What is Parental Control Software?

Can Internet Filtering Programs Help Parents Protect Their Children?

Knowing what kids do when they are online can be hard & parents can’t stand and watch everything they do. The parental control software may be a solution worth considering.

Kids spend a lot of time online nowadays. They may use the Internet to play games, to have a relaxing surf, to chat with their friends or to help with homework assignments. Great as the Internet may be, it does bring a variety of problems with it especially for children who may not have the life experience to use it sensibly.

But, monitoring a child’s Internet usage can be near impossible. Parents won’t have the time to watch their kids whenever they are online, especially as they get older. Parental control software is an alternative option used by many parents to try and keep their kids safe.

What is Parental Control Software?

This kind of software basically sets limits on what a child can do when they are online. It can be set up in various ways to prevent them from doing anything that would be inappropriate for their age or that might harm them. These programs work by using Internet filtering processes to block specific actions that they and the parents set.

They also often allow parents to track what their kids are doing online. This can happen in “stealth” mode where the kids aren’t told that they are being tracked or monitored or parents can choose to tell their kids what is going on. By the time kids reach their teenage years they may get wise to the fact that their activity is being monitored in any case.

How does a Parental Control System Work?

There are a variety of situations and surfing opportunities that parents don’t want their kids to do. These programs will offer a range of solutions, including:

  • Blocking access to specific types of sites (such as gambling websites).
  • Setting time limits on how long and when a child can go online.
  • Reporting on what a child is doing when they are on a computer (i.e. by listing surfing activity or keylogging).
  • Issuing alerts to parents when their child tries to do something they shouldn’t.
  • Monitoring instant messaging and chat room conversations for signs of trouble.
  • Looking at social networking activity to check that it is age appropriate.

The options on offer may vary from program to program. Parents are also often given choices on how stringently they monitor their child. Some, for example, will simply want a basic email report of what their child has done online. Others may want to monitor chat and IM content.

What can Parental Software Protect Against?

There are a variety of issues and actions that could cause problems here. Letting any child loose on the Internet can be risky, especially if they don’t yet understand how to surf safely and how to look after themselves online. So, this could help prevent kids:

  • Being able to access inappropriate sites.
  • Suffering from cyberbullying and grooming in chat rooms and on IM sites.
  • Accessing social networking sites when they are underage and acting inappropriately if they are old enough to register.
  • Spending too much time online.

Although many parents worry about “nannying” their children too much here, many others simply find this an effective solution to potential problems.

Where to Find Parental Control Software

Some parents find that they are given elements of Internet filtering either on their operating system or from their Internet supplier. In some cases, the software on offer here may give them all the protection they need.

In other cases, however, they may find that they get better filtering options by buying specially designed software packages. Many will come with a free trial so this may be worth looking at for those who think they’ll get better solutions with an off the shelf system.

Parents should bear in mind that parental control software, whilst useful, may not be not a long-term solution. Talking to their kids about safe surfing and how to protect themselves online is just as important.


How to Protect Yourself From On-Line Crime

One of the most popular pastimes when using a home computer is the use of the internet. It’s a great place for research, news, buying and selling and keeping in touch.

The internet is a great place for research, news, buying and selling and keeping in touch whether it’s by email or internet chat-rooms, etc. But with the growth in popularity of the internet comes an exponential growth in online crime. In 2006 the incidence of online financial fraud was double the number of robberies taking place in the UK and figures released in October 2008 by UK payment services Apacs showed online banking fraud losses totaled £21.4m during the six months to June 2008 a 185% rise on the 2007 figure.

Protect Your Computer From On-Line Crime

On-line criminals target individuals in many ways, for example, it may be possible to:

  • Infect a personal computer with spyware and steal your identity
  • Infect a personal computer with pop-ups, viruses, worms, and trojans
  • Bombard email accounts with spam and other unsolicited emails
  • Take over a personal computer remotely and use it to attack other people
  • Hack into a home wireless network (over 50% of people questioned admitted to using a wireless network belonging to someone else)

Will luck, all that will happen is that email will slow- clogged up with unsolicited email. Files may be corrupted or online criminals may target other unsuspecting individuals using information stored on your computer. Your identity, your privacy, your money, your reputation, and your computer are all at stake.

Quick Guide to Protect Your Computer From Hackers

Here is a quick guide to help to ensure all personal computing equipment is safe:

Make sure personal computers are protected with the latest security patches and anti-virus software. Many computers sold on the high street may have been in the stockroom for several months so come with software which is out of date. Out of date security patches and anti-virus software leave machines vulnerable to attack, so set preferences to auto-download, this will ensure patching remains current. In an attempt to prevent online fraud some financial institutions allow free downloads of security software for their customers.

Stay secure online. When using the internet ensure you know who you are talking to, whether that be a ‘friend’ in an internet chat-room or conducting business with your online bank. Remember: reputable online businesses will not ask users to disclose personal “details”. When shopping online always use secure sited- look for the padlock symbol.

Exercise caution when dealing with unsolicited email and email from unknown sources.

