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During my formative schooling years, when I really should’ve have been studying, I was putting my time to much better use. The Internet was a wonderful place full of amusing videos, school-specific bulletin-boards, and endless sites filled with amazing Flash games Download and Run Your Favorite Flash Games Before They Go Away Download and Run Your Favorite Flash Games Before They Go Away With Google stopping auto-play Flash ads this year, it won't be long before the rest of the Internet starts turning it's back on all things Flash. Read More . However, the school overlords and network administrator decided this wasn’t okay, and they reasoned we should be using our time for much more useful activities.

Like studying.

Of course, it really didn’t take long to find a workaround. Children are smart, and Google is an easily accessible resource.

Security is now tighter, and we more readily consider just what our children will be accessing Tech Companies, Here's What Parents Want From You Tech Companies, Here's What Parents Want From You The Internet's a great place, but a lot of it is designed in such a way that legally assumes kids under 13 aren't using it. They are, and it's a problem for parents. Read More on our home networks. There are out-of-box parental controls Check Out The New Windows 10 Parental Control Options Check Out The New Windows 10 Parental Control Options Windows 10 parental control reports offer details of your child's online behaviour and activity. Some parents are horrified, whilst others welcome it. Let's look at how to use these settings to secure your computer. Read More installed in most devices, as well as a plethora of third-party applications we can use to track 5 Usage Tracking Tools For Parents 5 Usage Tracking Tools For Parents The parent has the duty of policing their child's Internet usage, despite the guilt of invading their privacy. To make this slightly easier and stress-free, there are tools available to help. Read More and protect them. But just because you’ve installed a safety net What You Need to Know About Parental Controls for PCs and Tablets What You Need to Know About Parental Controls for PCs and Tablets Your children are old enough to go online? Set up a family safety or parental control app to protect them from the dark side of the Internet. We show you what these tools can do. Read More , that doesn’t mean your children won’t find a way to navigate through it.

Here’s how they’ll do it!

Proxy Sites

The big one from my restricted Internet days, proxy sites divert traffic via an innocent address, unobstructed by any filters. This means instead of your child attempting to visit horrificfilthyNSFWcontent.com directly, they’ll head to a site such as hide.me, and simply tap the restricted address into the site search bar.

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The proxy site takes care of business, routing the request to an external server which in turn retrieves the content on the user’s behalf.

Proxy Site with Fake URL

Filtering software shouldn’t be able to trace the communication between the proxy site and the external server, but the proxy site itself will be listed in a filter. Many filters actually block the most popular proxy sites for exactly this reason. However, this can have other, unintended effects.

Any particularly dedicated child could eventually find a proxy site that works — they appear and disappear all the time — and while many proxy services are legitimate, your child may happen upon one that is not. A few “innocent” clicks here and there could lead to a massively irritating crapware cleanup, or worse, a full blown malware issue.

Changing or Brute-Forcing Passwords

An extremely common method of bypassing parental controls is by simply changing the password Test Your Password Strength with the Same Tool Hackers Use Test Your Password Strength with the Same Tool Hackers Use Is your password secure? Tools that assess your password strength have poor accuracy, meaning that the only way to really test your passwords is to try to break them. Let's look at how. Read More . I know my parents use a specific password on certain accounts, and have done since I was young. It made it easy to alter settings to my own choosing without alerting anyone to my presence. If the kids know your password, this could be a distinct possibility.

If your child is a little older, and a little more web savvy, they may have explored how to reset your password using their own in-house social engineering. Sure, a stranger doesn’t know the name of your first pet, your mother’s maiden name, and your favorite meal. But the kid’s sure do. And even if they don’t, will you notice their asking as part of a semi-elaborate social engineering scheme 5 Ways Passwords & Other Data Can Be Stolen From Right Under Your Nose 5 Ways Passwords & Other Data Can Be Stolen From Right Under Your Nose If you lose your password to criminals, your entire existence can potentially be rewritten. Protect yourself. Read More to change your passwords, or take it as an inquisitive mind?

Finally, and this is really unlikely, your child may brute-force your password. I cannot imagine why this would happen in day-to-day life, or where they would find access to this level of security tool. I would also hazard that if your child knows about and can make use of the powerful tools used for password cracking, you might have other info-sec issues taking place under your roof.

