A New Way to keep Pornography out of your Home

Keep Pornography out of your home

Like many of you, I am intensely concerned to keep all forms of pornography out of my home. Over the years, I have repeatedly witnessed the destructive force of pornography in the lives of men, marriages, kids, and the victims of sex industries.

We have four kids that range in age from 8 years old to 14 years old. Between the 6 of us, we have a dozen different devices connected to the web in our home. For years, we have used software filters or accountability software to screen out porn. When we recently learned about a new device that promises to keep Internet Porn out of our house, we were excited to give it a try. The device is a router manufactured by Pandora’s Hope. The company promises that its router is easy to set up, works on computers and mobile devices, stops pornography at the “Gateway”, and causes no noticeable loss of browser speed. Today, I plugged in my new Pandora’s Hope Router for the first time. Here is my review:

Setup:

The Pandora’s Hope router was a breeze to set up. I plugged it into my cable modem and one minute later, the lights on the front turned green indicating that it was ready to go. Next, I went to wi-fi on my computer and clicked on the wi-fi network called “Pandora’s Hope Wizard.” It took about 2 minutes after this to configure a username, and password and setup was complete. The final step was clicking on the wi-fi Network “Pandora’s Hope”, entering my password, and boom goes the dynamite, I was set up in less than 5 minutes. Setup Grade: A

Browsing:

After connecting to the Pandora’s Hope router I clicked through a few Web Sites: Yahoo, Huffington Post, etc and noticed a few ads that had been blocked. Questionable advertisements were replaced with the Pandora’s Hope logo. Other than this, the browsing experience felt pretty much the same as before. Browsing Grade: A

Speed:

With all of our devices, we subscribe to the Cable Company’s fastest wi-fi plan. My greatest concern in connecting this new router was that speed may slow down. To check this, I ran Speed tests on three different sites and my wi-fi speed was just as fast with the Pandora’s Hope router as before. It will take some time to tell if browsing speed is as fast as before, but so far I have seen no notable loss in speed with the Pandora’s Hope router. Speed Grade: A

Pandora's Hope Router

Devices:

So far I have connected 2 computers, 2 phones, 1 iPad and 1 Apple TV. All were super easy to connect, and Duck Dynasty is currently playing through the Apple TV. Works on Multiple Devices Grade: A

Minecraft:

Both of my sons play Minecraft. Much to their dismay, this has been a bit of a problem since hooking up this new router. Though they are still able to play we have not yet figured out how to make some elements of the game work. My sons will be working on this over the weekend. Minecraft Grade: C (So far)

Verdict:

On day one of using the Pandora’s Hope router, I have found this router to be an intriguing option for anyone looking to keep pornography out of your home!

What would you add to this? Comment and continue the conversation!

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Posted by Brian Howard

My focus is to help YOU move forward one step at a time. I write about church excellence, personal productivity, and family leadership. I coach leaders, start churches, and help organizations break growth barriers. My goal is to draw on this experience to help YOU move forward in life, leadership, and productivity.

  1. Thanks Brian. This is a huge concern of mine as well. How does it work with a data plan on an iPhone if you’re not using it wirelessly?
    Mike

    Reply

    1. Mike,
      My understanding is that this works only when hooked up to wifi in your home. It would not screen out things when you are away from your home and connected via a mobile data plan. Though this Router is not THE silver bullet it is A bullet. (Phrase Borrowed from my friend Scott Thomas) What this will do is be at least one major line of defense against any of your kids inadvertently or purposefully downloading Internet Porn. It is one of several strategies that could be helpful in this issue.

      Reply

  2. I liked your review. I currently have a Pandora’s Hope pro. I’m curious what things you’ve noticed don’t work in minecraft? I haven’t heard any complaints from my kids about minecraft. Not sure if they’re just accepting of it or haven’t noticed it.
    Mike Scott, the PH router will only work on filtering devices that go through the home internet. If a device such as an iPhone use their own data off their own data plan, the Pandora’s Hope router will never see or filter that traffic.

