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Government advice: Browse safely with Microsoft

Rory Cellan-Jones | 08:46 UK time, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Today is Safer Internet Day and in the UK, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) is promoting two ideas to make the web more secure for children. The first is an animated film aimed at helping children aged five to seven to stay safe - Ceop says eight in 10 of them now use the internet. The second is a joint initiative with Microsoft.

The software giant has produced a special Ceop-flavoured version of its web browser Internet Explorer 8 which will give parents and children easy access to advice and information. Microsoft came to the government body with the idea and the browser will be promoted on the Ceop site and as an option when you download IE8 in the UK.

Screengrab of Ceop site

Once the browser is installed, users will have a Ceop button on their toolbar, enabling them to seek help or even report abuse. A spokeswoman for Ceop explained that the browser didn't include any filtering system - she said they weren't very effective - so a child would still be able to visit any sites if parents hadn't used another blocking method.

This may well be a useful tool for parents, but it also looks like great marketing for a browser which has had some bad publicity lately and has lost some of its dominance to the likes of Firefox and Google's Chrome. Ceop insists that as a public-sector body, it can't direct people to one commercial product - but is warm in its endorsement of Microsoft's efforts. "We work very closely with Microsoft," the spokeswoman told me."They have been ahead of thinking in this area."

Last year Ceop reached a deal which saw Bebo agree to use its abuse-reporting button - and then lambasted other social networks which refused to follow suit. This time, the organisation is being more diplomatic, with its boss Jim Gamble saying: "[W]e look forward to working with other browser developers to make an even safer online environment for our children."

Google says it has been talking to Ceop and "we're working together to help them make a Ceop browser extension available for Google Chrome users". Apple wasn't clear whether there had yet been talks about a similar extension for its Safari browser - IE8 isn't available to Mac or Linux users - but stressed that parental controls were built into its whole operating system. And since there are already hundreds of extensions for the open-source Firefox browser, built by third-party developers, it should be easy to provide a child-safety plug-in.

But open-source campaigners are concerned that Ceop has been just a little too eager to promote the Microsoft solution.

"Microsoft have scored a publicity hit for a little cost," Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group told me. "It's important that Ceop doesn't persuade people to use a single browser, particularly one which has had a history of security lapses causing other threats to home users."

Microsoft has a good record in helping to promote safe internet use in schools and homes - and Ceop is working hard to educate parents and children about internet safety. But despite government pledges to promote the use of open-source software in the public sector, it seems most official bodies still see Windows as the natural choice for any project. And that means open-source government is still a distant prospect.


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  • Comment number 1.

    As a parent of rwo children (ages 5yrs and 9yrs) I believe it is my responsibility as a parent to know what they're doing online. Apart from the filtering software that comes with my firewall (Astaro), they have supervised and limited time online. We use Linux at home so are immune to most of the online threats such as Viri and spyware.

    I also thought that the reason the "other" social networking sites rejected this collaberation was because they didn't want to promote the single CEOP route to reporting this kind of problem?

    Anyway, as for the "online safety for 5 yr olds", the government can shove that where the sun does not shine. My son does not need to know about the bad things in the world, he's only a baby still and needs some level of innocence to be maintained a little longer thank you.

  • Comment number 2.

    Whoops, "As a parent of rwo children" "As a parent of TWO children" .. sorry!

  • Comment number 3.

    No offence meant, badger_fruit - but if you want your child to 'maintain his innocence' by shielding him from the world then I question whether he'll grow up to be a well rounded individual.

    The truth of the matter is that young people - yes, even as young as 5 - will use technology, and will use the internet. If these things make the web a safer place for those kids that *do* engage with it then what's the problem?

    You're free to raise your kids in whatever way you want to - but for those of us who *want* to allow our kids to grow up engaging with this stuff from an early age, teaching them of the dangers and giving them a safe place to engage is essential and appealing.

    At the end of the day - the world can be a really horrible place. Deal with it - and then focus on the good stuff.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well my kids use Firefox on Ubuntu. There are parental controls available, both in extensions and I could do content filtering, whitelisting etc in the Squid proxy. I don't. The correct place to install a content filter is on the other side of the eyeballs. This is technology to solve a non-technical issue.

  • Comment number 5.

    There's a terrific, free, bit of software called BlueCoat K9 Webfilter, which unlike most paid filters, is fast, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. I use it on all our PCs at home (several used by kids), and it blocks everything we want it to, logs everything it blocks, and its FREE! Just google the name.

  • Comment number 6.

    We use Macs in our house and this enables me to set up parental controls for my daughter's account. This not only allows me to restrict websites, emails and chat but also provides logs so I can check where she has been browsing. If she wants to chat with a new friend or receive or send an email to someone new, the system checks with me first so I can authorise or decline.

    It is very simple and works well. Of course it is not possible to control MSN in the same way. Shame really.

    She understands this and understands why. As she becomes more responsible and aware I can relax the controls. That way she is becoming alert to the dangers and asks permission when accessing websites she is unsure of.


  • Comment number 7.

    I find it helps to read "CEOP" as "Jim Gamble's PR team"; they always seem to be about his personal promotion and not about actually doing anything useful. As we covered last time CEOP's button came up it doesn't really do much, and CEOP have consistently demonstrated a degree of technical ignorance that should be enough to stop anyone listening to them. This time around it's not linking a 'Find Madelaine' button to a porn site, but we do have Jim Gamble saying how they "look forward to working with other browser developers".

    As we all know, Firefox, Chrome et al. support third party extensions. If CEOP really wanted to provide a button they could have done it themselves already. They haven't. They're not interested in substance, just in getting the PR splash from having a website, or a browser company, or someone else that can get them headlines, coming out in support of them. Simply getting on with doing the job themselves wouldn't do that, so they don't bother.

  • Comment number 8.

    Come on guys, let’s not rely on software to look after our kids for us. The only way to be sure what our children are doing on-line is to interact with them more! Talk to them, make sure the PC is in the sitting room, and explain the dangers without scaring them. Sure, the Internet can be dangerous, but let’s not scare them with talk about filters. It’s our job to look after our kids, not software’s job (and that’s coming from a software engineer).

  • Comment number 9.

    To 3

    I'm tired of listening to such the "liberal" rubbish. It is an obligation of a parent to protect a five year old and maintain, if possible, his innocence. A parent that isn't ready to protect a five year olds innocence, quite clearly,is not a suitable person to be a parent.

  • Comment number 10.

    We can protect our children from some aspects of adult life without shielding them from life completely. We can explain to them that they mustn't get into a stranger's car without giving them the details of what might happen to them.

    The fundamental problem here is that parents who actually take the time to be parents know what stage their children have reached, and can tailor internet access to suit their own child's maturity level, understanding etc - this will inevitably be far better than anything a centralised quango can muster. Parents who take no interest in their child aren't going to bother downloading something just because it says CEOP on it, if the internet is nothing more than a cheap childminder why would they want to install anything that might mean they had to take some action once in a while?

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm only echoing a few previous sentiments here, but technology shouldn't be relied upon to supervise what a child does, or doesn't, see on the web. Experience should have taught us by now that children need a physical, mature, presence to guide them; this sort of remote parenting is a tool that should never replace someone sitting with them.

  • Comment number 12.

    In my opinion, this piece is now outdated !

    Any child with a mobile phone can now access the internet on it for just £2 per week (unless you take the trouble to buy them one of the very few mobile phones which cannot show internet content - such as the Nokia 1661), by buying themselves a free Pay as you Go sim card, and then subscribing to GPRS.

    Which means that even if your 10 year old boy cannot access the internet himself, and you monitor him, little Jonny will be sharing unlimited internet access with him on Jonny's phone in the playground behind the bike shed.

    And unlimited internet access means unlimited hate, misinformation and the hardest pornography, together with all the good parts of the internet (Wikipedia, learning sites, etc).

    Our children are going to be growing up in a world where their innocence is plucked away at a very, very young age.

    I greatly fear for the world in 20 years.

  • Comment number 13.

    "Our children are going to be growing up in a world where their innocence is plucked away at a very, very young age."