Ensure the home wireless connection is safe by Encryption, wireless routers give the user the option of encrypting data so bank details and passwords cannot be intercepted. Protect home wireless connections with a password.

Don’t broadcast the name of your wireless network (SSID). In addition, choose an obscure hard-to-guess SSID name to make life harder for Wi-Fi hackers – if it can be identified as an SSID e.g. Joe Bloggs network it is easier for hackers to target.

Password protect personal computers. Choose a password, a minimum of eight characters in length comprising of alpha-numeric and special characters. Change the password regularly. Do not disclose the password or write it down. Add a user account for each family member. This gives each user their own password and access to their own files.

Set a password for the screen saver and remember to lock the screen by pressing ctrl-alt-delete when the computer is left unattended.

When replacing a personal computer make sure the old machine is decommissioned correctly. A fraudster will know where to look for the data they want. Credit card details are available for less than £10, the criminal fraternity source old PC’s from internet auction sites, rubbish tips, and second-hand shops. ‘Which’ magazine recommends destroying the hard disc with a hammer but this could be detrimental to the environment. Simply deleting files is not sufficient to permanently erase them. A special utility such as Evidence Eliminator, KillDisc, Eraser or other proprietary software is what’s needed to delete all traces of the file.

A few moments spent ensuring the home computer is fully protected will prevent a drain on expenses either repairing the machine if it becomes infected with worms, viruses, and Trojans, etc or, more importantly, identity theft.


How to Enhance Computer Network Security

What Administrators can do to Minimize Risks and Protect Servers

The network administrator is responsible to ensure that there is a secure network. A closer look at proxy servers, internal hackers and network security solutions

There are a number of measures a Network Administrator can take to enhance network security within the company.

Proxy Server Security

A proxy server connects to the Internet on behalf of the users and serves the web pages to them as they request. A proxy server will also keep pages in cache and serves these pages to other users without connecting to the Internet to save on bandwidth.

Another advantage of implementing a Proxy server is that the Administrator has more control over who accesses the Internet and when. The Administrator can also block objectionable web sites if he wishes. Users often pick up computer viruses by visiting non-work related websites, networking security will limit this risk.

The Network Administrator should also take care to close the ports that are used for Internet browsing (in particular port 80) on the firewall, except for use by the Proxy server itself. For example, if port 80 were left open for all traffic through the firewall, a user might be able to circumvent the proxy server without anyone knowing about it. On the other hand, closing port 80 forces users to use the proxy server.

Typically a proxy server will give the Network Administrator reports which will allow him to see dangerous trends developing amongst Internet users, whether it be the time spent on the Internet or the type of sites visited.

Protect Servers From Internal Hackers

Since most hacking comes from within the company where security is laxer, it is imperative that a Network Administrator take steps to limit this risk. Here are a few things a Network Administrator can do to enhance computer network security within the company.

  • Physically secure the company servers behind locked doors. Limit the access to these servers to a few authorized personnel.
  • View server log files for evidence of suspicious activity like multiple login failures. This could be a sign that someone is trying to hack in. Often it is not “what you see” but “what you don’t see”, so check log files to see if there are chunks missing. Hackers will attempt to cover their tracks by deleting out evidence in log files. Missing entries could indicate the presence of a hacker.
  • Install hacker detection software. The package “Tripwire” is a well-known utility that will alert the Network Administrator is someone tries to hack into the server.
  • Keep all Servers up to date with the latest security updates.
  • Change the administrator “username” on Microsoft Servers so that a hacker will have to guess the “username” and the “password”. Keep a user called “administrator” but give that user no rights to the server.
  • Unfortunately, on Linux servers, the “root” username can’t be changed. The user “root” is the Linux equivalent of “administrator”. In view of this, disable remote login for the “root” user. Rather log in remotely like a normal user, then switch to the root user once connected. Never leave a remote session open when unattended.
  • Ban the use of so-called ethical hacking tools within the organization. If anyone is caught using these tools without permission, their motive can then be questioned. The Linux tool “map” is an example of this. Nmap is a port scanner, allowing the user to see which ports are open on a server and thus highlighting possible vulnerabilities.
  • Always log off once finished with an administrative session. Use a superuser account where possible to perform administrative tasks.
  • Linux server administrators should check the “/etc/passwd” file on a regular basis for any user other than root that has a user ID or group ID of “0”. Some administrators give other users root’s user ID of “0” as a way of giving ordinary users root privileges. Be aware that this practice is not advised. There are other, more secure ways of giving users access to perform certain administrative tasks.
  • As an extreme precaution take away CDROMS, floppy drives, keyboards, mouses and monitors from servers that don’t require physical access.

Many companies overlook the security risks coming from within their organization since the perception is that the greater risk comes from outside. The biggest risk, however, comes from disgruntled or unethical staff members seeking to do damage to the company or steal data for the opposition. The Network Administrator should analyze these potential risks on a regular basis.


Information Security Software and Information Security Programs

Information security software primarily lays focus on two important security software: Computer network security software and database security software.