    Reply

    1. Thaddeus,
      My older son is involved at the Programming level of Minecraft and has been complaining since yesterday that there are some tools that he can’t get to. We have not yet tried whitelisting these but will be working on it over the weekend. Basic Minecraft seemingly still works but some of the Programming tools seem to be blocked. This is all still new though as we just plugged in yesterday afternoon. We are optimistic that the problem is solvable.

      Reply

  3. Hey Brian,
    Excellent review! We are so glad that Pandora’s Hope is working well for your family. Though we are of course not so enthused about your Minecraft troubles! I have seen issues with hosting Minecraft servers before (easily fixed), but this is the first I’ve heard about these programming tools. If you wouldn’t mind sending over some information on these tools, I’d love to sit down and find a solution for you.

    Also, thank you both Brian and Thaddeus for answering Mike’s question. You were spot on! Pandora’s Hope can only protect the devices that are connected to it. It is analogous to a seat belt: It can only save you if you “wear” it.

    Mike, I would be glad to discuss what Pandora’s Hope can do for you in person, if you are interested. Please feel free to contact me directly at: 1-520-445-4673. Our contact page can also be found here: http://pandorashope.com/home/contactus

    Thank you!

    -Ryan
    Pandora’s Hope Support

    Reply

  4. Thanks Brian. Passing this onto my computer guy, Tim. 🙂

    Reply

  5. Not bad, but unnecessary. Your current router can do the same thing for free with opendns. Just create an account and point your router to their dns servers.
    http://www.opendns.com/home-solutions/parental-controls/

    Reply

    1. I have personal experience with what Daniel describes. I used OpenDNS before getting my Pandora’s Hope router. My boys know how to get around a DNS based filter. They know of many wide open DNS servers. If you don’t believe yours do, you are probably not correct.
      Also, you really can’t get the full functionality of PH from OpenDNS. To get all the functionality of PH you really need to have OpenDNS plus Dan’s Guardian. Combine those two and you may have most of the functionality of PH.
      In the past, I also used “Packet Protector” on my router. This gave me all of the functionality that I currently get from my Pandora’s Hope router. The problem with that solution was that it slowed down my internet browsing significantly. It slowed it down so bad that my wife was complaining about it being too slow. That was unacceptable.
      Notice that even with OpenDNS to get all the configurable options will cost you $19.95 per year.
      I decided to use Pandora’s Hope because I loved the functionality that I got with Packet Protector, but hated the slow down that it caused. I get all of that functionality from Pandora’s Hope without me having to constantly download new signatures and do all the other configuring that I had to do with Packet Protector.
      Some of the things that the free OpenDNS couldn’t do for me include:
      1 – Allow a device with a specific MAC address to bypass all controls. I wanted this for my ROKU device.
      2 – Have specific time frames that some devices can access the internet. I don’t want my kids to access the internet after 10PM.
      3 – Have a simple interface that my non-technical wife can use to easily bypass the blocking of a image.
      With my Pandora’s Hope router, I can do all of these things.

      Reply

    2. Daniel, I have had OpenDNS, but it does not block Google porn IMAGES. It blocks websites, but not images.

      Reply

      1. What Steve says is true.

        Reply

  6. Hi Brian,

    Among all the things you reviewed it for, you haven’t at all commented on its ability, or otherwise, to do what it says on the tin: “keep pornography out of your home”. Given that there’s no such thing as a magic 100% accurate pornography detector, what technology is it using? Is it a blacklist? If so, who maintains it? How often is it updated? What are their criteria for putting things on it? Is the list created manually or by automated processes? Can site owners appeal if they feel they’ve been unreasonably added? Do you have the ability to override it if it overblocks something? (My church website was blocked by the internet filtering of my mobile phone provider for quite a while; getting off their blocklist required the intervention of a digital rights organisation.)

    All of the above are questions I would want to ask before buying such a thing.