    Step up and open your eyes - being a good parent should be about educating your child and instilling good moral values *in spite* or what's out there - not hiding it from them.

    I agree - technology shouldn't be the answer. Good parenting is the answer. This bit of technology is a tool to *help* good parents get better when it comes to the online world. Not every parent knows much about technology...

  • Comment number 14.

    CEOP really should be hiring a developer to create browser buttons for Firefox and Chrome, if they are being serious about what they claim to be. Just offering Internet Explorer 8 is not enough, and this is up to CEOP to change. Firefox and Chrome both have Extension systems available to them, so there really is absolutely no excuse for CEOP not to build these.

    Internet Safety Day is no different to stranger danger. With a child in my extended family that has been groomed online, I can tell you, it is critical today to make sure you know exactly who your child is online to, speaking to, and when.

  • Comment number 15.

    Ah, yes. This sounds about as much use as a chocolate tea-pot.

    And, sheer stupidity giving Microsoft the publicity.

    One of the best things you can do for kids that are going online is install an ad-blocking filter. Then, when they do get exposed to inappropriate material, it is your responsibility as a parent to talk to them, and help them learn from the experience.

    The way these cretins from CEOP go on, you'd think there was child porn, or other hardcore porn, on every second web page. Perhaps we should be investigating their browsing habits if this is what they think the Internet is like.

    My monster will be thirteen this year; and, yes, he's been getting online since about age four. I suspect he's now better equipped to deal with just about anything you find online than the people at CEOP.

    Mind you, in the last eighteen months or so, I've taught him how to bypass school "netnannying" filters, how to retrieve his email without some nosey official grabbing his password. He could even circumvent the Internet Watch Foundation's blacklist without breaking a sweat.

    CEOP get stuffed; you have no right to tell us to raise little productive sheep-cum-consumerdroids. "A little bit censorship" is, to me, synonymous with "a little bit pregnant".

  • Comment number 16.

    "IE8 is not available to Mac or Linux users" You make that sound like a bad thing. Whatever makes you think we'd want it?

  • Comment number 17.

    I really don't understand why anyone would need to use software to protect their children online. Windows provides this functionality out of the box - and has done since Windows 2000. Yes it is a bit geeky, but search for the windows hosts file and you'll be enlightened.

    Secondly, anyone who lets a five year old online without supervision needs to rethink their own values...

  • Comment number 18.

    It drives me mad to hear about thee things! I think too that it is the job of the folks to make sure that the kids are not being exposed to anything that is not good!

    I play xbox a lot and it bugs the heck out of me when i am playing a 18+ game and there are little kids playing, what the heck of the folks letting them play those types of game.

    Mushroom_snake I agree with you so much, I don't have kids yet, but i know that I was shows right from wrong when i was young. You cant hide them away from life, you have to teach them about life.

  • Comment number 19.

    One option for filtering internet content is to use "OpenDNS". This is (currently) a free service - you can find it on the web - that has a community generated database categorising websites for different content types. By it's nature it won't ever be completely up-to-date, and it can't protect against everything, but it allows parents to monitor usage and block categories and specific websites that they think are inappropriate, including pornography, hate, violence, drugs etc. I think it's so useful that Rory - I'd suggest you do a piece on it.

  • Comment number 20.

    Anyone who wants to stop their children doing silly things online needs to reaquaint themselves with the shutdown procedure and cutting the power to the computer.

    Leave politically correct marketing nonsense like Ceop that provides advertising for Microsoft behind. 'IE8 isn't available for'........ It sounds like you've been fed the standard marketing spiel rather than writing for yourself. Less and less people give a stuff about IE these days for very good reasons. An incredibly stupid initiative like this won't make those reasons go away and it won't magically make IE safer to use.

    It just shows how much in bed our government is that they'll spend taxpayer's money on incredible embarrassing and ineffective ways to make IE and Microsoft look better. I get uncomfortable when children are used as a marketing tool.

  • Comment number 21.

    I find it staggering that a Government funded organisation is in bed with Microsoft. Even worse the solution does nothing to protect kids!!

    The Government should insist that publicly funded groups provide cross platform, browser independent solution in future.

  • Comment number 22.

    Oh no! The dirty internet monster is going to molest my kids! Lordy!

    I'll buy your best Microsoft Parent-4-U program please.. only £99.99.. a bargain if it keeps peadophiles away and parents my child for me.

    ... give me a break. Pull your finger out and actually "Parent" your child. Teach them about the internet just like your meant to teach them about the outside world. Here's an idea, teach your child about the wonders of the internet, how it helps people and the wealth of knowledge it posesses.

  • Comment number 23.

    We use OpenDNS to filter all activity on our home network. Occasionally we supplement this by blocking specific domains at the router if required. We give our son his own user account on our Mac which is carefully controlled, giving him access only to the applications we want him to use.

    Most important of all, the computer sits in a part of the house where it is very visible and always easy to check exactly what he's looking at with a quick glance. Parental responsibility is precisely that. I have no intention of delegating it to Microsoft or anyone else.

  • Comment number 24.

    I work in computer security, and even I have some problems finding and configuring the right tools for my children. There are basically two options:

    An exclusion list which bars known dodgy sites - but these lists are never up to date.

    An inclusion list whic means they can only browse known safe sites - but these lists of sites give a very very limiting experience.

    I have one tool which bars things like google images and tries do so some bad word filtering. And this is effective to a degree, but I have to turn this off when my 12 year old is doing his homework.

    Basically, the tools out there for the ordinary family are not good enough.

    Incidentally, one thing I have installed is something which captures what my children have been doing. It was interesting to see that my 12 year old had created a BBC ID with his real age (12), and had then used a separate email address to pretend he was his (own) parent so he could verify the ID. Kids are smarter than you think.

  • Comment number 25.

    ooh I see the anti M$ mob are out least M$ had the foresight to approach the government body to suggest this...unlike other software firms...and after all it is just another useful tool in the arsenal to protect your kids which should be used alongside parental guidance and blocking software.

  • Comment number 26.

    I agree that as a parent the best supervision of all is to know your children well, warn them about pop-up's, have a virus checker and firewall active and generally keep an eye on their computer habits. I worry that without the above half the nation's teenage boys are downloading all kinds of explicit content, some of them then thinking what they see portrayed must be an ok way to behave. Re the Mac lovers, I think you will find that as market share increases Mac's too will be a target for hackers - they are not as some think immune. In fact whereas PC users normally have virus checkers smug Mac owners usually don't. Watch this space on that one. Re using extensions on other browsers, as these could be written by anyone, including the hackers themselves, I wouldn't regard then ok until they were tried and tested (by other users!). Also in terms of "free" advertising for we've just had weeks of BBC hype re the Apple iPad and Google are always flavour of the month - even when trying to gain exclusive rights to half the worlds books!

  • Comment number 27.

    TrustedFriend_Com @12And unlimited internet access means unlimited hate, misinformation and the hardest pornography

    You clearly have no idea what you're spouting off about. UK mobile providers all filter 'adult' material from mobile internet connections until or unless the customer can prove that they're over eighteen. Vodafone call their system 'Content Control', but the others all have something similar. Maybe you could try looking up some facts?

    On the "IE8 isn't available to Mac or Linux users" comment, I think the people having a pop at Rory are slightly missing the point. I read that as a short version of what people have been saying in this thread; CEOP aren't serious about this, otherwise they wouldn't have done this for a single browser for a single platform.

  • Comment number 28.

    Im a father of two as well as being a software developer and author working mainly on projects for Microsoft.

    It is my opinion that parents seem all to keen to rely upon software companies to protect their children. Yes there are parental controls built in and options to report misuse are now available in the browser, this is all very good and welcome but please dont forget whos children they are!

    For me, Rory has been a little misleading with his post, this is not about Microsoft and IE. Sure Microsoft get a little free publicity and that always helps but this story is about prtecting vulnerable children from the threats posed on the internet and I for one are glad that Microsoft are helping.

    The question thats not been raised here is "What are 5 year old children doing on the internet anyway?" Do you think that by letting your small child loose on the web that they will be the next Bill Gates? Do you think it will help them with their school work? Perhaps you think it will help them make friends? Im sorry but if you think these things then you are sadly mistaken.

