how to find if someone is using my computer to surf pornography

Posted on 2004-10-16
Last Modified: 2008-01-09
in the past year, i discovered that my teenage son and his friends surf porn to an excessive amout on his computer.  he swore to quit.  needless to say, they didn't and i found out (i am very computer illiterate).  first by cookies, then by jpeg files, then by history.  each time i confronted my son, he wanted to know how i found out, and who told me how to do it.  he knows that i know nothing about computers, so i told him i read up on it, but really i did it by haphazardly clicking around on my computer.  after each confrontation, the method by which i discovered the porn no longer contained evidence (obviously, some sort of deletion).  i am out of ways to find out what is going on.  these boys, though young, are very smart.  can anyone offer very detailed instructions on other ways to catch them.  i know that the wool is being pulled over my eyes, but until my son is older (17-18yrs) i do not want him to view porn.  so how can i find evidence of porn usage?  
Question by:lordsofacid
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LVL 49

Expert Comment

ID: 12329367
Hmm some what difficult depending on your teenage son's smartness

you can install softwares like netnanny,

Make sure he is working on internet under your vigilence, donot get administrator priveleges so that he doesnot install any program or uninstall parental control programs that you have installed, restrict the number of hrs he is on internet .
These are some of the methods which may or may not work..


Expert Comment

ID: 12329568
If you know which sites they like to go to you can block them at the system level by editing your hosts file.  This will only block them from visiting sites that you know that they're visitng.  It won't stop them from just going to Google and tying XXX and clicking on the first link that they see.

To block using the hosts file follow these steps:
- Click on the Start Button, Click RUN
- Type notepad in the blank and press enter.
- in the Notepad window that pops up click on FILE then click on OPEN...
- in the blank that says File Name (delete the .TXT) type C:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts (if you're on Windows 95, 98, Millennium, or XP) or C:\winNT\system32\drivers\etc\hosts (if you're on Windows NT or Windows 2000).

You are now looking at the hosts file.  You'll see something that looks like this:

# Copyright (c) 1993-1999 Microsoft Corp.
# This is a sample HOSTS file used by Microsoft TCP/IP for Windows.
# This file contains the mappings of IP addresses to host names. Each
# entry should be kept on an individual line. The IP address should
# be placed in the first column followed by the corresponding host name.
# The IP address and the host name should be separated by at least one
# space.
# Additionally, comments (such as these) may be inserted on individual
# lines or following the machine name denoted by a '#' symbol.
# For example:
#          # source server
#              # x client host       localhost

Now in order to block a site you need to add a line beneath the last line (       localhost)  it should look something like this: <tab>

What this will do is reroute requests for the website back to your own computer and give them a blank page.  Another example:  if you wanted to block (I'm not sure why you'd want to block - it's just an example! :-) )

If nothing else it will test his ability as a computer geek (or it will cause him to go to the store and buy magazines like the rest of us did at that age!  - sorry just jokin around, trying to make light of the subject)

Expert Comment

ID: 12329879
You can install 'icra plus' []. It's a content filtering software from 'internet content rating association'. You only need to set the settings once [password protected] and you are done. Doesn't let any porn into your computer.
Here's a partial list of content filtering software:

If, on the other hand, you just want evidence of porn usage, you can try a key logger such as those listed here:

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LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 12330870
Check out

This site has references, links, and purchase links to SEVERAL software packages that can "spy" on the kids activity.   To me, it sounds like you're interested in covert monitoring, rather than outright blocking.    (If you want just "blocking"- see "netnanny" answer above).

I have not used these packages myself, so I cannot recommend a SPECIFIC one; but with the link above, you will be able to see features, price, reviews, and so on.      

Most of the spying applications are VERY easy to install and use.   You should have no problem.

Good luck.


Accepted Solution

cwkhang earned 500 total points
ID: 12331095
hi lordsofacid,
yah..they can delete all the evidence (e.g. cookies, history)..but dun think there r smart to delete wat's in index.dat
giv it a try..perhaps everythins is there (i say mayb)

download WinSpy Index.dat Viewer 2.02


Expert Comment

ID: 12332409
Fisrt off: anybody can modify/delete the Hosts file.

an alternative to all the above:
If you are not using at least windows 2000 upgrade the OS. Then create an administrator account for you and ONLY you, set a decent password. Create a User account for your son. Disable all activeX (or better yet use Mozilla/FireFox Browsers instead of IE)
Install a proxy server, password protect it, and have it log all access. With a proxy server you can also block access to sites you know about.

Being you know he is visting porn sites make sure you have a firewall installed, updated and locked down. Also a visrus scanner is imerative. A popup blocker might also be a good idea.

Expert Comment

ID: 12334674
I would ensure the computer is connected to the internet via a router. Then you could ensure you are the only one who has a password on the router, and you can turn logs on. This will give a list of all the domains visited. It is not totally foolproof - he could turn to using proxies (remote computers which relay all of his internet traffic), and it will not pick up on material stored on a standard domain site e.g. www.geocities....

Better still, never provide the evidence or how you obtained it. You have done it enough now. Just say "I know" and ground the guy :) You might not have a clue or might just be bluffing, but he'll spend ages trying to find out how you worked out instead of downloading dubious images... :)

Expert Comment

ID: 12335612
I'm with cwkhang...MS's dirty little secret does come in handy on occasion! ;-)

Expert Comment

ID: 12342101
blow all of that anybody with any amount of skill can bust it , better bet if your son doesnt have access to the back of the machine is keyghost, logging keystrokes
administrator is way too obvious and she said shes not literate does she want to install everything for them and fix and errors that may occur.
just use the following
then simply set the output to a hidden file in root +H +R +S
if he looks at cables this doesnt work , id suggest you talk with him about porn rather than keep blocking it. forbidden fruit theroy.
if hes got admin , needed to istall and run alot of games ( about 95% of them ) then this is a losing battle on software level can also start in safe mode w network support that wont look to that file.
Firefox is sound advice  
ICRA is a nightmare and not all sites support it.

Expert Comment

ID: 12342116
new profiles are also not pointed to a host file , windows admin can be had any one of a dozen ways just google windows 2000 exploits.

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