    Almost all of the good things you said about it would be true if the router did no blocking whatsoever (or if it just blocked a list of ad servers)! If that’s all that’s required, then I have some “elephant repellent” to sell you… works a treat! No elephants here! 😉

    Gerv

    Reply

    1. Gerv,

      Most of this information is available on the Pandora’s Hope website. (pandorashope.com) I chose to write a concise review and point people back to the website to answer many of these questions. I also made an intentional decision (in discussion with my wife) to not purposely search for pornography in order to test the “effectiveness” of the router. This would seem to me to be a foolish thing for any thinking man to do. I did make clear in another comment that a router like this is only part of an overall pornography prevention strategy. I suspect that I have provided enough information for a person to seek the rest of these answers out. Thanks for your feedback!

      Reply

      1. I didn’t suggest you purposefully search for pornography 🙂 The answers to my questions could be found without doing so, if the company were forthcoming with the information.

        Their website was down when I posted my original comment, so I was unable to find any answers on it at all. It’s now back up, but it seems that the information there is very sparse. The most info is in their FAQ:

        “The router works on text-based algorithms to detect inappropriate pages. Each page and its URL are dynamically registered against known words and phrases that can trigger the blocking mechanism. There are actually several layers of filtering going on as each page is loaded. On top of that, each page is logged for a complete history. Images and Videos are screened in the same way, with their URLs and title checked against our list of keywords and phrases. In addition to the automatic filtering components, there are also user-defined filters as well. Users have access to a white, grey, and black list. You can even edit a special keyword list, that defines what the filter screens for!”

        So, which of my questions are answered?

        * what technology is it using? — ANSWERED

        * Is it a blacklist? — Yes – not of URLs, but of words and phrases

        * If so, who maintains it? — UNANSWERED

        * How often is it updated? — UNANSWERED, except for “constantly and seamlessly” in the PR

        * What are their criteria for putting things on it? — UNANSWERED

        * Is the list created manually or by automated processes? — UNANSWERED

        * Can site owners appeal if they feel they’ve been unreasonably added? — No, because it’s not a URL-based blacklist. Site owners are helpless – all they can do is randomly change their content to try and guess what triggered the filter.

        * Do you have the ability to override it if it overblocks something? — YES

        Word or phrase blacklisting is susceptible to many false positives (the so-called “Scunthorpe problem”, although filters have got a little smarter since then). “He beat his breast in agony” – epic poetry, filtered. “Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy the dog” – the Famous Five, filtered. And so on. It’s also susceptible to false negatives, because there’s no way you can blacklist all the possible euphemisms. Language just doesn’t work that way.

        It also won’t do anything about the porn video whose filename is “cutecats.mpg”. It has no insight into video at all.

        On the positive side, you do have more control over the blocking than on many systems. And the router is the correct place to do home internet filtering – there are too many clients to install software on them all, and ISP-based solutions are remote, uncontrollable, and susceptible to repurposing by governments.

        So, to make some constructive suggestions to those reading these comments who are looking for a filtering solution:

        a) the perfect solution doesn’t exist; nothing replaces proper supervision

        b) OpenDNS has a community-curated URL blocklist (see http://community.opendns.com/domaintagging/), which is probably the least bad solution (Although their “set it and forget it” slogan is rather worrying). A community-transparent URL-based blocklist probably has much less bad false positive and false negative characteristics than a word-based filter.

        Gerv

        Reply

        1. Gerv, thanks for this additional and helpful information!

          Reply

      2. Brian,
        First-time poster here. I appreciate your taking the time and effort to review this new tool in the battle against porn. However, I do have to agree with Gerv Markham here – at this point, I don’t see how anyone can have any assurance that the router actually blocks pornography, since you didn’t test that functionality. Thus, your verdict as currently written (“I recommend this to anyone looking to keep pornography out of your home!”) is misleading – so far you’ve merely reviewed it as a selectively-ad-blocking router, not a porn-blocker.

