Support FAQ's

CS-1, CS-8 and CS-8 Pro

  1. How do I log into ComSifter?

  2. When we log into our CS1B, CS1C, CS8B, CS-8Pro or CS-8Pro NS using HTTPS the browser gives us a security warning. Is it OK to click Continue to proceed to login page?

  3. We have forgotten our password. What can we do?

  4. We connected a mouse, keyboard, and monitor to the ComSifter and are trying to login. We cannot login.  What do we do?

  5. We installed a new router -- and now the ComSifter is not filtering or some of our computers are filtered and some are not.  What should we do?

  6. How do I get started on ComSifter installation?

  7. I have installed the ComSifter CS-1, CS-1B, CS-1C, CS8, or CS-8B and it is not filtering any of my computers.  What should we do?

  8. Our ComSifter has been working great. This morning we were unable to get to the Internet and we cannot log into our ComSifter. Nothing changed on our network.  What do we do?

  9. How can I tell if ComSifter is working?

  10. I found a site that has inappropriate content. What should I do?

  11. What happens if I have a power outage?

  12. Is there a way for me to change the Sensitivity Level setting?

  13. Is there a way to change the message on the denied screen?

  14. Is there a way for our teachers’ PCs to be unfiltered?

  15. I noticed that one of the features of ComSifter is email notifications. What does that do?

  16. Comsift is blocking some web sites that we need to access. How do we allow blocked websites?

  17. Does ComSifter support whitelisting?

  18. Can ComSifter block all web sites from a given country?

  19. We have unblocked myspace.com (or other site). When the site loads the graphics are missing or the page does not load properly. What should we do?

  20. Our ComSifter has become slow to respond, the yellow light is on constantly and our Internet Connection is very slow. What should we do?

  21. This morning we are unable to reach (pick one) CNN, MSNBC, AOL or Fox News. The denied page says Banned due to Weighted Phrase. What should we do?

  22. Why is there so much white space on the denied page?

  23. I have a computer(s) that cannot connect to the Internet. When I go to a web site the browser says “web site found” but all I see is a blank page. Sometimes after a few minutes the page loads. What should I do?

  24. Our network is running slow. Is the ComSifter slowing it down?

  25. We are receiving an email notification from our ComSifter that the load is at 100%. It typically clears back to normal within 5-10 minutes. Is this normal?

  26. We are integrating our CS-8B, CS-8Pro or CS-8Pro NS with Active Directory. We have put the name of our Domain Controller in the Host/Domain Name (not a FQDN). The error message says “unable to bind”. What should we do?

  27. We have successfully integrated with Active Directory, are successfully pushing out the client software and have opened port 113 on the client computers. We are getting “nousername” on the denied page and in the Access Log and our filters are not working. What is wrong? 

  28. Our WinXP computers connect flawlessly to the Internet but our new Vista/Win7 computers do not connect. We have allowed Port 113 inbound on our Vista/Win7 computers. We do not use identification (comsifterservice). What should we do?

  29. We have successfully integrated Active Directory, used Group Policy to open port 113 on client firewalls and are trying to push out comsifterservice14.msi by way of Group Policy Computer Management. It works on workstations that an administrator is logged into but will not load on workstations with a normal user. What should we do?

  30. We are setting up a multiple filter and wish to use Identd for client identification. On the CD we see to versions. One is called ComSifter Connection, the other is ComSifter Service. Which should we use?

  31. The ComSifter is blocking a web site that we need to access. What should we do?


 

1. How do I log into ComSifter?

CS-1 & CS-8, http://comsifterip:10000
CS1B, CS-8B, CS-8Pro NS, CS-8Pro— https://comsifterip:10000
Default username/password is admin/admin.

If you have forgotten the comsifterip run “ipconfig /all” from a Command Prompt on a workstation that is being filtered by the ComSifter. The Default Gateway listed for your connection will be the comsifterip.

If the comsifterip cannot be determined using the above method you may find the comsifterip as follows:

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2. When we log into our CS1B, CS1C, CS8B, CS-8Pro or CS-8Pro NS using HTTPS the browser gives us a security warning. Is it OK to click Continue to proceed to login page?