Information security software is a term that is associated with two different software components viz computer network security software and computer database security software. Designing information security software involves a series of processes that include:

  • security risk analysis
  • information security risk assessment

Then a formulation of this knowledge into an algorithm that will then be turned into an information security program is required.

What is Information Security?

Information security is a term that is used everywhere, e.g., online transactions involving a transfer of money, signing in to an email account, sending messages through a cell phone, and many such examples. Information security comes into play in almost every possible platform where information exchange of any form takes place.

With almost everyone getting connected through technology and a large number of transfers of information, both personal and confidential, it has become even more a task for security handling agencies to maintain information security.

Information security involves several principles. While processing information or transferring it over a medium, several key points need to be kept in mind:

  • Confidentiality
  • Integrity
  • Authenticity

Firstly, the confidentiality of the information must be maintained i.e., information must not be accessible to any unauthorized entity. Secondly, the integrity of the information must be preserved i.e., only authorized personnel should be allowed to modify the information. Lastly, the authenticity of both the sender and receiver of the information must be checked.

Information Security Program

Several organizations maintain an information security program to set standards for information security within the organization. These programs are formulated by organizations to ensure accuracy, security, and protection of information within the organization. These programs prevent and protect against any threat and hazard towards the security of the information related to the organization.

These programs help design guidelines towards the information security of the organization. These guidelines include the strength of the security policies and measures, the tools and information security software being used to monitor security, recognizing the potential threats to the organizational security, and the effectiveness of the risk management program or software deployed by the organization.

What is Information Security Software

As discussed earlier, information security software essentially consists of two different software components, namely the database security software and the network security software.

Database security software will include all necessary software implementations that prevent a database from unauthorized scanning or theft of information from the database. A typical database security software will include features that help in establishing authenticity, auditing, access control, encryption and integrity control of the database. All of the above are separate software components but when to put together, they form the basic part of an information security software viz the database security software.

The major part of a network security software is the detection and prevention of intrusion from unauthorized personnel or entities on a network. These again may include a number of different software components such as network monitoring software, firewalls, encryption software, vulnerability scanning software, antivirus software, intrusion detection systems, packet sniffers, application specific scanners and many more.


Basic Security For Your PC

All personal computers with internet access should be protected from security risks. This article gives an overview of types of attack and countermeasures.

All personal computers with internet access should be protected from security risks. These risks vary from malware downloads to phishing attacks. The former can be defeated using the software, the latter relies on a variety of deceptive confidence tricks that are referred to as “social engineering”.

Computer Security Software

The software side of things is the easier of the two. The major commercial brands will attempt to convince you that buying subscription services is the best way to secure your PC but there are many free options which are just as effective.

Those solutions that are free for personal use are often products targeted at corporate customers, by giving a free service to users at home the companies can boast that they are helping to secure more PCs generally which makes the entire internet safer as a by-product.

These free packages often have premium versions that can be paid for but their core services are always free to the personal user. They should run invisibly in the background only alerting you when they have found infection attempts or when they have automatically updated.

Security software comes in two main varieties an anti-virus which scans your computer for existing infection and software firewalls which attempt to stop malware from even getting onto your computer in the first place. Searching the internet for anti-virus or firewalls free for personal use will usually yield results. Read the sites carefully and always look for reviews of products to check that they are suitable before you install them.

Phishing and Social Engineering Attacks

The second type of security risk is the phishing or social engineering attack. There is no software that can protect you from these attacks as they rely on deception to get you, the user, to lower your defenses and give away personal information or download suspicious programs.

The criminals who write and distribute malware have a number of techniques at their disposal to convince people they are legitimate. At the most basic level copying, the layout of an official website is a task that is relatively easy to accomplish. Most people are aware of basic checks to make sure that they are looking at the real page for their bank or for their account page with an internet retailer. Although it is easy to disguise the look of the page the address in the address bar is far harder to spoof.

Unfortunately, criminals can also harvest personal details from you while you visit the real sites you wish to go to. They do this by first getting you to visit a site they own that can trail your activity after the visit and send them the details of your entries into any forms you fill in thereafter. These “scripts” are almost always only able to continue until you restart your internet browser and never survive a computer reboot.

Spotting Malware and Popular Internet Scams

You can often tell by the “feel” of a page whether it is likely to be legitimate or not. If you are not a regular internet user then you can also download “plugins” for your browser that earmark search results and give you indicators and warnings of possibly dangerous sites. These browser security plugins are effective but cannot be expected to work 100% of the time unless you also take the time to look carefully at the sites you are visiting.

In the last couple of years, a popular social engineering attack has been the “fake anti-virus” attack. Malware programs appear on your system without warning, they masquerade as anti-virus software and often put up warnings of bogus infections discovered on your system. They always demand credit card payments to remove the “infections”.

As these programs are actually classified as malware themselves special software tools must be used to remove them. Often these programs can be downloaded for free online and full instructions for removal can also be found on forums and anti-virus websites. There are many people globally who dedicate a portion of their lives to combating these threats and so information on getting rid of these problems is always plentiful.