Spyware, (key)loggers, verification, and privacy - Protecting Children

#1
Current situation:
My home PC is located in a public area of the house. We have a 56K dial-up connection that is password protected. If our kids need to use the connection we log them in and monitor activity. The kids each have a networked PC in their room but the hardware/software is limited: they have P3's with MS office, can print on a central printer, and store files on the server. These workstations cannot connect to the Internet.

I am in the process of turning my children, boys ages 11 and 14, loose onto the internet. However, I would no more do that, without precautions, than I would take them whitewater rafting without wearing life vests.

Proposed situation:
Their workstations will still be for just work with no connection.
Considering upgrading the bandwidth on the connection.
Connection password will be turned over to the boys.
Main PC has been set up with 3 XP accounts: Me (Admin), Mom (Limited), and Boys (Limited), all password protected.

What I am looking for is some software that will log time/user/url in the background and be available for review and deletion only by the Admin account. I have found several that look promising (e.g. Internet Spy at www.spyarsenal.com) but they all set off all kinds of SPYWARE bells and whistles in Norton, Ad Aware, Spybot, etc. The ones that do not set off alarms just display files like index.dat that are easily deleted (I do it myself regularly with CrapCleaner to get rid of the bloat). These are verrrry savvy, straight A kids. I need overwhelming force.

Before the civil libertarians get all wound up, this situation has been discussed at great length with the boys. They are perfectly willing to have every URL they visit recorded and reviewed, if they can just log on and go to YourFavoriteVideoGameCheatPlanet.com whenever they please. For me it is the Reagan Doctrine: Trust but Verify.

Any suggestions?
-Icy
 
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chergh - 2008

#3
Re: Spyware, (key)loggers, verification, and privacy

A quick google for "internet monitor child freeware" brings up a lot of results which are probably of interest. I cant personally recommend any of this sort of software as I don't have any need for it yet.

As a general rule if a product is any good it will allow you a free trial of it, avoid those that don't.
 

harry

Super Moderator
#5
Re: Spyware, (key)loggers, verification, and privacy

When my son was growing up - during the win98 & ME time, I use to spy/monitor his usage by looking at the history file. Quickly, he learned to get around it but I went for the cookies instead. With XP, they are now cleared with a few clicks. I see it as a uphill struggle because they carry pen drives nowadays and you don't know whats inside and when they are over eighteen, need to give them the benefit of doubt.
If they are into a cat & mouse game, covering up their tracks, we can assume they are up to no good.

As a general rule if a product is any good it will allow you a free trial of it, avoid those that don't.
Sometimes you get more than what you expect!
 
Last edited:

Coury Ferguson

Moderator here to help
Staff member
Super Moderator
#6
I have read some articles on Windows Vista Operating and found that it is more secure than XP. They have added Timing of computer usage, controls of Internet usage, and various other security systems. If you decide to use Vista I would wait for about 6 months after release to let other users figure out the bugs.

The way I control my 15 year old son (Limited access) on the computer and Internet usage, is by having a password for his account that I know only. I have placed restrictions of 2 Hours per day (M-F) and 4 Hrs on Saturday, no time on Sundays. I have placed certain parental controls on what websites he can go to, and is unable to download and install any programs without my administrator rights. He doesn't like the restrictions I place on him, but he realizes that until he is 18 years old and not living under our household he will live by the rules.
 
#8
If you find some software you trust, Norton can be told to leave it alone, but Im not so sure about the rest (Ad Aware, Spybot, etc)
Thanks for the reminder. Norton, Ad-Aware and Spybot can all be told to ignore certain programs and registry entries. It looks like Internet Spy can be dangerous if some malicious person combined it with software that would disclose its log. Otherwise, the company seems above board.
A quick google for "internet monitor child freeware" brings up a lot of results which are probably of interest. As a general rule if a product is any good it will allow you a free trial of it, avoid those that don't.
Googled already. I'm looking for recommendations as I prefer not to find out that I have installed malicious software AFTER it forwards all my information. Free software....see below.
Another option is giving them a text based browser. It won't work with every site but on the whole it still works fine.
Unfortunately, many times they need the pictures to dress up reports, actually see Mt. St. Helen's exploding, etc.
If they are into a cat & mouse game, covering up their tracks, we can assume they are up to no good.
[With free software...]Sometimes you get more than what you expect!
It's not so much they cover their tracks, it's that I clear the history pretty regularly myself. We really don't play the cat and mouse game but they like to see what they can accomplish. Not so much to hide things but to say "Look what I figured out, Dad". Free software can come with a price of added MALICIOUS spyware. The Internet Spy Program could be extremely dangerous if it was combined with a mailer. They also offer a keylogger....same danger. Really good if just you can open/read. VERY bad if sent outside the PC.
I have placed certain parental controls on what websites he can go to, and is unable to download and install any programs without my administrator rights. He doesn't like the restrictions I place on him, but he realizes that until he is 18 years old and not living under our household he will live by the rules.
Norton provides Parental Control but doesn't block much outside of the US. I can't custom block sites unless I have a list of where they are wont to go. As for 18, children become adults by making more and more of their own decisions from age 10 to 18. I just want to be able to review the decisions...
I used PC Tattletale (I think that is correct spelling) when mine were the ages you are talking about. It logs everything and e-mails transcripts to you.
Thanks, Steel. Email won't cut it. I need it logged to the hard drive where only the Administrator can get to it.
-Icy
 

SteelMaiden

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#9
So, e-mail it to an account they don't have access to. My personal e-mail is web based from my provider, I could log in anywhere to see what was happening right then and there. Slight delay, maybe a minute or two.
 
#10
Steel,
You're very sneaky! However, I'm not sure that I want to send any of this info outside of my PC. I'd prefer to store it in an encrypted folder under the Admin account (Especially keylogs!). I looked at the PC Tattletale. It looks like overkill for what I want and it's a little pricey (US$50). However, I'm sure it can be configured to run, hide and store everything to the hard drive.
 
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