This is normal. ComSifter uses a self-signed certificate so we can encrypt the transmission between the client browser and the ComSifter.  This method saves a great deal of money over a 3rd party full certificate, which would be unique to each ComSifter. Note: recent releases of Firefox do not allow you to click through. You must add the ComSifter’s IP to an exception list.

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3. We have forgotten our password. What can we do?

Call Comsift at 866-875-1254 x 703

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4.  We connected a mouse, keyboard, and monitor to the ComSifter and are trying to login. We cannot login.  What do we do?

The ComSifter may only be configured using a browser from a computer that is on the same network as the ComSifter. CS-1B, CS-1C, CS-8B, CS8Pro, and CS-8Pro NS do have an Emergency Console that is available in the event that you are locked out of your ComSifter. The console is available for 30 seconds after the ComSifter boots. The emergency console can display network settings and allows the firewall/port blocker to be set to a known state.  See Item 1 above

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5. We installed a new router -- and now the ComSifter is not filtering or some of our computers are filtered and some are not.  What should we do?

Most consumer grade routers have DHCP turned on by default. Consumer grade routers assume that they will be the Internet Gateway and set their DHCP that way. If the ComSifter or an internal server were performing DHCP before the router change you must log into the router and disable DHCP Server. (Note: the above may also be experienced if the router had been reset to factory defaults.)

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6. How do I get started on ComSifter installation?

Let’s start with your network settings. If you do not know your network settings -- Open a command prompt (Run > cmd). On the command line type ipconfig /all (note the space between ipconfig and /all). Document your IP address, netmask, DHCP server, Internet (default) gateway and DNS Servers. Then follow the Phases outlined in the Quick Start guide for your model.

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7.  I have installed the ComSifter CS-1, CS-1B, CS-1C, CS8, or CS-8B and it is not filtering any of my computers.  What should we do?

The final step is to redirect your client computers to use the ComSifters IP as the Gateway instead of the router. If you are using a consumer grade router (Linksys, Netgear, D-Link, etc) you will have to disable the DHCP server service on these devices and use the ComSifter’s built in DHCP Server. If you are using a Windows Server, MAC Server, or commercial grade router (Cisco, SonicWall, Jupiter, etc), then you will need to change the gateway or router statement in their DHCP server to the ComSifters IP. 

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8. Our ComSifter has been working great. This morning we were unable to get to the Internet and we cannot log into our ComSifter. Nothing changed on our network.  What do we do?

a)      Check the link light status on the ComSifter Ethernet port and the port [router or Ethernet switch] the ComSifter is plugged into. If one or the other is not lit, replace the Ethernet cable. If not, which link light is out? If it is the switch, it is faulty. If it is the ComSifter, it is faulty.

b)      Power off the ComSifter by removing the power cord.

c)      Connect a monitor to the VGA plug on the back of the ComSifter.

d)      Reconnect the power to the ComSifter.

e)      Do you see post Codes? If not unit has failed.

f)        If so do you see OK, OK, OK etc? If not unit has failed.

g)      If you see Disk Check, Inode Error – the unit has failed.

h)      After about 1 minute you should see “bringing up eth0” If the response is OK then continue. If the response is “duplicate IP on Network” then someone has installed a new device on your network and is using the ComSifter’s IP.

i)        If you see login localhost then the ComSifter has booted normally.

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9. How can I tell if ComSifter is working?

The simplest test is to try a known blocked site for each sensitivity setting.

Level 1 any address below

Level 2 www.mail.yahoo.com               (email) 

Level 3 www.casino.com                      (gambling)

Level 4 www.adult.com                        (pornography)

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10. I found a site that has inappropriate content. What should I do?

As the administrator for ComSifter you may add the site to the Banned Site List. 

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11. What happens if I have a power outage?

ComSifter will automatically reset itself. No user/operator intervention is required.

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12. Is there a way for me to change the Sensitivity Level setting?

