Some Initial Thoughts on Security

So earlier I saw this article posted on Facebook and that got me thinking about protecting my family in a connected world.  I'm going to try to explore that idea here.  Today I'm going to list some of the tools that I use in my home and family and then I'll try to come back and expand on each one in later posts (but no promises).  Some of these are tools that I have used for years and some are new tools that I am just learning.

OpenDNS

DNS is a computer's version of a phone book.  So, you type in chrisdailey.net into your computer and DNS tells your computer what the address of chrisdailey.net is out on the internet.  OpenDNS is a free service that will do two things.  First, it tends to be faster than most DNS services.  Second, it allows you to either use their basic set of filters or create an account and choose your own.  Once your filters are setup the DNS servers at OpenDNS will return the right address for chrisdailey.net, but redirect you to a blocked message if you try to go to sites-the-kids-shouldnt-see.com.

The best part about OpenDNS is that they have guides that will walk you though making the changes at your home's router so all of the computers and devices using your home network are covered. OpenDNS has free and paid services, but most homes whould only need the free account.

 Mobile Device Manager by 3CX

Mobile Device Management is a tool usually used by companies to configure and secure company-owned mobile devices, and this tool is no different.  You can use the website to create profiles, manage the applications that are installed, allowed, or blocked, track a device's location, or remotely lock or wipe the device.  Once the profile and information is setup you put the app on your phone and it checks in with the server to make sure everything on the device complies with the profile.

The big advantage of 3CX over most of these tools is that they offer a family-oriented account for free to manage up to 5 devices.  That let's me setup a fairly open profile for Mom and Dad's phone and a restricted profile with only approved apps and setup for the kids' phones. I can see where a phone has been, the call log, and other random bits of information.

kytephone

Kytephone is a pretty cool find.  This free app lets you setup Kid's Mode on a mobile device (yours or theirs).  With Kid's Mode you can specify what apps they can see and use, what contacts they can call and receive calls from, and sync any pictures taken with the online account for review.  You can also set some basic time limits on playing games.  All of this information is synced with an online account for review and management (not to mention phone tracking).  The best part - all for free! (Android support only)

kytetime

Kytetime is the next step up from the makers of kytephone.  This is more for the older kids and is less about controlling what your kids can do and more about monitoring what they are doing.  You can setup some basic controls to block when an app can be accessed by specifying school time and bedtime and then setting some basic rules for each app.  Kytetime will then give you a report on what apps they are using, what websites they are visiting, where they are, where they have been, and who they've been talking to.  The service is $5/month or $40/year for unlimited devices. (Android support only)

Of course, none of these are a substitute for teaching your kids about phone safety and talking to them about what is going on in their lives, but they are great tools to reinforce what you discuss.

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