Internet Rimon – First Impressions

Last night I came home to a house without Internet. It is my fault really- I hadn’t found time to switch to a new provider and my old job finally canceled the account they had given me.
Most of the reason I hadn’t decided on a new provider was because I was debating switching to the new Israeli ISP – Internet Rimon.

On one hand they provide “kosher internet” and it seems the religious thing to do.
On the other hand, I have been responsible for providing filtered internet solutions before and I was worried that the filtering would make it impossible for me to work from home.

Now before I say more, I’m signed up to the most basic package which is only supposed to filter out pornography and violence. It is taking the “blacklist” approach which will always have some cracks. I would assume that the more protected packages work differently and possibly “better”.

As the package is, it looks to me like it will filter out casual contact with unwanted content. It may even stop an undetermined teenager. It has no chance of defeating someone mildly determined. I don’t see much in the way of special technology that was all hyped up in the media.

In short, I bypassed the filtering at least two ways in 20 minutes using nothing but freeware and a browser. If you think Internet Rimon is going to protect you kids from the Internet, don’t rely on the basic package. I’m not sure the stricter packages are better but I can tell you that the basic package will only stop casual browsing from landing on something immodest.

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9 comments for “Internet Rimon – First Impressions

  1. scientist
    December 30, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Internet rimon makes it impossible to work. Websites that provide nothing but text are blocked. This includes educational sites (such sites from universities).

    The worst part about internet rimon is that it contributes to the illusion that censorship is a good thing, or useful in any respect.

    • Yonah Russ
      December 30, 2009 at 4:04 pm

      I can’t agree with what you say. I have been using Internet Rimon for several months since I wrote this article and it has not given me substantial problems with working from home. On the other hand, this obviously depends on the level of filtering you are using. I have mine set on the lowest level of filtering for exactly this reason and it allows my VPN clients to connect to the office without problems.

      Regarding censorship in general, I’m all for it. I’ve worked on several web filtering projects myself and while I think it is an incredibly hard technology to succeed in, I hope someone succeeds.

      The Internet is a great and disgusting resource. There are those who would have you believe that everything should be made public on the Internet which I simply don’t believe in.

      My main point remains that the lowest level of Internet Rimon filtering (the only level I have experience with) is much less than adequate to protect children from being exposed to the dregs of society. Parents who think Internet Rimon (at this level, and possibly other levels) is a perfect and magical solution should be warned.

    • August 17, 2010 at 3:11 am

      I paid for Rimon service six months in advance last week. I called yesterday to have them connect me as directed. After more then 3 harrowing hours on the phone I was unable to speak w/ anyone who spoke basic English (and my Hebrew is not too bad). They were Rude, Abusive, Sarcastic, and worse of all were Unable to Understand me enough to connect me. After speaking to numerous “techs” they also refused to connect me w/ a superior. They make Netvision and their ilk seem civilized. THUMBS DOWN TO RIMON….LOSSERS

  2. scientist
    December 31, 2009 at 7:13 am

    I should make it clear that my work involves technical sites such as xmlfiles, as well as security sites such as full disclosure. Internet rimon also blocks /any/ private blog or mailing list.
    All of these examples are censored by rimon.

    Also – if you remove work from the equation internet rimon filters intellectual sites (procon.org for example).

    Regarding parents who want to “protect” their children (say from age 13+) from the dangers of the internet: censorship is the worst thing you could do. You are in essence telling them that “This is something you would look at on your own but for no good reason I’m stopping you”. A better plan is to discuss with your children how to use the internet (Sites that discuss things == good; random people inviting you to their houses == bad). It works better for children to know how to use the internet than for you to prevent “evil sites” from appearing on the computer.

    I mentioned 13+ as this is about when children develop intellectual skills necessary for use of the internet properly. Before then a very simple “Please ask mommy/daddy before using this site” filter is good enough.

    “I’ve worked on several web filtering projects myself”
    So have I – except my projects typically involve stopping malware instead of specific sites.

    • Yonah Russ
      December 31, 2009 at 10:03 am

      Regarding children, I agree and disagree. I agree that there should not be a double standard but from the opposite side- Parents should be using filtered Internet as well.

      Regarding the filtering of Internet Rimon itself, I reiterate that I have not seen any of the issues you mention. I read several private blogs and mailing lists regularly. The site you mention is also not blocked for me.

      My issues are the opposite- the filtering is somewhat incomplete and pretty trivial to bypass. I assume that the more protected levels are more complete but I’m not sure they are less trivial to bypass

  3. scientist
    December 31, 2009 at 11:12 am

    If some of reasonable intelligence is unable to differentiate between the good and the bad on the internet then they should be taught how to do so. It isn’t that hard.

    Censorship is dangerous. Firstly it tells you that you are unable to differentiate between good ideas (or things) and bad ideas (or things) on your own. Secondly it creates the “forbidden apple” effect. Anything that is forbidden I will go to, use, believe, etc. Parents should most certainly not be using filtering (except for possibly anti-malware filtering & notification). A child’s filtering should be disabled as soon s/he is able to determine what is good/bad on their own.

    I do use a program called WOT (web of trust) which gives me a visual indicator of how the community rates a particular site. However, luckily, it is trivially bypassed if the community made a mistake.

    I am not fully sure of which level of blocking I’m going using (I am not in charge of the ISP) however I can say it is far to much.

    • Yonah Russ
      January 3, 2010 at 11:39 pm

      For the same reason I’d rather my GPS not plot any routes via PA controlled territory, I’d rather that my Internet not contain pornography or violence or hate propaganda or missionary propaganda, etc. I don’t know exactly where the PA territories are and I certainly don’t want my error in judgment landing me in the center of Ramallah before I know it so I configure the GPS to keep me out. The same with Internet filtering. I do not want to go to these sites, even by accident, so I use a filter. In addition to educating my children to know what sites are good or bad, I will also educate them to use filtered Internet for themselves.

      Filtering the Internet is much more complicated than filtering certain roads from a GPS route so there are bound to be mistakes. Assuming Google’s count of 1 Trillion pages from 2008 is still correct today, and that 1 percent of that is pornography, then even a company who filtered 99.999% of all the pornography in the world would have missed 100,000 pages. Some statistics I found put the real number of pornographic web pages at 12% of all the pages on the Internet [source].

      Regarding Internet Rimon, I was originally expecting something better than all the other solutions out there. With all the hype about their ground breaking technologies. In reality, I’ve found that they are nothing special. They don’t block everything, and if they block something there are ways to bypass them which I won’t publish but they are not complicated. They are annoying in some ways like breaking Google’s calculator functionality, and breaking Google site searches embedded in websites. They update themselves, so sometimes old methods of bypassing the filters get closed off but there are always more so I have never actually gone through the process of asking them to open a page which was blocked for no reason.

  4. January 27, 2010 at 5:55 am

    Hi Yonah!

    I haven’t done a lot of research into this but have found the pro con latte firefox plugin useful. In general I just try to steer clear of hazardous zones by going only to urls I know and trust. Open a new tab and click the my roboform passcard for the site I want.

    -Adam

  5. Shmuel
    November 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    We use  Internet Rimon. There are several levels of filtering you can choose from. On the lowest level it does not over-block and does not stop you from working. If you think it’s interfering, you may want to lower the blocking level, which you can do online.

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