Yes, as the administrator for ComSifter you can change the Sensitivity Level, add to the Exception Site List, add to the Banned Site List and change the Access Denied page.

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13. Is there a way to change the message on the denied screen?

Yes, as the administrator for ComSifter you can change the Sensitivity Level, add to the Exception Site List, add to the Banned Site List and change the Access Denied page.

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14. Is there a way for our teachers’ PCs to be unfiltered?

Yes, the ComSifter Administrator can add any IP to the Exception IP List. This can include teachers, administrators or anyone that needs unfiltered access.

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15. I noticed that one of the features of ComSifter is email notifications. What does that do?

ComSifter monitors its health every 5 minutes. This includes disk space, memory usage, load, voltages and temperatures, cable connections, and power on status. If there is a fault in any of these conditions the ComSifter will send an email to the recipients listed in Email Notification Parameters. By default Comsift Technical Support is sent a copy.

In addition to fault information, every Monday morning, at a random time between midnight and 5AM, a copy of the Comsifter Configuration is emailed to the email recipients listed. The configuration backup can be used in this event that your Comsifter needs to be replaced.

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16. Comsift is blocking some web sites that we need to access. How do we allow blocked websites?

All ComSifters have a method for unblocking websites. 

CS-1 – Click on Levels and Lists and add site to “Exception Site List”.
All other ComSifters – Click on Filter Setup, Click on Master Filter or desired filter, add site to Exception Domain List.

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17. Does ComSifter support whitelisting?

Legacy Model CS-1 does not support whitelisting.

Legacy Models CS-8 and CS-8Pro support whitelisting indirectly. This is done by adding the following words to the Words/Phrases > Pornography > Edit Banned CSphrase Filter Words/Phrases. Enter 5 new words separately. The words are a, e, i, o, u. This will effectively ban every page on the Internet. Place any sites you wish to allow in the Exception Domain List.

Models CS-1B, CS-1C, CS-8B and CS-8Pro NS support whitelisting directly by entering **#WHITELIST in the Banned Domain List of the desired filter

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18. Can ComSifter block all web sites from a given country?

Models CS-1B, CS-1C, CS8B, and CS-8Pro NS have the capability to block any country code. This is done by entering the country code preceded by a “dot” into the Banned Domain List. To block all websites from Russia, Country Code “ru”, you would enter “.ru”.

Legacy models CS-1, CS-8 and CS-8Pro do not have this capability.

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19. We have unblocked myspace.com (or other site). When the site loads the graphics are missing or the page does not load properly. What should we do?

Many sites use 3rd party sites to get content for their site. These sites must also be unblocked. In the case of myspace this is myspacecdn.com. For other sites review the ComSifter access log to see if 3rd party sites are being blocked when the original site is accessed.

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20. Our ComSifter has become slow to respond, the yellow light is on constantly and our Internet Connection is very slow. What should we do?

Adobe has misclassified their Adobe Reader updates as text, when in reality they are binary files. The ComSifter dutifully tries to filter the multi-megabyte file but quickly realizes that the file has been misclassified and aborts. During this period the Adobe updater times out and restarts the process. Multiply this by many computers and the ComSifters resources are quickly overwhelmed. The solution is to add adobe.com to the Exception Site List.

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21. This morning we are unable to reach (pick one) CNN, MSNBC, AOL or Fox News. The denied page says Banned due to Weighted Phrase. What should we do?

Most often this is due to a titillating story that has appeared that day (porn star to run for president, child porn ring arrested, etc). The story has enough bad words to trip the ComSifter ban mechanism. The solution is to explain to the user community what the issue is or add the appropriate site to the Exception Site List. Note: you can view the ComSifter access log to determine what words caused the ban.

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22. Why is there so much white space on the denied page?

ComSifter blocks third party advertising. These programs are typically unsophisticated and will display what ever you give them. If ComSifter displayed the page without white space, then pages with multiple advertisements (record is 7) your users would see broken parts of the Denied Page scattered on the page. By presenting the white space the ad program displays white -- resulting in an aesthetically pleasing page (minus the advertisement).

