Monday, February 05, 2007

Parental Controls in Vista

One of the exciting new features available in Windows Vista are the Parental Controls. These controls will help you, as a responsible parent, to allow your children to use the technology that is available for them in a safe and monitored environment.

Of course, as with anything that is new to us, getting our heads around how to actually use it can be a bit daunting. My friends at Bleeping Computer have just produced a great guide that will hopefully take a little of the head scratching out of setting up your Parental Controls.

With the launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft has introduced a new security feature called Windows Parental Controls. Windows Parental Controls allows a parent to configure, on a per user basis, various restrictions on what that user can do on the computer. These settings range from blocking websites to controlling what games they can play. Having access to these types of controls allows a parent to feel comfortable with their children using a computer and at the same time gives them the flexibility to customize these settings to their specific needs.

It is important to note that not all programs are compatible with Windows Parental Controls. In order for Windows Parental Controls to properly monitor and control certain activities on the computer, the application must be compatible with this new service. For the most part, most of the settings can be enforced across all applications, but it is important to test these controls using the applications that your users will be using. This way you know for sure that any restriction you put into place can be enforced. It is also important to note that Windows Parental Controls can only be assigned to a Standard User, which is a user with limited rights on the computer, and cannot be assigned to accounts that are configured as an Administrator. This is so a user cannot remove restrictions placed on them.

One of the more powerful features of this new service is that you will be able to view reports of the activity for each user that you have configured Parental Controls. The information you see will be determined by whether or not the user is using applications that are compatible with Windows Parental Controls. Assuming that all the applications are compatible you will be able to monitor the following activity.

  • Most recent websites blocked.
  • Attempts to visit sites that have been specifically blocked or allowed.
  • What files were downloaded.
  • What file downloads were blocked.
  • When the user logged on.
  • What programs they have run.
  • Emails sent and received
  • Instant Messages sent and received.
  • What games were played.
  • What media such as movies and videos were played.

For the full tutorial, please visit Setting up Windows Vista Parental Controls


Chris Gunn said...


The problem with the implementation of Parental Controls in Windows Vista is it creates a "severe" security risk for trojans like PCTattletale. Microsoft has made their primary resource (the keylogger) a part of the operating system.

It's also very poor ethics to impose this censorship program on the majority of people that don't need it. The fact they don't provide a way to remove it makes me wonder what backdoors the government was allowed.

Thanks, Chris