Internet Security – Protecting Your Family

Posted by kypoth-Alex on Sep 17, 2009 in Online Security |

If you have children, you should be concerned if they’re using the web. Just remember, the internet is the big, bad world and it’s all just a click away. If you wouldn’t be happy with your kids going to a nightclub in town on their own for the night, then you shouldn’t let them have unrestricted access to the internet.

Don’t allow computers in their bedrooms, put them in a common area. This way you can monitor what’s on screen – pass through the area nonchalantly every now and then. You can install safe-surfing programs (called ‘net nannies’) that restrict access to certain kinds of content but these are limited in that websites have to classify their data for these programs, and whilst the responsible members of the adult industry sign up to this, there’s also an awful lot of irresponsible sites out there. Certain types of communication are pretty difficult to ‘part allow’ – i.e. you can’t let them just chat to their friends. If they can chat, they can do it with the whole world. You can chat through websites too, so unfortunately uninstalling Microsoft Messenger won’t prevent it.

So it’s important to talk to them, find out what they’re doing. You can always claim the dumb parent trick and ask them to show you how to do it – this should at least break the ice and then you can drop in the questions about who, what, when, etc. It’s more than likely just chat between school friends but anyone and everyone has access to the web so warn them of the dangers. They’re not mature enough to make entirely wise decisions (who is?!) and could be easily tricked by those with underhand intentions.

Also be wary of illegal filesharing – by which I mean downloading music or movies that you haven’t paid for. Music can be obtained from iTunes, Napster, etc. perfectly legally and you pay for each track downloaded, but look out for file-sharing apps like Limewire, Ares, Kazaa, BearShare and bitTorrent (there are lots of others). The downloaded files are a haven for malicious software (viruses, etc.), so it’s a good way to infect your computer. I once worked for a well known record company that had two guys that sat on the internet all day long filling the illegal filesharing areas with poor quality data. Not viruses, just tracks with high pitched noises, etc. in an effort to dilute the ‘good’ stuff and make it more tiresome for sharers to download.

Cinema-release blockbuster movies aren’t available for legal download anywhere. There is one site called CinemaNow, which is the only legal Hollywood distribution network, but I’m afraid it’s all old and straight-to-TV movies on there so looks like the industry doesn’t really support the concept. They want you to buy the DVD if you want your own copy, so any full films or TV series on a computer are more than likely illegal.

The same applies to pirated video games which can be downloaded, burnt onto DVD or special cartridges and played in a console (instructions for doing this are freely available on the net, so anyone can be doing it, especially your average tech-savvy teenager).

Don’t forget it’s the parent who’s responsible and you’ll be the one in court or facing a massive fine.

Have a look at these sites for more security info…
Microsoft Family Security
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (a UK Government Agency)
CEOP also have a sub site, “think u know” which contains good info for internet-baffled parents

CyberPatrol Parental Controls

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