How you can monitor what your children see through their online - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

How you can monitor what your children see through their online gaming systems

By Andy Wise - bio | email

The FREE online service to control & monitor content on every device connected to your wireless router is www.opendns.com. Open DNS also offers upgraded versions at additional cost.

A loophole linking wireless networks and online gaming allows children to surf pornography or other objectionable content on the Wii, Nintendo DSI or Sony PlayStation 3 gaming consoles.

"Virtually any (gaming console) you can get now has a web browser on it," said Jeff Horton, owner of One Point Solutions Group of Germantown, TN (http://www.onepointsg.com/), a network security auditing company. "And you can get to anything out there, completely unfiltered."

The access is unfiltered particularly if you don't have a password-protected and properly encrypted wireless (Wi-Fi) network.

"I can't believe you can do that," said Germantown's Laurie Haddow, a parent of a teenager and a pre-teen who are avid gamers on the Wii. "And parents are clueless because they don't speak technology."

Horton recommended parents upgrade their Wi-Fi protection, including the installation of Open DNS's web-based security system.

Used by Horton's commercial clients to monitor their employees' online behavior while at work, Open DNS acts as a filter installed on your wireless router. It keeps a record of every attempt to access anything from any device connected to that router's network - computer, smart phone or gaming console.

Horton said the free version can store up to three months of data, all on a log that the user can access online.

Open DNS can also be customized to block up to 30 categories of objectionable content, or it can be programmed to block specific web sites.

"It can be anything from lingerie and swim wear to violence and hate speech," Horton said.

The one drawback to Open DNS:  it only filters and monitors what's going through the Wi-Fi network it's programmed to patrol. If someone in the house figures out how to piggy-back another unprotected Wi-Fi network in the area, all bets are off.

"Kids are very tricky. They know how to get around things, so they'll connect their Wii to the neighbor's Wi-Fi," said James F. Ruffer III (Twitter: @jruffer), a Memphis-based "ethical computer hacker" and security consultant. "And now, they're able to have full access to see whatever they want. They're not being regulated by Mom or Dad."

Which is why Mom and Dad are still the best gate-keepers of the family's Wi-Fi router.

"We need to protect ourselves from ourselves," Haddow said. 

Copyright 2011 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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