    If you want your child to grow up to be a technical genius then spend some time with them, read them a book and give them a good education. If you want to help them with their homework, then buy them a book, help them with their work and spend time with them. If you want them to make friends, get them to join a club, take them outside and meet people.

    The internet provides me with a living, and a very good one at that, but it is not the answer to the worlds problems. It does not make you clever and harldy ever makes anyone rich!

    5 year old children do not need the internet, they need to learn to read and write, they need to play outside and they need to have a childhood that gives them the basis for a happy and sucsessful life.

  • Comment number 29.

    Mmmm - Microsoft and HM Government will protect my children - please. These are the same people who leave security lapses in their browsers for years (MS) and who think it is acceptable to waste taxpayers money on Trident, Nimrod and now 2 x Aircraft Carriers.

    Are we in the twilight zone already. Trust together with Government and Microsoft are oxymorons!!

  • Comment number 30.

    I was going to say I despair about what we have become, but thankfully my faith has been restored by reading the entirely sensible comments above. I am pleased to read, for example, that badger_fruit realises that looking after his kids is his responsibility as a parent. To read some of the stories about CEOP, you would think that parents have nothing to do with looking after their kids in the 21st century and that CEOP is the sole guardian of child safety.

    How refreshing to see that there are at least some who haven't fallen for it. I particularly liked _Ewan_'s comments at #7: I totally agree that CEOP seems far more about self-publicity than about actually doing anything useful.

  • Comment number 31.

    James Rigby wrote:

    "Incidentally, one thing I have installed is something which captures what my children have been doing. It was interesting to see that my 12 year old had created a BBC ID with his real age (12), and had then used a separate email address to pretend he was his (own) parent so he could verify the ID. Kids are smarter than you think."

    Although, as you point out, you should not underestimate what children on the internet know how to do, it is also all too easy to OVER estimate their knowledge and abilities and for them to get into trouble in the process.

    My kids and their friends seem to know every dodgy website out there, and the only reason my computers are not riddled with viruses, Trojans and all kinds of spy-ware and malware is because I take the trouble to make sure it does not happen.

    There is also a growing culture among some supposedly bright kids that says that parents put all this security rubbish on their computers because that is what stupid parents do. The risks, they say, are exaggerated way too much. I see that with some of the work I do in web communities - the supposedly well clued up teens seem to fall for phishing, dangerous links and so on far more than anyone else.

    Several of my friends, have found their machines compromised because "little johnny" thought he knew everything about computers and the internet and then clicked on the "naked lady this way" link without a second thought.

  • Comment number 32.

    Since when was teaching your kids about things not enough? Why should technology have to raise your kids for you?

    This attitude is pervasive amongst modern parents, and I find it shameful, when I was growing up, certain channels on the television weren't blocked, my parents told me what I was allowed to watch. There wasn't a time limit on how long I could play a games console, my parents taught me about balancing my time between school and leisure activities. I turned out just fine, and no piece of technology ever had a hand in my upbringing, and I dare say the mere minutes my parents spent explaining these simple things to me were not such a massive burden that we should all be rushing to find ways to raise our kids in absentia to save time.

  • Comment number 33.

    When did kids stop being born with common sense?

    "Stop, look, listen", and "Don't speak to strangers" were enough to get me safely to adulthood.

  • Comment number 34.

    "Our children are going to be growing up in a world where their innocence is plucked away at a very, very young age."

    lol. So like... always, then? Face it, most kids look up skirts or try to peek in the opposite sex changing room at the swimming baths pretty young. They're not innocent. Pretending that they are innocent and skipping through parenting singing "Lalalala!" because you want a little angel of supercuteness who blows happy bubbles out of his/her nose will do more damage to our children than actually telling them about the world... and maybe letting them experience it, with proper safety controls. So long as we accept that those safety controls won't always work. And be prepared to help them understand when they don't.

    After all, all the safety equipment didn't stop my mate Ian, when I was a kid, from breaking half his face when he fell off his bike at 11.

  • Comment number 35.

    "This time around it's not linking a 'Find Madelaine' button to a porn site"

    Bebo is a porn site? Really?

  • Comment number 36.

    I use AOL at home, together with other security software. My daughter (8) has her own internet account on the computer but this is restricted - the times and the sites she can visit are clearly defined by using a combination of the three tools - the internet provider, the security software and the windows software.

    The key thing though is that her internet time is supervised. If she wishes to visit a particular site, we talk about it, we look at the site together and we make a decision together, so that if we decide not to allow her to use the site, she knows why. As she gets older the restrictions will be relaxed - but she already knows the basic rules - DON'T give out your full name / address / where you do your hobbies.
    ALWAYS check with me first

    And those rules are better than anything a QUANGO could impose. We need the reporting tool - but either make it universal - so that every browser has a button - or stop promoting some sites over others.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hi I agree with shashman OpenDNS is the way to go, We use this for the children's OLPC so when it gets it IP credentials from the DHCP server its given the opendns DNS server but the office machines and other laptops dont.

    As to the poster who "trained" his child to get round the filters, If the PC is on a school network he isn't getting round it he just thinks he is and at some point will be barred from the network. School filtering is in most cases done at the ISP end not the schools.

    But the telling words are "Microsoft came to the government body with the idea" yeah , could that be because IE is falling in popularity ? and "They have been ahead of thinking in this area." no , they are behind. and "A spokeswoman for Ceop explained that the browser didn't include any filtering system - she said they weren't very effective" well some filtering or the abilty to link to a blacklist is better than NONE

    and finally the strapline "Internet Explorer 8 Click Clever, Click Safe, Click CEOP" is at best missleading, all it realy is a link to CEOP nothing more or less.


  • Comment number 38.

    Auqakuh @35

    Did you read the previous thread on

  • Comment number 39.

    Well informed parents, and internet users will already have a solution for child safety on the internet. It's been around for a little while now.

    This is all about those who are not well informed, and it is very good in that respect. There is no complusion element, so no reason why anyone with Microsoft is evil, and Government is instrusive mindsets to complain.

    This gives assistance to every single parent, if they choose to listen. If only one parent does, and only one child is saved from the criminal activities of one of the tiny number of predators, its done its job.

  • Comment number 40.

    Ok, I'm no parent, but I've got young cousins and a young goddaughter. The limit of what I'd use a lot of these software filters for would be having the disc as a coaster.

    I've seen those packages that my friend's parents thought were unbreakable fold like a house of cards in a hurricane far too often.

    Come to that, I remember when I was at school, all the computers got upgraded to brand new shiny top of the line things with supposedly great security packages. The school decided that the system was secure, and that students couldn't hack progams into it anymore, so they lessened supervision.

    A week later, one kid found a weakness to get into the admin account for one computer, found that all the other PC's in the place had the same flaw and installed Doom, Counterstrike, Unreal Tournament & Unreal Tournament 2004 onto them. For those that don't know, they're all rated at around 16+ games. Yet we were able to play huge networked (and without parental setting, gory) deathmatches whenever we felt like it.

    What was worse, the staff that were supposed to be supervising were so bad at their jobs that it took 6 months for them to notice that we were gaming, then another 3 to figure out that it wasn't a website, and another 1 to get rid of the games.

    And you know what the security flaw that the school's entire IT department had miss was? They hadn't disabled the password reset on the windows, so a three button combination and anyone in the school could access anything on the network, from other students work to the school's financial records, as well as bypassing all the net filters. So the whole IT dept of a school was defeated for 10 months (an entire school year) by a 16 year old with basic computer know how. Even worse than that - they actually had to ask him how he did it and how to stop it happening again.

    So don't cosset kids away from reality, because it just makes them less equipped to deal with it. I saw a 16 year old once who didn't watch news and wouldn't even play chess because his mother had taught him it was too violent. When 9/11 and 7/7 happened, he couldn't cope beause he'd never been exposed to any level of violence. But more than that, NEVER trust software to keep kids safe. The only thing that'll do it right is that lump of grey behind your eyes. Computers are simultaneously the smartest and dumbest things in your home, doing exactly what you tell them to, no more, no less. Only you keeping an eye on your kids and adapting based on the child (not the age, can't stress that enough) can really keep them safe today.