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23. I have a computer(s) that cannot connect to the Internet. When I go to a web site the browser says “web site found” but all I see is a blank page. Sometimes after a few minutes the page loads. What should I do?

This symptom indicates that a firewall on the affected computer is not allowing port 113 inbound. On model CS-8 and CS-8Pro it is a requirement that all computers on the network have a firewall rule allowing port 113 inbound to be open. On Models CS-8B and CS-8ProNS this is a requirement only if “Enable Identd authentication” has been enabled from Filter Setup > Filter Service Options.

Note: Comsift has seen instances on user computers where more than one firewall has been installed. If opening port 113 inbound on the Windows firewall does not resolve the issue it would be prudent to look for another firewall. Typical candidates are Norton, MacAfee, Zone Alarm, CA, and Trend Micro. Running more than one firewall does not increase security, slows the user system considerably and causes compatibility issues.

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24. Our network is running slow. Is the ComSifter slowing it down?

The ComSifter incorporates a proxy cache and under typical circumstances will actually speed up your network. The following steps should be followed to troubleshoot a slow network.

a) Determine if you have a LAN problem. From a workstation command prompt type in “ping –t the_routers_ip”. This will start a continuous one second ping to the router. You should see continuous replies and they should be in the single digit millisecond range (typically <1ms). Observe the response for a few minutes. You should never see a timeout or no reply on your LAN. If you do you are seeing infrastructure problems on your network. This can be caused by faulty cabling, failing or under-specification router, failing or faulty switches, or incorrect network settings on equipment. CTL-C will stop the continuous ping.

b) Run an Internet Connection Test from the ComSifter. This will test your DNS servers and Internet Connection. Typical DNS response times are 10-100ms. Numbers larger than this indicate an overloaded DNS Server. The ComSifter will return a connection speed. This figure may not be representative of your local connection due to routing bottlenecks. A more accurate reading may be obtained using your ISP’s speed test or a test found at www.speakeasy.net/speed. If these tests show a low connection speed then further isolation is required. If your ComSifter is a CS-1B, CS-1C, or CS-8B, then configure a workstation to use the router as the gateway bypassing the ComSifter. If the speed tests are still low then you have a problem with the router or your ISP-provided connection. If the speed tests are normal then there is an issue going through your ComSifter and a call to Comsift Tech support would be appropriate. If you have a CS-8Pro or CS-8Pro NS it is not possible to bypass the ComSifter, so you will need to replace it temporarily with a workstation. Determine your WAN settings in the ComSifter (DHCP or Static). Disconnect the WAN connection from the ComSifter and connect your workstation directly to the Cable/DSL/T1/Satellite modem. Enter the WAN settings you derived from the ComSifter into your workstation TCP/IP properties. You should be able to connect your workstation directly to the Internet and rerun the speed tests. If the speed tests are poor, then there is an issue with your Cable/DSL/T1/Satellite modem or ISP connection. If the speed tests are good, then the ComSifter would be suspect.

c) Verify that DNS is working properly. From a command prompt type “nslookup google.com”. The first DNS server listed in your TCP/IP properties should reply. If the first DNS Server times out and the second responds, then you are adding many seconds to each Internet query.

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25. We are receiving an email notification from our ComSifter that the load is at 100%. It typically clears back to normal within 5-10 minutes. Is this normal?

If the condition clears in 5-10 minutes there is no action required. A 100% load message is an indication that the ComSifter has so many requests to service that it is beginning to buffer the requests. The initial user experience will be a delay of a page by a second or so. This buffering will continue until the load is reduced or the user browser times out (typically 30 seconds or so). Typical conditions that can cause this condition are:

a. Synchronized surfing -- example, class let’s open our browser. When this happens the ComSifter sees a request for the homepage from however many computers are opening their homepage. The ComSifter must service all the computers at once. If you suspect this condition, and you trust your homepage, place the homepage in the Exception Domain/Site list. The ComSifter will not filter the page, reducing the load.

b. Poorly written web pages. Comsift has seen some web pages that use an excessive number of connects to fill a page. The record to date has been a blog site that required 400 connects to display a single page.

c. If the condition does not clear within 5-10 minutes and you notice a slowdown on you network you may have a computer with malware that in effect is creating an internal denial of service by making 10’s or 100’s of requests per second to an external website. If this is the case the offending computer should be traced down and removed from the network.