        I do empathize with and understand your desire not to accidentally expose yourself to porn by testing the device in that manner, and I appreciate your bringing this potentially excellent tool to the attention of many people… But, at the same time, if you don’t trust the device to block obvious porn content (a la the major well-known porn sites), then why are you using it at all, much less recommending it to others?

        If you’d like to test the efficacy of the router’s porn-blocking while also taking reasonable steps to protect your eyes and mind, perhaps you could use a browser that allows you to disable the display of images completely (such as Firefox) – this would allow you to see if porn websites are blocked or not, and would potentially expose you only to text if a page is allowed through. If you decide to do this, I recommend using browser “add-ons” such as Flash-block and No-Script that will temporally disable video and Flash playback.

        Thanks for bringing this device to our attention – I’m planning to look into it further, but unless it’s more sophisticated than their website description sounds, will probably go with a professionally managed (and more expensive 🙁 ) filtering web proxy appliance.

        Reply

        1. Nate,

          Thanks for your comment! I do think that you make some good points. The efficacy of the router is difficult to test for anyone committed to complete avoidance of what it attempts to screen out. I have not in any way attempted to be “misleading” but have stated exactly what my opinion of the device is – a helpful tool in keeping pornography out of your home. I did not ever say that I “don’t trust the device to block well know porn sites.” I have made a commitment for over 20 years to not engage with or even know of “well known porn sites” and I am not interested in learning about them now. I have also stated in other comments that I do not think that this tool is THE silver bullet but that it is A bullet. It is nearly impossible to stop a person who wants to see pornography from seeing it. I think the primary value of a router like this is in keeping children from inadvertently seeing pornography. My review was not intended to be exhaustive but an opportunity to expose my readers to a device that might be helpful to you. This comment stream has been even more helpful as it has taken my review to a new level! I also changed my final statement on the post to more accurately reflect my view after reading your comment. If you are a man with children old enough to be on the web, this router is an intriguing option as part of an overall strategy to keep porn out of your home. If you find something better, than use it!

          Reply

          1. Just wanted to add to your comment Brian (Thanks BTW for doing a review!)

            As a Senior Network Engineer for one of the largest Host providers in the world let me just say that the tech required for full control (without severely hampering the end user’s functionality and/or speed) is not something the average family has the resources for/access too. To even get close to a serious attempt at a centralized control in an inline device like PH, we would be talking a standalone appliance capable of layer 7 packet inspection, SSL Interception, “Smart” imagine recognition algorithms, Etc. Even tech like this would likely be unable to handle various tunneling protocols (Such as a VPN). Brian hit it on the head when he said:

            “It is nearly impossible to stop a person who wants to see pornography from seeing it. I think the primary value of a router like this is in keeping children from inadvertently seeing pornography.”

            I installed PH in my home not because I thought it could make Pornography inaccessible from my home network, but because I wanted a solid option to stop someone from “stumbling” onto pornography while in my home. Any good security implementation has multiple layers, PH is just another layer. Centralized filtering, endpoint control’s, and most importantly, Education.

    2. Recently I asked one of the owners of Pandora’s Hope about the differences between their routers and other services like OpenDNS…here’s what they said:

      “While Pandora’s Hope does use DNS for some aspects of the filtering service, most of what we do utilizes keywords and phrases. This allows us to dynamically filter webpages, blocking only the inappropriate material. Our system will still block the entire web page if necessary, but often there is only one or two offending images or videos that need to be censored. The rest of the legitimate content on that webpage would then be available to you. This stands in contrast to many other products that use DNS only, which can only deny or allow a webpage. It is a “all or nothing” situation with most of those products. “

      Reply

  7. Like Daniel, we I have been using OpenDNS at home, no additional hardware or fees needed. It has worked really well, and gives you granular control over what to block. Many large companies are using OpenDNS on their networks as well – they are a solid company.

    Reply

  8. […] it does have a yearly fee of $20. Of course, 20 bucks today isn’t what it used to be. Here is a review of the device.  If you have a better option, I’d love to know about […]

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  9. Not seen this router marketed in the UK – may not be compatible with our systems.