  • Comment number 41.

    "3. At 09:38am on 09 Feb 2010, mushroom_snake wrote:
    No offence meant, badger_fruit - but if you want your child to 'maintain his innocence' by shielding him from the world then I question whether he'll grow up to be a well rounded individual."

    No offence taken, I never said I'd shield him from the world, and certainly not hide him away from all the bad things on the web either for ever - he's just not ready to be exposed to that sort of thing AT HIS AGE!

    You know, you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, he replies "A banana" .. why spoil that innocence?! I shall continue to be his role model for as long as I can, protect him from the bad things in this world and use my own judgement on how to raise both of my kids to the best of my abilities. So what's wrong with that? i don't need CEOP, Microsoft or the government to do that thank you.

    And hello to my wife who's sneaking a read of this at work right now ;)

  • Comment number 42.

    Having worked as a teacher in secondary school and sixth form college, I unfortunately can confirm that the internet access by mobile phone is a serious issue - there are safety and content control measures available, but many kids do know how to circumvent them. And of course, it only takes one child to get through the system, for other children in the playground to be shown material from "beyond the wall". It is quite common for young teenagers to be found with extreme or hardcore pornography - far removed from the type of smut on the top shelf of a newsagent, or copies of the Sunday Sport that used to get passed around when I was at school. Another issue is teenagers sending naked photographs of themselves - webcam and photos on mobiles are the issue here. Commonly, girls hope that this will not go any further than the lad, usually a boyfriend, who they were trying to please. But they can and do circulate, or worse still get used for blackmail purposes. So to further what some posters have said about parents actively keeping an eye on what their kids get up to online, it's also important to check out their phones.

    The fact that a child has the knowledge to circumvent a content system does not mean they have the maturity to deal with what that gives them access to! A mixture of curiosity and rebellion can take kids into pretty dark territory. Bear in mind that in neurological development, the brain's risk-management capacity is one of the last things to finalise, only completely maturing after a person is twenty (one of the reasons young drivers tend to be dangerous to themselves and others - it isn't just inexperience). Particularly when fuelled by bravado or "thinking downstairs rather than upstairs", kids can do some stupid things and common sense goes out of the window even if the technical skills are present. The Wisconsin Facebook blackmail scandal, extensively reported on the BBC, is a perfect example of this - more than 30 teenage boys at one high school sent naked photographs to another student who had been posing as a girl online, and the ensuing blackmail culminated in sexual assault. Teenage boys "on heat" can do really stupid and risky things and while that is true both online and in the real world, it remains true that the internet provides more access to "easier" opportunities to make those mistakes. It's self-evident that 30 students from that high school wouldn't have stripped naked in person and allowed themselves to be photographed - particularly by a person who, in the flesh, would have clearly been a boy rather than the supposed "girl" they were hoping to sleep with!

  • Comment number 43.

    To _Ewan_ at post #27:
    Your optimism might be a little premature.
    Go round to any secondary school in the UK today, and discover how many of the kids have persuaded/tricked the mobile operators to class their mobile account as unrestricted adult. As someone on this thread said earlier, children are cleverer than we give them credit for, when they want to be.

    And to those who state that as long as we are good parents, we don't need to worry what our children see on the net - are you parents ?
    Yes, by the time our kids are 18 years old they need the freedom and knowledge to do whatever they want, including on the net.
    But how can you apply the same principle to a 7 year old, as has been done repeatedly on this thread ?
    Children need to grow up at a child's pace, and that is slowly over many years. The sexualisation and exploitation of young children is a worry for many parents today (but not for all parents, and if you want to bring up your children differently, it is your choice).

  • Comment number 44.

    Ladies & Gentlemen
    It doesn't matter which browser, or operating system that you are using; children will always be inquisitive and will always be threatened by elders.

    All the whinging that is taking place upon this site concerning which browser you should use is again inmaterial; as is the fact that Microsoft in collaboration with CEOP have made available a special version of IE8 available for download from the CEOP website.

    Does this mean that IE8 is protected and IE7 is not, or that MS was the only company to see that they held a responsibility and acted accordingly ?

    In reality, maybe, but if we are serious about protection, (and CEOP are), then all browser & IM vendors (Open and Closed source), should club together and produce "panic buttons" for their respective software as standard, which can be downloaded from ALL vendors websites (MS will host Firefox & Firefox will reciprecate).

    How many people remember back in the mid 90's when Clinton waged war upon porn sites ?

    The porn sites clubbed together and offered the ability to download NetNanny, and other, software which would provide protection.

    Irrespective of the OS which is being used upon the family computer, (I'll take Windows because it's the norm), I'm wondering just how many people who have posted within this chain have investigated the parental settings within XP, Vista & Win7; whilst XP is fairly rudementary Vista & Win7 provide a more ganular level of protection.

    After that it's a case of being an adult and speaking with your children. I consider that my two daughters (13 & 8) are reasonable internet users; understanding that they can only access the internet whilst sat in the sitting room and first ask. They also know that I reserve the right to watch what they are doing, and to ask questions about their friends within IM. If they are unable to tell me who that person is, and where they live then the contact is removed. They do not join conversations without knowing who the person is.

    If they access the internet outside the sitting room then it is for homework, otherwise I lock it down and restrict their access (ask my eldest).

    Purely out of interest how many parents have seen their child type POS in a messenger window and then either close, or minimize it ?

    Grateful for your thoughts


  • Comment number 45.

    Its all really down to whether you give them supervised access or time alone. The software can help for those difficult years of 8 to 13 where your children want more independence, but for younger children you should really be sat down with them.

    Once over 12 or 13 if you are too strict they'll find other ways of doing things. A fine line between freedom and control has to be walked.

  • Comment number 46.

    Lots of cynics here isn't there?
    The point is this. Promoting safe and sensible use of the internet to children is a good thing. However, its the parents that we really need to get to, and we try to do this through the children. I'm sure with schools having parents evenings they will run online safety nights as part of them (the one I work in is, I'm running it)

    At the end of the day its the parents responsibility.
    Do I think CEOP's move for an IE only button is terrible. Yes. They should be producing their own Firefox and Chrome extensions to add it, if they really are serious about safe browsing. But the idea in itself, a day where we teach children that stranger danger applies to the internet too, I'm all for.

  • Comment number 47.

    Brian McNeil said:

    "My monster will be thirteen this year; and, yes, he's been getting online since about age four. I suspect he's now better equipped to deal with just about anything you find online than the people at CEOP."

    Recognise when a good looking teenage girl on facebook is chatting him up? Fully aware that the cute girl with the blonde hair is actually a 40 yr old bloke? Really? Good for him.

    This isn't about web censorship and kids finding stuff online.
    It's about people finding kids online.

    CEOP produce some very good materials to show children in schools that there are people out there who wish to abuse them, and to recognise those signs and to protect themselves. That's what the button is for.

    and then this:
    "Mind you, in the last eighteen months or so, I've taught him how to bypass school "netnannying" filters, how to retrieve his email without some nosey official grabbing his password. He could even circumvent the Internet Watch Foundation's blacklist without breaking a sweat."

    Making your kid an enemy of the schools IT team, putting the school network and its extended network at risk of viruses and malware, risking exclusion? Shouldn't your kid actually be WORKING on something educational at school instead of circumventing security so he can play Tower Defence?

    Do you have any idea why schools filter the internet in the way they do? - Viruses, malware, pornography and parents.

    You seem quite happy to let your child have everything that the internet has to offer, but some parents blow a gasket if a child can get on the website for the sun newspaper. Never little Johnny's fault for going there, it's the fault of the school for not stopping him.

    I agree that CEOP should produce an add on for all browsers and not promote IE. But raising a child to see that rules are there for breaking? Hey, you never know, in a few years maybe he'll get sacked from his first job for abusing the internet.
    It's no different.

  • Comment number 48.

