positive rate? Because it has promised its customers that it will stop their users from seeing nudity (fat chance -- it's a dead certainty that Smart Filter has failed to class innumerable sites containing nudity), and punishing 24,875 nudity-free posts to get at 125 that contain mild or "art" nudity is fine by them."

Technically, that is not exactly a "false-positive rate", but rather a major product design flaw mixed with some management decision stupidity... BoingBoing even started a resource guide on that very subject.

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Dr Anton Chuvakin