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26. We are integrating our CS-8B, CS-8Pro or CS-8Pro NS with Active Directory. We have put the name of our Domain Controller in the Host/Domain Name (not a FQDN). The error message says “unable to bind”. What should we do?

Verify that the ComSifter DNS setting (Network > Network Wizard) points to your internal DNS server. If it is not, it is trying to query your ISPs DNS server for a name that only exists on your network, and failing to receive a lookup. Alternatively you may enter the IP of your Domain Controller in the Host/Domain Name field.

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27. We have successfully integrated with Active Directory, are successfully pushing out the client software and have opened port 113 on the client computers. We are getting “nousername” on the denied page and in the Access Log and our filters are not working. What is wrong? 

The final step is to turn on Identd Authentication. This is done from Filter Setup > Master Filter > Filter Service Options > Enable Identd Authentication.

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28. Our WinXP computers connect flawlessly to the Internet but our new Vista/Win7 computers do not connect. We have allowed Port 113 inbound on our Vista/Win7 computers. We do not use identification (comsifterservice). What should we do?

Due to new security considerations, Vista/Win7 not only require port 113 inbound to be open but also comsifterservice.msi must be installed on the Vista/Win7 computers.

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29. We have successfully integrated Active Directory, used Group Policy to open port 113 on client firewalls and are trying to push out comsifterservice14.msi by way of Group Policy Computer Management. It works on workstations that an administrator is logged into but will not load on workstations with a normal user. What should we do?

 When Windows Installer is trying to install comsiftservice14.msi it is doing so under the security context of the logged in user. Since a standard user cannot install software the installation fails. To remedy this the privileges of the Windows Installer must be elevated. This is done in Group Policy in both Computer and User. Navigate to:

Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Installer > Always Install with Elevated Privileges = Enabled.

And

User Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Installer > Always Install with Elevated Privileges = Enabled.

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30. We are setting up a multiple filter and wish to use Identd for client identification. On the CD we see to versions. One is called ComSifter Connection, the other is ComSifter Service. Which should we use?

ComSifter Connection is deprecated. It should only be used on client computers running Windows 2000 or earlier.

ComSifter Service is designed for WinXP/Vista/Win7 clients. It runs as a service and may be easily pushed to clients using a Domain Group Policy.

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31. The ComSifter is blocking a web site that we need to access. What should we do?

Data that the ComSifter is filtering must pass the following mechanisms in the filter.

The first of these is the Firewall/Port Blocker. In this area Firewall/Port Blocker Rules are applied. Data at this point is still packetized and typical packet sizes are 1500 bytes or smaller (determined by LAN MTU settings).

The next step is the filtering mechanism. This mechanism assembles the received packets and examines the data looking for http headers. The header contains the information regarding the request that is coming from the client computer after traversing the firewall/portblocker. At this time the filter determines if the requested URL is on a relevant exception list. If it is not on an exception list the URL is checked against the relevant blacklists. If it is a deny page is sent to the client. If it is not the filter then requests the proxy mechanism to fetch the page for analysis. The filter then analyzes the page for words and phrases.  If it passes this analysis then the page is returned to the client computer, if not a denied page is sent

The most common type of denial is one in which the user sees a denied page. If a determination is made that the page should be allowed then this is easily accomplished by adding the domain or URL to the appropriate Exception List.

It is possible, but rare, to have problems when the ComSifter proxy service is retrieving pages. This type of failure typically happens when accessing a secure site (https) and is manifested by the failure of the page to load or nothing happens. In this case the secure server may not like, or respond to the ComSifter trying to retrieve the page. The secure server may suspect that the ComSifter is trying a man-the-middle attack. In this case you will not see a denied page. To workaround this failure you may try configuring the browser to work in proxy mode.

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