    Surely its about the way we bring our children up to use the internet not what is on the internet. Just becuase there is alsorted stuff that we'd like them not to see doesn't mean that they won't see it. I sat with my daughter in a regualated chat room, where it was supposed to be monitored live, but she still got asked what underwear she was wearing. I complained. The point is that Our children should have exposure to life otherwise they don't grow properly, but we don't ram it down their throats. I have never set controls on our browsers or firewall, unless there are known malware sites. Many of the worst malware sites however are online games that come loaded with extra goodies :S We can't be with our children 24/7/365 but we can instil in them some good standards that will help them live life. Like someone else said, look before you cross the road, and don't talk to strangers

  • Comment number 49.

    badgerfruit, anyone who thinks that just because they use Linux they are immune to malmare or viruses (viri is not a word) is fooling themselves. True, Linux is not as susceptible as other sustems but it is far, far from being immune. To my certain knowledge there are over several thousand possible attack vectors in existence at the moment.

  • Comment number 50.

    I'm going to have to agree with #3. By all means, install ad blockers and virus scanners, but wrapping kids up in too much cotton wool only causes serious probems later - childhood doesn't last forever and they need to be prepared for the real world.

    There's such a thing as "street smarts". Something which can't really be taught unless they're out on the streets - even basic things like crossing the road safely can't be done properly in the class room, they need... well, you know... a road! "Stop, look and listen" is only half the job - getting them to do it, THAT'S the hard part.

    Similarly, "web smarts" can't be properly taught if they're behind so much security that every popular website has been blocked. Ohh sure, you can talk a good talk on it in the classroom, but that's no substitute for the "real world".

    Someday, probably sooner rather than later, that security will disappear, or be got around. You can't hold their hands forever. To think otherwise is naive in the extreme.

    Still, I wouldn't trust CEOP, or the government to teach this stuff. CEOP has proven that it can't be trusted to keep its own website clean, and the government breaks every IT project it touches! And I certainly wouldn't use Internet Explorer unless absolutly necersary.
    This one's clearly a "parental resposibility" issue.

  • Comment number 51.

    Addressing Internet issues directly with children is an excellent initiative, so that they can understand, in a form familiar to them, the perils in the internet jungle.

    However, this campaign is not enough if children are not also supported up by the protection of their parents.

    Parents should consider the campaign as additional support to the education they provide on how to safely use the internet and not as a replacement.

    Parents must understand some Golden Rules to reduce and avoid dangers to their children.
    The following safety tips will help protect your children:

    1. Know your computer - it is important for parents to know how a computer works and how the internet works. A parent should be able to read the history of websites visited in order to block unwanted websites
    2. Avoid isolation of children - though children need their privacy, hours spent alone in a bedroom before a computer are not advisable
    3. Place the computer in an open area – this will make it easier to supervise your child whilst they are online
    4. Schedule time on the Internet

    Additionally we also need to consider that technology, represented by parental control software, could be of help to automate and modulate the daily operations which can be allowed or denied within a computer connected to internet

    Rossano Ferraris, CA ISBU Research Team

  • Comment number 52.

    MS are doing their bit to help parents who have very little idea of what parenting is all about by working with a 'nanny' state government in providing a solution and RORY decides that the bar should be raised in publicity for software companies...not really smart is it?

    5-7 year olds should be outdoors doing activities that encourge fitness & exercise for physical and mental development not exposing their eyes to lcd/crt monitors causing sight damage. Where there is a computer at home and the kinds want to have a playaround, it shouldnt be connected to the internet and access should be giving to games which the parents have bought themselves with the kids having a scheduled playing time in an area where the parents can easily see what they are doing (such as the living room and not the kids bedroom)

    The internet is a usefull resouce for adult users, it is not likewise for kids. Decent parents know this. Those who allow their young kids access to the internet should take responsibilty for whatever their child accesses and not the software companies. Software companies are not and will never be perfect and all adults know this, so where these same parents expose their kids to the ills of the internet and believe the companies or the government will do a great job in protecting their kids, then such parents might want to consider relocating to pandora, as Earth maybe just a bit trick for them

  • Comment number 53.

    Well let's put it this way, two users: Little Johnny who runs Linux and Big Johnny who uses windows; both receive a "pleasure.exe" file into their hotmail inbox which happens to hold a virus of some description.

    Both run it - who gets infected (assuming of course that there's no AV installed or one with out of date defs)? I'm not saying that a linux box is 100% safe, nothing is but it's a heck of a lot safer than Windows!

    Anyway, I'm not going to wrap them in cotton wool by any means but they're my children, it's my job to do what I can to protect them from the bad things in this world, real or virtual. It's sad that people think otherwise (or that it's someone elses job to do this).

  • Comment number 54.


    "It is very simple and works well. Of course it is not possible to control MSN in the same way. Shame really."

    Happy to report that you can do this if you like:

  • Comment number 55.

    Filtration systems do work if set up properly.

    As i have some IT knowledge I have managed to install a system called dansguardian. It is an open source plugin for Linux. This allows a filtration system based on the web addresses against a known blacklist. It also scans the content of the webpage wording and uses a points system to try and combat false positives. U can set the word phrase limit to what ever u think is right to allow surfing without interrupting legit websites. You can also edit the blacklists if u find some sites it will not filter out or edit the white lists for websites that are ok but are blocked. I find this works quite effectively most of the time.

    Can a browser actually stop people dropping in a mistyped web addresses and stumbling across adult orientated websites. I don't think it will work to well, but time will tell.

  • Comment number 56.

    @ badger_fruit

    Linux is only 'safe' due to the very low number of people use it, so there is no point in writing malicious programs to run on Linux, same with mac.

    As popularity increases so will the thread of viruses, trojans and other malware.

  • Comment number 57.

    This is indicative of the society we live in PANIC first, think later. I work for an LEA and its annoying to see that masses of websites are blocked for student use..."just in case little Johnny sees a boob".

    As a result the educational potential of thousands of online tools and websites are blocked and barred. Instead, TEACHERS should police their class using Forensic software which takes random screenshots of pupils web activity. MAKE PUPILS responsible, and punish them when they break the rules. DO not Spoil the internet for everyone else? Blocking and filtering simply pushes pupils towards other methods, surfing at friends houses or on their phones, where they can look at anything. Consoles and TV can now access the web..ARE THESE FILTERED IN YOUR HOUSE?

    Also, Can I just say that Internet explorer is the WORLDS MOST OUTDATED BROWSER. Yet schools continue to use it, as do so many homes. NO wonder so many computers are riddled with spyware and viruses.

    Get in the REAL WORLD PEOPLE. Stop coddling the kids, get a proper browser ditch IE, and Enforce sanctions against those who seek to endanger themselves or others whether it be at school or home. I mean who runs the world, Adults or Kids?

  • Comment number 58.

    I meant threat not thread

  • Comment number 59.

    #56 - yes, I am fully aware of this fact thank you and happy to be in the minority. I am sure as its popularity grows there will be more holes found and exploited - unfortunately, the linux desktop is heading the microsoft way - users don't need to know how to extract and install software from the command line anymore to be able to install things, RPMs can be downloaded and run just as easily as EXE files.

    Shame really ... just like most things, it's being dumbed down to the lowest denominator to appeal to the mass market :( Mind you, in saying that, Linux don't currently, or ever have claimed to want "a pc running linux on every desktop" so who cares if the numbers stay low? Means more security for me an my family lol!

    I don't want to get into an OS war though, I suppose it's nice that someone's trying to do something about child-safety online but like everything, the ultimate responsibility should be with the parents.

    Also, I wonder how nice the internet would be if the government went after the child pornographers with as much vigor as they do with joe bloggs who downloaded an MP3 track illegally?

    End rambling, I really should be working right now :\

  • Comment number 60.

    I design and develop websites and have been doing for just over 15 years. I started out using Netscape through a Mac OS emulated on an Amiga! The Amiga didn't have net access at first. I moved over to PC's but stuck with Netscape until a year or 2 after they stopped developing the browser. I then had a very short stint on IE and ultimately moved over to FireFox. I still have emails going back to 1999!, sad eh?
    In those 15 years I have never received anything malicious through the browser, except for the stint using IE working for another company.

    So if you want something for free, that's reliable, then FireFox is your browser.

