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Using Cotse.Net's Email Filters

Support: Basics: Parents: Master Control Accounts

Cotse.Net is absolutely unsurpassed in the range of filtering and email control options we give you, because we believe that it's your email, and you should set the rules for what you want to receive and what you want to block.

With a Master Control Account, parents can set up certain filters that will apply to their children's email and that cannot be modified by the children, while allowing the children to still customize and add additional filters to their own email.

It is very important, then, that you, as the parent, select carefully in configuring any master control filter settings.

To assist you in your selection, we recommend that you begin by first review our overview of our email filters before reading the material below.

Pick Your Approach to Email Filtering

Combining/Customizing Your Approach

After reviewing the email filters overview, determine whether you want a highly restrictive filtering system or an intermediate or less restrictive system for your master controls for the children's accounts.

If you really want to control who your child receives e-mail from, a Goldlist Sender approach would probably be more effective in conjunction with setting the Goldlist Sender option to delete all other (non-Goldlist) email. To implement that system:

Login to your Cotse.Net account and then:

  • Click "Options" at the top of the page
  • Click "Goldlist" from the menu page (not Goldlist Aliases, just Goldlist)
  • Enter the addresses of senders from whom you will accept email, e.g. auntjane4299@aol.com
  • Leave the default settings for dev/null and rejection notification settings
  • Although you can use a "bounce/rejection" message, we recommend you leave that blank
  • Click "Update Options" at the bottom of that page

Comments:

  • If your approved senders tend to use more than one email address to send you mail, you should add all of their addresses to that page.
  • If your children want you to add someone to the list of approved senders, you can do so at any time by simply adding their name to the list and updating that option page. Similarly, you can delete someone from the Goldlist Senders list by editing that page.
  • To switch systems entirely, delete all entries from this page and click "Update Options" at the bottom of the page. This will disable the Goldlist Sender method and make your other filters usable.

If you use the Goldlist Senders method, any email from an address on the Goldlist will be delivered to your child's Inbox (assuming the mail is addressed to them). This raises some security issues.

Security Notes: 

Spammers frequently forge or "spoof" addresses in their "From" line. By chance, it is possible that some spam will get through to your child's email if it arrives with a spoofed "From" line. That spam may contain objectionable material or infected attachments.

Because mail sent from addresses on your Goldlist using the approach described in the directions above will be delivered to the Inbox with no further checks or filters, if someone on your list unknowingly sends you an email with an infected attachment, that infected attachment will be delivered, and if your child doubleclicks on it to open it, the computer will be infected. Hence, we remind you of the importance of running frequently updated anti/virus software.

 

Although the Goldlist Sender and Subject-Line Password Phrase approaches are simple to implement, you may want to develop your own customized approach or combination of filters. The following is but just one example of how someone might approach the problem:

You can use Goldlist Your Aliases feature so that only email to a particular one or two of your child's "aliases" passes through a gateway for further checking and scrutiny. You could combine that with the Blacklist feature to blacklist senders, domains, or extensions you definitely do not want your child to receive mail from and have all mail from those blacklisted senders, domains, or extensions deleted from the mail server. For mail that has passed through the gateway and blacklist test, you could also add in a filter that checks for Banned Vocabulary (where you would enter the vocabulary that would trigger rejection or deletion of the mail), you can have the mail checked for Potentially Unsafe Images, and/or you can set rules for Handling Attachments. For any of these additional tests or filters, you can configure your settings so that if the mail "fails" the test or filter, it is deleted from the mail server entirely.

Note that if your child has used their goldlisted alias in any public part of the Internet, they are likely to receive spam addressed to that alias. Enabling "Spam Assassin"  will help prevent most spam from reaching their inbox.

Worried about missing "real" email from family or friends?  Add them to your "Whitelist Senders" list, but note that that will override the checks for unsafe attachments, etc.

The above is just one somewhat elaborate example of how you can combine filters to achieve certain outcomes. By reading the description of each type of filter and what it does carefully, you can begin to construct your own rules.

Note that our email filters apply to both the full header and text of an email. They do not apply to attachments, however, as these are received as encrypted. If you are concerned about objectionable material in attachments getting through to your Inbox, you will need to use either a very restrictive approach or use a customized approach that enables the Handling Attachments feature.

Alternative to the Above: Subject-Line Pasword Phrase

Some Common Questions

As an alternative to the Goldlist Senders approach, you may wish to use the Subject-Line Pasword Phrase approach to restricting email.

With this highly restrictive approach, only mail that includes the correct password phrase in the subject line will be delivered to your Inbox, and you can have all other email deleted from the server (you have other options for email that arrives without the password phrase, but for parental purposes, you may wish to just have all non-password phrase email deleted from the server). To enable this approach:

Login to your Cotse.Net account and then:

  • Click "Options" at the top of the page
  • Click "Subject-Line Password Phrase" from the menu page
  • Enter your password phrase in the form and leave other settings at their default values
  • Click "Update Options" at the bottom of that page

Comments:

  • Email from any sender will be delivered as long as it contains the password phrase somewhere in the subject line
  • You can change the password phrase, but don't forget to notify people from whom you'd wish to receive email
  • To disable Subject-Line Password Phrase protection, simply clear the password phrase box and click "Update Options"

Security Concerns: 

Because mail sent with the password phrase will be delivered to your your child's Inbox with no further checks or filters, if someone unknowingly sends them an email with an infected attachment, that infected attachment will be delivered, and if your child doubleclicks on it to open it, the computer will be infected. Hence, we remind you of the importance of running frequently updated anti/virus software.

Q:  Can my child add identities or aliases that would bypass any of the rules I set up in the master control account?

A: No. Any aliases your child set ups for their account for incoming email would still be subject to the rules you create in the master account.

Q:  If I don't want my child to receive email from anyone other family members and friends I approve of, which system am I better off using?

A: The Goldlist Sender approach, because with the Subject-Line Password Phrase approach, your child can give out the password phrase to people.

Note that this method is not fool-proof, because if your child is really determined to evade your rules, they could suggest a friend send email under a "spoofed" address that is on the "approved" list.

There simply is no guaranteed method when it comes to kids. Parental supervision, ongoing communication, and some degree of trust will always come into play.

Q: If my child has given out his email address to so many places or people that I am concerned about security and privacy, can I change my child's username and start again?

A: Email helpdesk at cotse.net and we'll try to assist you.


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