Date of Award
Master of Science (Computer Science)
School of Science
Associate Professor Mike Johnstone
Associate Professor Paul Haskell-Dowland
Dr Patryk Szewczyk
Content filters are used to restrict to restrict minors from accessing to online content deemed inappropriate. While much research and evaluation has been done on the efficiency of content filters, there is little in the way of empirical research as to their efficacy. The accessing of inappropriate material by minors, and the role content filtering systems can play in preventing the accessing of inappropriate material, is largely assumed with little or no evidence. This thesis investigates if a content filter implemented with the stated aim of restricting specific Internet content from high school students achieved the goal of stopping students from accessing the identified material. The case is of a high school in Western Australia where the logs of a proxy content filter that included all Internet traffic requested by students were examined to determine the efficacy of the content filter. Using text extraction and pattern matching techniques to look for evidence of access to restricted content within this study, the results demonstrate that the belief that content filtering systems reliably prevent access to restricted content is misplaced. in this study there is direct evidence of circumvention of the content filter. This is single case study in one school and as such, the results are not generalisable to all schools or even through subsequent systems that replaced the content filter examined in this study, but it does raise the issue of the ability of these content filter systems to restrict content from high school students. Further studies across multiple schools and more complex circumvention methods would be required to identify if circumvention of content filters is a widespread issue.
Turner, B. R. (2021). An investigation into the efficacy of URL content filtering systems. https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/2409