Pratum Blog

I talk to a lot of people who are scared to death about what their kids can say, do, see and hear online these days. I'm one of them. My wife has stated on several occasions that she's glad I'm in the profession I am with 4 kids under the roof. Now hopefully they'll be more technology savvy than I one day, but until then "Big Brother" will be watching and usually one step ahead.

So how is a parent who's, let's say…technology challenged, supposed to keep tabs on the online habits of their kids? Easy…don't let them go to the public library. The library is a free for all when it comes to online information. Many of the librarians associated with the ALA balk at any sort of restrictions placed on internet usage, regardless of the patron's age. In fact, in Iowa, a parent currently is prohibited BY LAW from seeing the book loan history or website visits of their minor children. PERIOD! I'm working to change that but could use some help. If you are interested send me a note or post a comment. But I digress…

So how can a parent check up on their kids? I've got a few suggestions. Some might seem a bit Draconian so pick and choose what suits you and your family's culture.

  1. Install a keystroke logger. This nifty application records every keystroke made by the keyboard and compiles a log for you to read.

    • Pros: Captures everything (almost), hidden in the background so kids might not even know it's there.

    • Cons: Captures everything. You might have to do some skimming or filtering. Can be defeated by "online" keyboards, and other tricks.

  2. Install web filtering software which has Deny and Allow functionality. You can "deny all except…" or "allow all but….". There are services which update these lists.

    • Pros: Pretty effective for giving some freedom within reason, relatively unobtrusive

    • Cons: Usually has a subscription fee, can be thwarted with a proxy or Microsoft's new Bing browser.

  3. Get familiar with the index.dat file. It's a database of web history for Internet Explorer. Even after deleting your history and cache files this little nugget of gold holds basic web browsing history FOREVER!

    • Pros: Has the basic web history for a given user account logged in to Windows.

    • Cons: You'll need a free viewer like Mandiant's Web Historian to decode the file. This only is good for a user account.

  4. Setup user accounts for each child on your comptuers and explain to them that if they share passwords with each other or their friends, they will be held accountable for anything that happens under their account…just like you are at work.

    • Pros: Helps them establish personal responsibility, isolates actions which can be traced back to the child.

    • Cons: Isn't always easy to control on multiple computers without a centralized server. Better used when the child only accesses one computer.

Like I said…you might not like all of these suggestions but maybe one of them fits your family's value system. Whatever the case maybe, parents need to get a little comfortable with doing some digital forensics on their home computer. Most of us wouldn't have a problem snooping in our kid's bedroom if we thought something was up. Why not carry that over to their digital lives as well?

If you are a parent out there and want some help with this subject PLEASE contact me. Whether you simply want to talk about some options, want to learn more about the technology or would like me to come speak to a group of parents about this subject, I'm always available.

The NEbraska Cert Conference (NECC) will be hosted in Omaha on August 18th and 19th. I'll be presenting a session entitled Working with IT Auditors: A Recipe for Success. In short the session will cover the following topics.

  • An overview of the IT audit process

  • Roles and responsibilities during an audit

  • Building a partnership with IT auditors

  • Working toward a win-win scenario

  • Audit killers and savers

The NECC registration is only $250 and is a good value if you're looking to build some CPE credits. You'll be hard pressed to find a conference or other training at that price. It's also a great way to build some networking contacts in the region. Hope to see you there.

So I decided to give the heavy, thought invoking posts a break for a day or two.

The battery on my phone is giving me problems. Won't hold a charge for more than 24 hours and that's without much talk time or the Bluetooth and WiFi radios turned on. I looked online and seems a new battery will cost about $45. Not bad, but my AT&T Tilt (HTC 8925) is nearly two years old now and phones just don't last much over three years with daily use. I take really good care of my equipment so other than the battery there's not really anything wrong with it. Other than it being thick and a bit heavy it works great and does everything I need.

So…My options are…

  1. Buy a battery and hope nothing else goes wrong in the next year.

  2. Upgrade to another WinMo phone, most likely another HTC product

  3. Upgrade to an iPhone (hold your applause)

  4. Pour another glass of lemonade and ponder the meaning of life in a hammock on the beach…

Let's hear your opinion…


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