    UK is moving toward a law where ISPs will block porn by default, and if any subscriber wants to view porn, then he (or she) will have to actively opt in. I think it may prove to be quite an effective tool.

    Reply

    1. Kenneth: I think you are unwise to support government-controlled filtering of the Internet (which is what that proposal amounts to). See http://www.gerv.net/writings/christians-and-web-blocking/ for an explanation as to why.

      Reply

      1. Had never really thought about it, Gerv, until I read your article. Certainly gave food for thought. I guess the days of naively imagining that if you had nothing to hide, you had nothing to fear (from government) are coming to an end.

        PS – share your love for Indelible Grace Music – been listening to them for years. Purchased first 6 albums on my emusic account, and the rest as direct downloads (or from Bandcamp) Love the Roots and Wings DVD!

        Reply

  10. Does this router filter out Google Plus images? If it utilizes keywords and phrases I would imagine not. If so, not as helpful as needed.

    Reply

  11. […] Howard reviews a new router, Pandora’s Hope, that block pornography from your computer and […]

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  12. […] For those of you who are looking for a good way to keep porn out of your house, you should definitely check this out! Whether you are a parent trying to protect your kids, in need of protecting yourself, or both, this is a very good option for keeping the evils of porn out of your home. Check it out here: http://brianhoward.com/a-new-way-to-keep-pornography-out-of-your-home/ […]

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  13. […] Brian Howard has posted a review of Pandora’s Hope, a new router built to stop pornography at the Internet gateway. Looks like an intriguing possibility. […]

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  14. These are Buffalo AirStation wireless routers with (apparently) customized firmware. The non-Pandora versions are $49 (N300 – “Family”) and $69 (N600 – “Pro”) on Amazon. The Pandora prices are $99 and $159 respectively. That’s quite a mark up, especially since you only get 6 months of the content filtering subscription included. After that you have to pay $20 annually.

    From the screenshots I’ve seen the custom firmware allows very granular control over the content filtering settings, but it appears to be at the expense of dumbing down the rest of the settings options. Both of these routers from Buffalo can run DD-WRT, an open-sourced firmware that is highly configurable. You sacrifice this configurability somewhat from what I can tell.

    Additionally, there are some custom compiles of DD-WRT with DansGuardian (open-source content filtering) built in that provide a very good level of content filtering. However, most people report that this slows down your browsing somewhat, even on routers with 128MB of RAM, like the Pandora’s Hope “Pro” model. Therefore I’m hesitant to believe the claims from PH that browsing isn’t slowed down, especially on their 64MB “Family” model.

    Reply

  15. […] Hope – $159, a fast, filtering router to replace your existing one; easy setup; internet access can be scheduled for each device.  $20/yr subscription required after 6 […]

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  16. […] I didn’t know this existed. With a 7 year old son who is using the computer more and more I am very interested in how this works. If you are a nerd, please let us in on what you know about this. This acts more as a gatekeeper for the home rather than a nanny that watches over everything you do. Protection against pornography from the source. […]

    Reply

  17. […] few months back I wrote a post entitled, A New Way to Keep Pornography Out of Your Home, where I reviewed a Router from Pandora’s Hope. The post was quite popular and continues to be […]

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  18. Any news on the minecraft issues yet?

    Reply

  19. […] previously did a more extensive review of the Pandora’s Hope router. The Company promises that its  router is easy to set up, works […]

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  20. hack software download

    A New Way to keep Pornography out of your Home – Brian Howard

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  21. Does it really work? Except this, I know another software called Aobo Filter for PC http://goo.gl/oxpQtt which can also be used to block porn and certain unwanted websites. You just need to check check improper web sites in the recorded logs and add them to blacklist.

    Reply

  22. I have had Pandora’s Hope for over a year now and it has been only problems. It is very unreliable eventually slowing to a crawl to the point it won’t allow any traffic. I would HIGHLY recommend finding a different solution than Pandora’s Hope. I have worked with their support for months and they are yet to resolve the issues.

    Reply

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