Different Wi-Fi

How well do you know your neighbors? You must know their names. Maybe their birthdays, names of pets, and a contact number for emergencies. How about their Wi-Fi password?

Okay, so this is becoming increasingly normal, especially if you are indeed friendly with your neighbors. But families living within a reasonable proximity to one another are likely to experience some Wi-Fi broadcast overlap. This means their SSID is viewable from your home. If their network security isn’t up to scratch, your child could easily log onto their unsecured network to access whatever content they desire.

It might not even be a case of lackadaisical Internet security, either. If your kids rampage in a cohort with the neighborhood kids, it could be as easy as asking one of the older children what their Wi-Fi password is. If it has been altered from an alphanumeric code to something “easy to remember,” 6 Tips For Creating An Unbreakable Password That You Can Remember 6 Tips For Creating An Unbreakable Password That You Can Remember If your passwords are not unique and unbreakable, you might as well open the front door and invite the robbers in for lunch. Read More it’ll be even easier to pass forward.

VPNs

It isn’t just adults escaping regional Netflix restrictions Why the Netflix Crackdown on VPNs Will Ultimately Fail Why the Netflix Crackdown on VPNs Will Ultimately Fail Netflix is set to crack down on VPNs to satisfy the rights-holders from whom it sources its content. So, how will Netflix’ ban work? And how effective will it be? Read More using a Virtual Private Network. Just as with proxy sites, you’ll find numerous discreet, free VPN solutions prepared to encrypt your children’s search How Does Encryption Work, and Is It Really Safe? How Does Encryption Work, and Is It Really Safe? Read More entries and the route between their PC and the company servers.

Free solutions usually come with caveats such as speed restrictions, data logging, or a download cap, somewhat limiting the scope of achievable activities. That said, it is feasible they could switch between several VPNs installed on their system to mitigate download caps and speed restrictions. As well as this, it really is quite difficult to spot someone using a VPN with a cursory over-the-shoulder glance.

If they are using a VPN, detecting their bypassing of parental filters will be extremely difficult. Your router will not show a new, alien IP address. Your broadband provider will have no access to the content delivered. Some VPNs do log the user data, for law enforcement and marketing purposes, but they are still unlikely to share the details of your children’s VPN searches with you.

Portable Browsers

I always installed a different browser on my home computers. Aside from the fact Internet Explorer was largely unhelpful, other browsers were faster, more secure, and came with many more features. It also meant I had sole control over what was seen within the browser history, and I could delete it as and when I needed.

Daily Tor Users

Most people know about browser InPrivate or Incognito modes, including the kids (age dependent, of course). Safe search filtering tools still catch blacklisted URLs, even when using private mode. Particularly savvy teenagers may have brushed up on their personal security homework, and be aware of the TOR Browser Really Private Browsing: An Unofficial User’s Guide to Tor Really Private Browsing: An Unofficial User’s Guide to Tor Tor provides truly anonymous and untraceable browsing and messaging, as well as access to the so called “Deep Web”. Tor can’t plausibly be broken by any organization on the planet. Read More , which can easily be installed and deployed from a USB stick.

The TOR Browser reroutes web traffic through different international locations, consisting of more than 7,000 individual relays. This multi-layered routing makes it nearly impossible to ascertain what content a user is viewing while using the browser. Its inbuilt focus on privacy and anonymity are an excellent prospect for bypassing your filters.

“Accidental” Image Viewing

A slightly trivial “bypass” method, but I’m sure many children have stumbled upon this. Incognito and InPrivate mode browsing tabs still adhere to most safe search filters 4 Things to Keep in Mind When You Go Incognito Online 4 Things to Keep in Mind When You Go Incognito Online Incognito Mode (or private browsing in general) may not be as safe as you think it is. Here are some important things to keep in mind before the next time you do. Read More , dutifully blocking content and relaying the details to concerned parents. However, a user can enter their search, most likely in Google, then select the Image tab, effectively bypassing the safe search filter.

Most of the major search engine providers host and cache content on their own servers, meaning when the search is entered, there is no specific URL to filter, and numerous related images will be displayed.

Google Translate Proxy

This is another bypass method I would expect some children to be aware of. If a URL is blocked, they can use Google Translate as a makeshift proxy 4 Fun Things to Do with Google Translate 4 Fun Things to Do with Google Translate Read More . It is as easy as setting a language you do not speak in the text input field, entering the URL you wish to access, and waiting for Google to automatically translate it.