    However, you need to make sure that you have a firewall with anti virus running and that should keep you more or less safe most of the time.

  • Comment number 61.

    Reading between the lines here, it seems Microsoft have thrown together an IE8 "child saftey" addon, and using that as leverage that people should use their sucky browser..

    No thanks, we use Opera in our household, and there is no substitute for educating your kids...

  • Comment number 62.

    I'm not a parent, and (I really hope) never will be. That said, this whole "keep the 5-9 year olds safe online" thing that's going on at the moment annoys me no end.

    It strikes me as pretty obvious that I wouldn't let a 5 year old walk down a London street by themselves all day. Equally, children of that age should not even be using the internet unsupervised; it's a very different medium to television/radio, which is pre-moderated by the broadcaster.

    Too many people fail to apply real-world common sense to online-world activities, as above. To use a more adult example; I don't walk down Oxford High Street with my wallet buttoned to my shirt and a sign saying "Personal details here"; I equally don't spread my details all over the internet for everyone to use. The same applies to all internet behaviour, whether child-related or not.

    From the point of view of selecting browser, then, it's straightforward - go with the one that makes your internet experience (and that of your child) as simple and fast as possible. Any automated filter has holes, and the best web monitoring you can use would be the Mark I Eyeball.

  • Comment number 63.

    I agree with the comments above that we should not be relying on parental filters to keep children safe on the net. Particularly young children really should not be anywhere near a computer unsupervised in the first place. I'm not just talking about risks such as viruses and cyber bullies, I'm also talking about the dangers of having a drink near live cables, biting the mouse, or sticking fingers into usb ports. A five year old doesn't have the maturity to know that these things are lethal.

    I would never allow a child under 10 near my computer without me being present and even then I would not be comfortable with the situation.

  • Comment number 64.

    Useful tool, if anyone is interested, for windows users is Blue Coat K9 protection. It's free and runs in the background monitoring what pages are being accessed. Use if for our kids, works a treat!!

  • Comment number 65.

    20. At 12:46pm on 09 Feb 2010, cilurnum wrote:

    Anyone who wants to stop their children doing silly things online needs to reaquaint themselves with the shutdown procedure and cutting the power to the computer.

    I could not agree more. I wish more parents would take away children's access to the internet as a punishment for breaking rules and bad behaviour.

    Having a computer in your bedroom may seem like a clever idea to keep the kids quiet, but what on Earth are they doing on-line that would need such a high level of secrecy from their parents? certainly not their homework.

    The problem today is that some people believe the computer is the solution to everything, and it most certainly is not.

  • Comment number 66.

    If Microsoft really understands online security why is it still issuing security patches and fixes almost every month for an eight generation web browser?

  • Comment number 67.

    @ Mafia

    "Linux is only 'safe' due to the very low number of people use it, so there is no point in writing malicious programs to run on Linux, same with mac."

    I'm sorry but this simply is not true, and I speak as someone who makes a living writing software development training courses for a Microsoft Premier Partner.

    Linux and other Unix based operating systems are inherently more secure. While it is true that they have a considerably smaller installed user base than Microsoft Windows based operating systems it is not justified to suggest that they would be faced with the same security concerns as Microsoft Windows.

    The simple truth is that *nix based operating systems such as Apples OSX are just more advanced, using techniques such as Sandboxing, Randomization and Execute Disable it is extremely difficult to develop malware to target these platforms. As we have seen recently, Microsoft are only just patching a 13 year old bug from MS-DOS that is still in the code base for Windows 7 and Server 2008.

    Don't get me wrong, there are still issues with *nix based systems but this isn't as black and white as you make out. Microsoft are making great strides towards improving security in their products and closing the gap fast on Apple and co.

    While Linux is an incredibly secure system, it can be difficult for non technical users to administer which is why I think so many people are switching to the mac platform.

  • Comment number 68.

    POS - Parent(s) Over Shoulder

    Isn't google brilliant.

  • Comment number 69.

    Educate your child then put the computer in the room where the parents spend most of their time, kitchen, lounge etc. so you as a parent can see at any time what your child is doing. Get computers out of bedrooms where doors can be locked with you on the outside. Be aware of any changes in your childs behaviour. KNOW your children... spend time with them so when changes occure you WILL see them and be able to act. The best thing to do is help your child understand the dangers of blogging and im-ing with people they don't know, even if they've struck up a friendship with someone they've met online, and then moniter them closely.

  • Comment number 70.

    Another vote here for openDNS
    Has anyone here ever had it let them down?

  • Comment number 71.

    i agree with badger_fruit about keeping your child innocent as long as posssble , i think he said his kid was 5 , its stupid to suggest he should be telling his kids the dangers of the internet at 5 :)

    i also get bored with the constant criticism of IE8 , There's always a smug attitude from people who use other browsers as if they are superior and clever for using another browser. IE is perfectly fine if used properly. millions of people manage to use it for 10+ years without getting any virus's or trojans.

  • Comment number 72.

    Of course there are dangers in the internet. And on the street. And school. And so on.
    However, I think the level of anxiety and suspicion in our society is sometimes preventing children from enjoying life to the full.
    I don't want my children to be suspicious and anxious about everything and everybody. I want them to be informed and to act sensibel.
    No technology in the world will provide protection as good as an interested and informed parent having a strong relationship with their child. To build this it takes, of course, time and loads of effort!

  • Comment number 73.

    The rampant stupidity of the DirectGov "Buster's World" site - a truly amazing confabulation of child safety with gay pornography - is enough evidence that leaving this matter in the hands of parents and children and ignoring almost any definitive advice from government agencies is the best advice.

  • Comment number 74.

    I went to chrome about xmas time & have never looked back Its an amazing bit of kit.

  • Comment number 75.

    Another vote here for openDNS Has anyone here ever had it let them down?

    Yes, on two counts. Firstly it doesn't ever return NXDOMAIN results, which breaks all sorts of things including various spam filters and Firefox's 'Awesomebar', and secondly I have known it (once) to misclassify an innocent blog as a porn site based on a similarity in the domain names.

    These may well be trade-offs worth making, but it's not a compromise free solution.

  • Comment number 76.

    @56 Maffia

    "Linux is only 'safe' due to the very low number of people use it, "

    My Reply:
    Incorrect. Linux and OS X are safer by *DESIGN*.

    I keep hearing inexperience system admins and Windows users spout the same rubbish and quite frankly it's the kind of nonsense Microsoft are hoping people believe.

    The real facts:
    * Linux can't auto-execute downloaded binaries or shell scripts. First these scripts need to be defined as executable and that can only be performed by a manual user intervention. Windows can and DOES auto-execute binaries and shell scripts.

    * Linux users do NOT have access to system files - to gain access the user needs to enter an administrator password. Windows prior to XP has no such security. Windows Vista and 7 have a UAC which offers no password and, in the case of Win 7, can be entirely bypassed via a widely publicised hack.

    * Windows offers no safe and secure download repository - instead expect it's users to navigate the internet to find application websites for a download link. While 99.9% of people can cope with this fine, not everyone can tell the difference between a authentic site and one that also appears in Google searches and looks authentic but actually has fake software and/or a booby-trapped site.

    * Linux discourages users from admin accounts except for rare system changes. Windows gives users admin access by default.

    ...I could go on.

    So sure, you could make Windows secure by installing firewalls, anti-virus suites, setting your main accounts as users instead of administrators and only running trusted programs. But the problem with Windows is it's up to the users to secure the OS where as few users really know about security (why should they?).
    Linux on the other hand, is secure by default.

    The core of the problem:

    The problem Microsoft (MS) have is they're shooting themselves in the foot by trying to preserve backwards compatibility. In doing so they're keeping the system wide open. They're keeping the justification for user admin accounts (eg where lazy software developers are using administration APIs to perform standard tasks) - in fact, the whole point of Vista's nag screen (read: UAC) is to annoy the users and developers enough for force change (I've lost a link, but an MS executive has gone on record saying this). In keeping backwards compatibility their continually having to fix old and new security breaches (remember that BBC article about a 17-year old but that left DOS applications the ability to compromise Windows 7?!!!)

