Home > All, Security Issues > TalkTalk’s HomeSafe: security or censorship?

TalkTalk’s HomeSafe: security or censorship?

October 20, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

“TalkTalk,” announced the ISP on 15 October, “fully supports the Government’s recent recommendations to help protect children online. We believe in safe broadband, affordable for all, which is why we invested in creating HomeSafe™ – our unique, free, online security.”

What is HomeSafe? I asked them. More than once. And got a full and detailed response to all my queries:

  • The user can add extra sites to the block list; can he/she remove specific sites from the blocklist?
    If a customer believes that a website has been incorrectly categorised they can report that to us (there is a button on the block page) however they cannot ‘allow’ individual websites on an individual basis.
  • How is your block list generated/maintained?
    We work with Symantec
  • Is your anti-virus engine your own, or do you use a third-party AV system; and if so, which?
    We work with Symantec
  • How granular is the social networking facility? For example, could I block all social networks except, say, LinkedIn?
    See answer to question 1. Of course if a user wanted to, they could block up to 9 networking sites but not say, LinkedIn, using the additional customisation functionality which allows them to block up to 9 additional websites of their choosing.
  • Do you have any additional information (whitepapers, etc?) that would help me understand how HomeSafe works?
    We don’t have any whitepapers on HomeSafe. There is however some further information available here http://www.talktalk.co.uk/security/faq/
  • Is HomeSafe opt in or opt out for new TalkTalk customers?
    New and existing customers opt in and choose to turn on one or more (or none at all) of the three HomeSafe features as they wish to.

So what do we now know about HomeSafe? It works with Symantec. Apart from that, it’s not very granular and is pretty much all or nothing. But at least it’s opt-in rather than opt-out. Oh, and we also know that TalkTalk isn’t very talkative.

Recommendations? If you’re a naive home user with little knowledge of computers or security, then opt-in. There will be problems, you won’t get a full internet, and your experience will be censored by a third party. But if you’re that naive, you probably won’t notice.

For everyone else, opt-out. Take responsibility on yourself. Be your own censor. Be responsible for your family. And experience the full, wild, anarchic, dangerous and wonderful world that is the internet.

Categories: All, Security Issues
  1. April 4, 2014 at 10:47 am

    TalkTalk get so much bad press, but they really do offer one of the most comprehensive services compared to sky or virgin, at a fraction of the price! This just confirms that even more!


  2. November 3, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    No but I have no choice, I can’t opt-out.

    They should only be redirecting the traffic of the users that request the system. I could do it so I know they or rather Huawei-Symantec could.

    I have a system which checks my website is up every five minutes. Now I find an Opal malware bot pretending to be IE8 not even saying it’s a scanning engine connecting from 62.24.222.(132|131) every 5 minutes too.

    I have a passive monitor and my mail server does no layer 7 parsing or virus scanning for the very reason that it can be exploited and then I find my ISP compulsorarily lowering my networks security for me and for what. Snort.org recommend passive taps due to past exploits in this kind of filtering for this very reason and what a good target, a MITM of everyone.

    The poster at the following url is right (http://www.lightbluetouchpaper.org/2011/05/10/talktalks-new-blocking-system/) they’ve blinkered MPs yet again for ad revenue, otherwise they would have prevented IP spoofing at a much safer layer. As if a company with such long customer service waiting times and such a low broadband price would pay for this out of the goodness of their hearts. ISPs originally refused to prevent IP spoofing because they said the routing should be as safe and simple as possible, by only transporting data. Not only were they right but that would be a much safer layer to filter on than homesafe operates on and you can’t opt out.

    All they accomplish is advertising the dodgy sites. The day the judge announced newzbin2 blocked newzbin was back up and I didn’t even know about newzbin. Malware creators like new malware ideas too.

    Do I really have to use a VPN to a server on the net to get around their incompetence or hire a lawyer to get my contract terminated as from what I’ve read I do believe it’s illegal under european law??

    It also potentially doubles dos attacks.

    I posted to talktalks site but had my comments deleted every time. I phoned them and they didn’t even know what the service was and this is the business call centre.


  3. Annis
    October 29, 2011 at 11:41 am

    If I want a censored internet, I can go live in China. This abortion of a ‘security package’ blocked me out of Facebook all morning, despite my ensuring it was deactivated on my account. WIll be moving ISP as soon as I can arrange it.


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