The “translated” URL will become a link. The site will open in full, albeit within Google Translate. This can be slightly slow, but it is unlikely to be slow enough to discourage a determined mind.

What Can You Do?

It is difficult mitigating against an inquisitive mind with access to all the information the world has, at the click of a button. Simply put, if they are determined, they’ll get access to it. And if it isn’t on your home Internet, it’ll be on a friend’s, or on an unsecured network somewhere else. Younger children will likely crumble when faced with active filtering; teenagers are much more like to take up arms, and engage in battle.

And it is a battle you may well lose.

In this, education is a massive tool. Respectable and acceptable use of the Internet should form a core part of your children’s technological development. Past a certain age, there are likely other things you really should be discussing with them too. Prohibition has never solved a problem, but has certainly created plenty more, and curious mind will remain so — just without the education to go alongside it.

Device usage should also be considered. Do the children really need an all-singing, all-dancing iPhone 6 “to keep in contact with you,” or would a $10 burner do the job just fine? Similarly, you could enforce an “Internet use in family areas only” rule, or bar tablets, laptops, and smartphones from the bedroom at night.

It doesn’t have to be an awful experience, but by taking an active, engaging, and realistic attitude toward your children’s Internet use, they’ll be far more likely to understand and respect your wishes.

Have your children outwitted you? Do they regularly outskirt your filtering attempts? What filtering tools do you employ in your house? Let us know below!

Image Credit: child shows tablet by pathdoc via Shutterstock, Daily Tor Users via Wikimedia Foundation

  1. silvio grijalva
    November 23, 2016 at 9:52 am

    interesting read. i went on here to try and find a way to buypass the parental control restrictions my uncle put in place at my house which he only did because he doesnt trust his son (13) not to do naughty things on the internet while hes over at my place. im a 19 year old living with my slightly deranged grandmother. im getting so desperate to get frisky im honestly considering just buying a new broadband connection for myself. GOD DAMN YOU UNCLE PETER whhhhyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!.
    anyhow thanks for the info you provided.
    yours sincerely silvio (or maybe someone else.... oohhh who knowss oohh)

    • Gavin
      December 1, 2016 at 11:54 am

      Urm. Thanks, I guess. Good luck. Be safe online, please.

  2. luke the fluke
    September 28, 2016 at 4:54 am

    Thanks for all these ideas on how to bypass my parents parental controls

    • Gavin
      December 1, 2016 at 11:58 am

      No problem. Please be safe on the big bad innaneps.

  3. Rob
    July 13, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Good read Gavin! Samsung has made it extremely easy to bypass all parental control apps on a Samsung Android tablet. All you need to do is sign in with the Guest User profile. This can be done without entering ANY profile password and from ANY state the tablet is in, even if it is currently in a restricted profile or parental controlled user profile. When you are done browsing the content you choose via Chrome just push the conveniently located "Delete Guest" button. Your parents will never know because they assume you will be using your locked down profile. The Guest profile will be wiped and none of your history will be discover-able on the device. This only takes seconds.

  4. Reichard
    July 5, 2016 at 11:49 am

    maybe this one can be useful

  5. Islandr
    July 4, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    It's a fight that you should not win.

    If you do, you've just proven that your kids are either lazy or unimaginative.

    • Gavin
      December 1, 2016 at 11:57 am

      Perhaps. But how far is too far? And I think it also depends what you're trying to stop little Timmy and Jane from watching. The mindset of the parent largely takes precedence here. There is always a way, though.

  6. Jackowski
    June 18, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    I must find ways to do much more things like privilege escalation from limited account, extracting restrictions password from iphone backup or decrypting BIOS hash. My dad must find better ways to protect our pcs XD

    • Gavin Phillips
      June 23, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      Good luck - I just used to look at the note on the wall with the password on it.

  7. altnate
    April 27, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    And here I am, using Tails since I was 12 just because I liked Debian. Pressed a tad too many buttons and got welcomed by cute cannibal videos. People used to ask why I was behaving strangely that week.

    • Gavin Phillips
      June 23, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Indeed.

  8. Manu Gond
    April 22, 2016 at 6:44 am

    And now when these kids grow up then their children gonna do the same thing

    • Gavin Phillips
      June 23, 2016 at 2:36 pm

      True. Birthing generation after generation of security obsessed parents-in-waiting.

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