    What MS should have done was draw a line under Vista and state that any legacy apps (applications written for XP and previous NT systems as well as the DOS GUI that was the original Windows line) would run in a completely sandboxed virtualised environment.

    This would have lead for a future focused flag-ship product, but instead MS are continually looking backwards.

    So this is why Windows is so bloated, this is why Windows is slow and this is why Windows is so insecure!

    And I say this with a great number of years under my belt having worked professionally both supporting and developing on Windows as well as Macs and various flavours of *nix from Solaris to through to numerous Linux distributions.
    So I have a good understanding of most major operating systems from both the end user, and the developers perspective.

  • Comment number 77.

    To those of you posting opinions that "Linux/OSX are just as insecure as Windows" - please, don't post about what you clearly know nothing about.

    You cannot run Windows executable files (.exe) on Linux/OSX. They simply will not run. The system architecture is completely different. Both are based on Unix, which is a serious operating system, designed for network connectivity and which is very, very strict about permissions. Networking was bolted on as an after-thought to Windows (it was, after all, Microsoft who dismissed the internet as a fad that would go nowhere). All computers are not the same. Don't be confused by the similarity in clickable icons and menus. The code "behind the scenes" is totally different.

    The default setting in Linux is for the User account to have limited authority so that processes invoked by the user, such as the web browser, cannot write to system files and thus the core of the system is protected from malicious code. On Windows more or less the exact opposite is true.
    Microsoft have had over a decade to sort this out but have chosen instead to engage in a war of misinformation, the chief part of which is perpetuating the nonsense that "the only reason why Linux/OSX is not attacked is because hardly anyone uses them". On mainland Europe whole swathes of Government departments have migrated to Linux. It's only in this country where there is no political will to move away from Microsoft.

    On OSX the default is that the machine comes ready to input account information on first boot, but that account has full Administrator rights - it is wise to create a Limited User account and to use that for day to day use. Even though running remote code on OSX is much harder than on Windows, it is still best policy to restrict yourself to a Limited User account. This is more a future proofing move rather than a dire necessity. There are no Mac viruses in the wild (though a couple have been created as "proof of concept").

    I worked in IT for several years and used Linux exclusively for 7 years. I now use Macs.
    Our Government's tendency to "work closely" with Microsoft is depressing, in as much as everyone else gets left out and the message is, as a consequence, very distorted.
    If Microsoft want to be taken seriously regarding security they need to redesign Windows properly, taking account of the obvious superiority of the Unix model. And my advice is don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

  • Comment number 78.

    Not everyone can afford windows 7 and struggle to afford an XP machine. As a kid libraries had kids teenage and adult sections. When I wanted to read older books I had been taught to ask; my parents and grand parents checked them first explained if they said no, and promised in a year or so.
    Two points 1 put in limits on the browser and guide your kids interest, 2 find the time, stop watching soaps and using the tv and pc as a child minder. Helping them grow up is why you have a family...

  • Comment number 79.

    All of us need to be kept away from phishing and malware as well as keeping children from adult content. I use K9 for free web filtering with different rules for the kids than for me, hope this helps.

  • Comment number 80.

    I am only 19, and I still remember what it is like as a child.

    Children are very resourceful, at school if we spent as much time trying to get round the internet filter as we did working, we would all have As.

    Restricting children technologically will only serve to pique their curiosity at what they are being restricted from,and they will one day get around it, perhaps at a friends place. Censorship isn't the best way to deal with the problem, the most efficient way is, as many have said, to discuss it with your child and bring your children up knowing not to look at certain sites or click on certain sites, and to tell their parents if anything dodgy is going on...

  • Comment number 81.


    Thanks, for giving us the general public and parents in particular regarding the MICROSOFT problems with Internet Service....

    -Dennis Junior-

  • Comment number 82.

    I have an 11 year old girl and she has been on the internet since she could mess about with the computer – since about 2 years old. I have never had any of these filters turned on simply because they give a false sense of security, they affect performance of the computer by scanning everything, they ban good sites by mistake, they effecting searches etc.
    Instead we have educated her all along the way, she has become very savvy and has in turn has educated many of her friends and even their parents about the internet and safety.
    Yes she has seen junk, but that is everywhere in the real world when they look out the window of the car and see peoples everyday behavior, dress code, respect, sex shops even prostitutes on occasions, it is all there and you can’t ban that when they are in the back seat, not to mention the corner news paper shop is like a porn stand at times!
    So I believe that parents need to wake up, they are your kids not the governments, your responsibility to raise not the internet providers etc.
    Also say you do ban sites, not all their friends will have the same filters you have etc, not to mention the question of when do you remove filters, when they leave home and if so do they break out on porn then like the 18 year olds break out the beer now that they are finally 'of age'? There is loads of porn going around on kids (my daughter’s age) mobiles, mainly among the boys that see it as a novelty because they have not been educated on it, therefore are so immature and not able to ignore it.
    As for browsers, we don’t care about brand names and are not anti any brand for any of the above reasons, therefore we have IE, Firefox, Chrome and Opera are all loaded on the PC. The 11 year old has set Opera as the default choice on the grounds of speed of loading pages, better streaming of video, and some other techie reason she has. (but we need IE or firefox sometimes to load the badly programmed web pages that are not supporting the Opera browser).
    I am delighted with how our daughter has taken to the so well to our parenting style of 'we educate she learns' rather than the 'we ban and you obey' method. We do this for everything not just internet, and she has not lost her innocence, she is just wise and street smart.
    Too many people want the authorities to parent their kids for them, I say what a joke, they are your kids you deal with it responsibly, and continue to do so until they are grown up. Then you can be proud of your kids’ behavior, not saying ‘My boy only did it because the interned let him’. Don’t have kids if you are not prepared to educate them, and then only have the number of kids you think you can do a good job on.
    The world according to Leon!

  • Comment number 83.

    QUOTE: There are no Mac viruses in the wild (though a couple have been created as "proof of concept").

    There is however other malware for macs out in the wild, and there are a few viruses for OS9.

  • Comment number 84.

    It's an excellent idea to educate kids on the dangers of the internet but for a government organization to opening promote a single web browser from a commercial company is disgraceful, unfair and legally suspect.

    They then continue to heavily suggest that MS Explorer is the only browser out there that will be safe for children to use.

    I believe they may be doing more harm than good by giving parents the idea that if they use MS Internet Explorer their children will be safer - this is not true! All web surfing has dangers no matter which browser you use. Parental control, common sense and use of site/word blocking tools should be used with all browsers.

  • Comment number 85.

    And before being accused of being completely wrong again, I agree that Windows is less secure that other OS's available, however my issue is with people that insist that the other OS's are 100% secure as this has in a lab setting been disproved.

  • Comment number 86.

    I'm 16 and at school, and there is NO way I'd ever let anyone near IE. If I'm helping set up a new PC, first thing I install is Firefox and Adblock Plus and promptly remove all offending links to the woeful IE.

    If the CEOP were serious on "security" and "censorship", they'd promote a free extension and common sense, and maybe tell the world about the wonderful Adblock Plus, too.


  • Comment number 87.

    I find it AMAZING that people still think Firefox is MORE secure than IE. Its been proven time and time again that it has more vulnerabilities: [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] It had 115 in 2008, IE had 31. In fact Firefox had more than all the major browsers combined. Admitedly they fix them faster but thats most likely due to the open source nature (I'd bet less users update as quick as they do with IE though).

    Additionally, the BBC are always very pro FF and Google etc. Look at the article on a "17 yr old vulnerability". Talk about a VERY misleading title, the bug was reported in JAN 2010 not 17 years ago. It just so happens it was never exposed until now!

    Then look at an article they posted about an IE bug a year or so ago: followed by another a day later The original article had no mention of Firefox having 10 vulnerabilities patched the very same week!

    Sounds like I am pro MS here but seriously the trolling about IE is rediculous when the facts clearly indicate otherwise. If you slate the security of IE6 then you are a little mad, it would be like comparing IE8 to FF1.0 for security.

