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Content filtering

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The term content filtering refers to a technology that helps prevent, and build resistance, to attacks. These attacks usually come in the form of spam or any other web content that could include malicious files.

The idea of content filtering is the most widely used method of filtering spam. In 2007, corporate losses resulting from spam were estimated to be around $198 billion. This staggering sum is evidence that companies need to become more watchful and vigilant when dealing with unwanted email or web content. There are many hackers that try to get past anti-virus protection either for money or sometimes just for fun.

It has become very common for email hosts, such as Gmail or Yahoo!Mail to automatically create spam folders. By design, the content filters of these particular hosts react to specific information that is contained in the subject or body of the email. Though some type of spam might be able to fool or slip past the filter, this type of surveillance has enhanced and improved the world of email considerably.

If a company has its own email server and system, it becomes even more important to have the right type of content filtering software. If an employee were to accidentally open a file that contains a malicious code or virus that attacks the system, the repercussions could be disastrous. Depending on the type of virus, the company could stand to lose a lot of important and valuable information. Many organizations have succumbed to these types of attacks and experienced extreme backlash. Imagine thousands of records stolen from a university or hospital. Both of these scenarios have played out many times due to a lack of content filtering software. Even the government is not beyond the reach of attacks from computer viruses.
On May 21, 2009, the FBI was was struck by a virus, causing them to shut down their system.

The way that content filtering works is dependent on the type of filtering software that is being used. However, most filters block content in the following ways:

            -by checking for unwanted URLs
-by analyzing the email headers

            -by sorting out unwanted emails from mailing lists

            -by checking for certain phrases in the email content

            -by filtering based certain expressions (rules)

            -by HTML anomalies

            -by using Bayesian spam filtering

The method of using Bayesian spam filtering is considered the most effective ways of filtering spam emails. The way this method works is a type of checks-and-balances system where the content of the email is checked for repetition and redundancy. Certain words are found more often in spam than others and these emails will be sorted out accordingly.

Filtering content is not only important for businesses but also for individuals. Besides protecting your personal computer from viruses, content filters can also block access to specific websites. This is useful if you wish to protect your children from predators or unwanted web content. This type of content filtering has become more common today due to the popularity of social networking sites like MySpace. Parents can block access to content that they deem inappropriate for their children by typing in certain key words. For more information on parental control filters please click here.