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Question: URL monitoring

Chacham (981) writes | about 6 months ago

User Journal 5

I was asked by a not very technical friend, who was asked by another, to help them track where their son is going on the Internet. They are not technical at all, but they suspect their son may be visiting inappropriate websites, and if so, they want to talk to him, but first they want to capture the urls surreptitiously to see if their concerns are valid.

I was asked by a not very technical friend, who was asked by another, to help them track where their son is going on the Internet. They are not technical at all, but they suspect their son may be visiting inappropriate websites, and if so, they want to talk to him, but first they want to capture the urls surreptitiously to see if their concerns are valid.

Well, truthfully, i do not know what to suggest. I searched and found OpenDNS which seems to have some services that allow URL monitoring (no timestamp thopugh). What would you suggest?

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5 comments

Depends on what the device is (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 6 months ago | (#45977123)

For Android, I use Screen Time for this. Records timestamps, time in app, and URL, and reports them to the parental remote control ap on my phone.

Now if I can only get it to load consistently on my son's NABI.

TransParent Proxy (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 6 months ago | (#45977905)

Well, the technical way is http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/TransparentProxy.html [tldp.org] ... which is the way we used to do things back in the IP Masquerading days when we had a Linux box be the dialup gateway for the rest of our LAN. I suppose I'm a bit upset that this isn't a standard feature of most Wifi gateways these days. It's on my to-do list of things to do to monitor my kids when we're not around, and Squid has some nice reporting front-ends, but ultimately it'll just tell you where your kids are going and not necessarily how they're interacting with others online.

But if the kids are on Wifi, just have them install and run a packet capture http://www.wireshark.org/download.html [wireshark.org] to see what they're doing. The downside is you probably don't want to run it for very long since it will likely record just about everything, and nontechnical people probably won't be able to find much of interest by pawing around randomly in the interface, but it's extremely educational to tinker with if they have the patience.

NTOP is a useful tool that falls somewhere in between Wireshark and Squid... it sniffs all network traffic like Wireshark, but is intended to run continuously 24x7 and only records statistics about all the traffic it's seeing. It has a great WebUI more accessible to nontechnical people. -- Don't confuse it with the real-time console app also called "ntop" http://www.ntop.org/products/ntop/ [ntop.org]

So these things might provide better passive monitoring so you know when you need to have "the talk" with your kids, so they can make responsible choices themselves, as opposed to something like OpenDNS content filtering that blocks them and just challenges them to circumvent it anyway.

Re:TransParent Proxy (1)

Chacham (981) | about 6 months ago | (#45977991)

I've got to recommend this to people who are not very technical. My guess is their Windows box is connected directly to a cable modem.

The OpenDNS idea is not to filter, but tor record.

Re:TransParent Proxy (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 6 months ago | (#45982571)

Oh, well, the non-technical way is to just move the computer to the family room where internet use can be monitored, and lock it when the parents aren't around. Not saying it snidely... it's actually pretty good parenting.

Maybe the next level is teaching them about Ctrl-H so they can view the browser history... assuming the kids haven't figured out incognito mode yet. But that should be a good start until they're ready for the next step in the arms race. But maybe after that try installing ntop for Windows and see if it's straightforward to teach them to look at it.

Good luck!

Re:TransParent Proxy (1)

Chacham (981) | about 6 months ago | (#45984867)

I'm told the kid is comfortable with the computer. Also, he is a teenager, so he likely gets around when his parents are not.

They suspect that he might be having an issue. They want to verify before taking any action.

I might give more advice later, but first step is to help them check out if their fears are true.

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