    Oh and someone said this:

    "What MS should have done was draw a line under Vista and state that any legacy apps (applications written for XP and previous NT systems as well as the DOS GUI that was the original Windows line) would run in a completely sandboxed virtualised environment.

    This would have lead for a future focused flag-ship product, but instead MS are continually looking backwards."

    Windows 7 includes that very feature for that very reason - its called XP Mode and is a VM running in Virtual PC!!!

  • Comment number 88.

    OS9 is obsolete to all intents and purposes. It doesn't work with Snow Leopard. There may be a few old systems still using it, just as there are old system running Windows 95. However, you cannot say "therefore OSX is just as vulnerable", it isn't. OS9 dates back to before Apple changed to using a form of BSD as the base for OSX.

    Anti-virus makers really want everyone to believe that there are viruses out there for every operating system in existence. Because it's in their financial interests for people to believe that. Microsoft want you to believe that too, because then they don't look so bad for releasing successive versions of Windows, all with the same slack security. They have, after all, made an awful lot of money out of Windows and to be still releasing OS's that are easily infected after all these years appears to be lazy, or greedy, or both.

    All this will be changing over the coming months and years. The desktop PC will become less obligatory as devices like the iPad become more common. The vast majority of users don't need a fully functional OS with bazillions of lines of code and umpteen routes of entry. They want the net, email, films, music, photos and maybe basic document editing functions. They don't want to, nor should they have to, worry constantly about getting hacked, infected or compromised. Microsoft really need to wake up and come up with a competing solution to this or they will get left behind. And seeing as how both Linux and OSX have already proved that a relatively safe system is possible, Microsoft's excuses to the contrary sound increasingly hollow as time goes on.

    The bottom line is that any system designed by one man can be reverse engineered by another. But that does not in any way excuse releasing software the design weaknesses of which are known and unaddressed.

  • Comment number 89.

    @83, Maffia

    There is however other malware for macs out in the wild, and there are a few viruses for OS9.

    My Reply:
    Mac OS9 is a completely different OS to OS X and one that was discontinued 10 years ago.
    So not only is OS X safe from OS 9 viruses, but also the number of people still running OS9 is close to zero.

    So why even mention OS9? It's almost as if you're out to discredit every other OS because it's not Windows rather than looking at the facts objectively.

    As for the other malware - the majority of it is from users downloading warez from P2P networks and news-groups. So if you're stupid enough to install a bit-torrented copy of MS Office for Mac without first virus scanning it, then you're you've only got yourself to blame.

  • Comment number 90.

    You seem to be harping on about Microsoft's IE8 in this entire article yet the link from the BBC home page asks what browser should you choose for child safety. There -are- other browsers out there you know, and like you mentioned in the article, ones that don't have long histories of security leaks. Open-source plugins are available for child restrictions such as Glubble for Firefox.

  • Comment number 91.

    17:57 and I've just caught up with all of the above posts. Clearly parents need to be responsible for their children and educate them accordingly. The age at which a child starts to use the internet is debateable but education and control over which web-sites your children visit is not. Without guidance, free access to the web is like letting your child into a corner pornographer's (as some newsagents appear to be) shop and giving them a step ladder to reach the top shelf.

    Good parents will provide guidance for their children but they do need some help. In all probability, today's children have more 'tech' awareness of the internet and computers than their parents.

    For those parents who are not too computer literate, how about some of the clearly technical and IT literate contributors providing some links to sites that provide reliable, easy to read and hopefully unbiased information about computer security. For instance, I'm fed up with Vista becoming slower with each update that is applied. I'd like to run Linux as an O/s but would like to know the pros and cons.

    So, without any blatent advertising, how about some of you guys in the know letting on where to find reliable information about Operating systems, monitoring software etc ?? Yes, I agree that parents must not use software tools as 'babysitters' but some technical assistance would also be a great help.

    Incidentally, full marks to James in Post #28. Make time for your children, read to them - encourage them to read for themselves and set their imaginations free; no internet site is a match for that!

  • Comment number 92.

    correct thinking from ceop but i think it's just a little step. we need more action to protect children, not just 'panic buttons'...

  • Comment number 93.

    I'd just like to point out Google Chrome's latest piece of kit : 'Incognito Window'

    A browser which doesn't record any of your history, deletes all your cookies and generally knocks you off the radar. Now what do you think teenage kids are going to use this for?

  • Comment number 94.

  • Comment number 95.

    I have a great online security system for my children. Me! I take an interest in what they are doing and I know instantly if they've been on a site that could be problematic. When that happens, we decide together how to ensure they are able to use it correctly. So far nothing's slipped through the net!

  • Comment number 96.

    "IE8 isn't available to Mac or Linux users"

    Phew! That's a relief. Would I let my little ones anywhere near a browser that has more holes in it than a piece of swiss cheese? Think again!

    56. At 3:36pm on 09 Feb 2010, Maffia wrote:
    @ badger_fruit

    Linux is only 'safe' due to the very low number of people use it, so there is no point in writing malicious programs to run on Linux, same with mac.

    As popularity increases so will the thread of viruses, trojans and other malware." do realise that over 2/3rds of the internet/www is run on *nix based servers. Can you imagine the mess if it was run on Windows based technology??? ;)

  • Comment number 97.

    @ 93 Edward: All browsers have the so-called "Private mode" you're talking about. It's not just Chrome. CEOP could have definitely done better by including Firefox, Chrome and Safari rather than just Internet Explorer.

  • Comment number 98.

    77. At 5:02pm on 09 Feb 2010, dave hands wrote:
    To those of you posting opinions that "Linux/OSX are just as insecure as Windows" - please, don't post about what you clearly know nothing about.

    You cannot run Windows executable files (.exe) on Linux/OSX. They simply will not run. The system architecture is completely different. Both are based on Unix, which is a serious operating system, designed for network connectivity and which is very, very strict about permissions. Networking was bolted on as an after-thought to Windows (it was, after all, Microsoft who dismissed the internet as a fad that would go nowhere). All computers are not the same. Don't be confused by the similarity in clickable icons and menus. The code "behind the scenes" is totally different.

    Errr.....wrong, wrong and wrong again....

    *cough cough*

    Currently using it to play Starcraft, run Adobe Photoshop and some Meade Autostar Astronomy software suite :P


  • Comment number 99.

    As a 17 year old who has run multiple basic filter circumvention services internationally and for profit, I fit both into the self proclaimed 'expert' category and the teen/minor category. Although I may be considered as a techie with a fair bit of know-how, younger children and teenagers my age know if they want something on the internet, they can get it regardless of filtering or logging systems.

    When I was about 11, my parents decided that since I had just earned my own user account on our home's XP machine, we ought to install invasive and annoying software (from Symantec if I remember right) to limit and monitor my access. It prevented them from accessing content they wanted to and stopped me from gaming online. My father was so clueless about how to configure the software that I got very frustrated. I therefore set about circumventing the blocks. It took me about three hours. I had the software's 'admin' password and disabled the software on demand as it were. Simple.

    They worked out that I had done that because I effectively boasted to them that I had done it. They cancelled the subscription to the software.

    My point is, kids are innovative and will find ways of circumventing software filtering systems. Over half of the pupils at my college circumvent without detection by simple and advanced methods. It's therefore imperative that parents supervise young children's surfing using the foolproof over-the-shoulder method especially for the first months/years. Then, log all visited URLs (using something at a higher level than browser history (DNS requests perhaps)). If there's anything disagreeable, keep an eye on frequency of visits and then talk to your child!

    My preferred method, were I a parent, would be installing a basic and invisible VNC server to the computer which the child is using. Then leave the child and watch using a client on a laptop in the other room. It creates trust, albeit false trust!

    And no, for all the unfiltered web access I've had since the beginning I am not a worse person. Not a gambling/porn addict nor a hateful person. My parents brought me up right.

  • Comment number 100.

    So there you have it. All you need to do to protect your children is use a mac, some flavour of linux or configure whitelists on a router. All things any average parent will be well versed in doing it would seem judging by the usual smug ill-informed anti-ms nonsense trotted out here.

    BTW "Badger_Fruit", the plural of virus is not viri but viruses even in the exotic world of linux!


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