Sometimes children have good intentions, but not the best judgment when it comes to spending time on the computer. A few months ago I decided to write a simple application to manage the access to our home computer network for our family. I did not want to try to use built in policy editing in Windows, just make a simple program that would self-update and allow any user to login to any computer.
It would track the time used on the network daily and warn, then stop users access after a pre-configured period of time. What started out to be a simple application turned out to be a learning process for me and the family. Once this program is complete, the plan is to open source it and offer it free to all (I love my neighbor see #2). The two main goals of the application are a) easy to use and b) secure enough to make it fairly difficult to bypass. This program is currently written using Borland C++ Builder 6. Below is the current feature list (all features have been thoroughly tested by my family):
– Optional auto-logout feature when logged on user is inactive for xx seconds
– Users can swap time with others (if enabled by administrator)
– Monitors/Displays System CPU Usage
– Friendly with games (DirectX, OpenGL, etc)
– Multiple levels of fail-safety, making it difficult for smart users to bypass. (not impossible though)
– Administrator can specify which days of the week users are allowed to login
– Administrator can specify what start and end time are valid each day for users to login
– All used time is captured and tracked.
– Administrator can enable unlimited mode, so users time does not accumulate.
– Administrator may give Bonus time to individual users
– Administrator may disable users
– Multiple user group access
– Works with Windows 2000 and higher
– Anti-debugger checking
– Self checking logic to see if program has been hacked
– Self replacing logic when clever users try to modify the program
– Internally encrypted critical program data
– Works offline if server cannot be contacted (logon is disabled)
– Disables Task Manager
– Disabled Windows Taskbar (when not logged in)
– Disables Atl-Tab (when not logged in)
– Friendly with screen savers
– Supports fast user switching
The main idea here is not to be hack proof, just secure enough to make it not worth most peoples time to try to bypass, and just learn to apply discipline and use the amount of time that your family can agree is reasonable, during reasonable times of the day. I cannot stress the important of “family” and “agree”. To use this software in a draconian way would be more damaging (in my opinion) that any value you could get from it, but that is up to you.