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welshTerrier2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-24-06 04:57 PM
Original message
internet monitoring software recommendations
Edited on Fri Feb-24-06 05:18 PM by welshTerrier2
i'm looking for recommendations on software that provides the ability to "spy" on someone who's using a computer on a home network ...

i've found a number of products that provide this capability but was hoping someone here had experience using one and could provide a recommendation ...

the primary goal is to monitor chat room activity (and probably email as well) ... there is not much interest in blocking the activity but rather having a log of exactly what was said by all participants ... the specific chat room software being used is provided by a free user hosting service called ...

the "spying" software would have to be totally invisible to anyone other than the installer ... while real-time, remote monitoring from another machine on the network might provide a small benefit, this feature is not absolutely necessary ... what would be nice, however, is the ability to store the log file that gets created on a remote machine (on the same LAN) ... this would, of course, require that remote machine to be on at all times ... storing the file on the computer to be monitored is slightly less desirable because it would require confidential access to the machine or a "hidden share" to be created so that the log file could be accessed from another machine on the network ...

some of the products i've looked at so far are:

spector pro: /
win spy:

any comments would be greatly appreciated ...

btw, for those who question whether doing this is ethical, i'd be interested in hearing from you as well ... trust me, if we do this, it will be done for purely benevolent reasons ...
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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-24-06 09:59 PM
Response to Original message
1. Not much help here, but ...
Edited on Fri Feb-24-06 10:47 PM by RoyGBiv
I had a guy ask me to do something like this for him. I felt weird about it and eventully decided I wouldn't try to do it for anyone again, but it gave me the opportunity to try out some of the software written to allow these kinds of things. The main problem I continued to run into over and over again was that spyware removal tools, anti-virus software, and firewalls tend to detect it and either try to remove it or block it. At the very least they alert the user to what is happening. I wasn't trying to do this over a network, so you might be able to get around some of this, but also consider this from the "features" list of Win-Spy."

Win Spy also has a the ability to seek out and Destroy Anti-Spy Softwares. These softwares are destroy before they detect Win-Spy or when someone tries to install them. The purpose of this is so that users will not be able to remove Win-Spy. After all, what is the point of having a monitoring system if your child can easily install an Anti-Spy software and remove Win-Spy.

Personally, I'm not installing anything on my system that has the ability to *seak out and destroy* software I have previously installed to protect my system. This is a feature? Sounds like malware in a pretty package. IOW, just by placing the spy tools on your system, you may be putting your computer at risk. (I'm also a bit nervous about installing anything that has a webpage written in English with so many typos/bad spelling/poor grammar in it. Brings to mind a lot of the foreign scam artists.)

If you have the know-how, you can do something like this with a packet sniffer, but that would definitely take a lot of time to set up, including time devoting to filtering what you get from the sniffing so that you have useable data.

I'm not real clear on how this works -- never set it up personally -- but you might be able to do some real-time monitoring with remote desktop if you have WinXP Pro, although I'm not sure if that would be entirely invisible to the other user. I suspect not, but it's a suggestion. I know at my workplace IT sometimes logs in to our workstations to monitor what we are doing, and the only real clue we have they are doing this is a slight flicker of the screen when they connect and the occasional idiot who accidentally starts typing or moves the mouse. (When you're connected remotely, you actually have control over the other computer if you want it.)

Personally, before going this route, I would look for logs or artifacts of discussions in temp folders somewhere. If you have administrative control over the network, you could even browse through e-mails without the other person's knowledge.

As for the ethics of it, I'm iffy on it. Obviously I had a problem with helping someone do it, but it was more because I came to realize he was a paranoid freak trying to find something to be mad about, and I knew I couldn't just know if random people asking me to do this were doing it for good or bad reasons. So, when asked, I just say I don't know how to avoid the problem. (And without putting more work into it than I care to, I don't know how to do it on a system that has decent protections from this sort of thing in place. Doing it on a clueless person's system would be easy because you don't have to worry about them looking for it or even protecting against it.) I'd say that if it has something to do with a child, the ethics of it are purely your own. I don't spy on my daughter, not intentionally, but that's because she's pretty open with me about what she does and gives me the opportunity to tell her when she's gone off course ... and she tends to listen to that. But, I'm lucky. If she were a typical teenager, I might act differently.

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