Index.dat files & tracking son’s Internet activity

Discussion in 'privacy general' started by Stro, Jun 4, 2004.

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  1. Stro

    Stro Registered Member

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    I have a 16 yr old son and want to be able to see which internet sites he has visited. This use to be easy on my old Win98 PC. I would look in the Internet Explorer URL drop down box and the Windows’ Cookie folder, Temp Internet Files folder and History folder.

    Now that we have two Windows XP PCs, the task is more difficult. Individual files are no longer listed in the Windows’ Cookie, Temp Internet Files and History folders. Rather, the list of files have been replaced by a single, binary format Index.dat file (one Index.dat file for each of the three folders).

    Through a Google research of Index.dat files, I learned their contents can be viewed (John Marcovich’s Index.dat Viewer program seems to be very popular), but Index.dat contents cannot be selectively edited. The options for dealing with the Index.dat files seem to be: 1) leave it alone to keep accumulating data, 2) delete the Index.dat at boot-up using third-party software (Windows XP regenerates new Index.dat files), or 3) overwrite with zeros & blanks the entrie contents of a Index.dat file with third-party software such as Tracks Eraser from AceSoft. I understand that clearing the History and Temp Internet files using IE’s Internet Options or Norton CleanSweep does not wipe clean the Index.dat file contents.

    Can you much more knowledgeable people confirm that I have a correct understanding of Index.dat files? I’d like to be able to clean some stuff out of the Index.dat files, but leave other stuff in, but this isn’t possible at this time, right? And if I cannot selectively clean them, then I’d like to periodically wipe clean the Index.dat files, so I’d like some recommendations on software & procedures for doing this efficiently and easily.

    Thank you for your advice.

    Regards,
    Stro
     
  2. Oremina

    Oremina Registered Member

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  3. Oremina

    Oremina Registered Member

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    Stro

    Further to my last.

    This of course will completely delete all the index.dat files. Another way - I use (and can recommend) a small program called SystemSecuritySuite by Igor Shpak which will clean the index.dat on reboot. It has never caused me any problems. But I have tried the ref I gave you for no other reason than to see if it worked... and it did.

    I don't know of any way to just partially delete them though, sorry.

    (If you want another recommendation try Firefox, its very easy to delete the cache without chasing all over your PC, and the cache is readable, if you have the patience and/or the need.) ;)
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2004
  4. infoman

    infoman Guest

    One thing to remember with 3S is it does delete index.dat files, but they are still recoverable on the disk with certain recovery software. You must overwrite the free space(many times) to really delete them beyond recovery.
     
  5. Oremina

    Oremina Registered Member

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    That's where Eraser comes in. All this is particularly easy with Firefox where there is just one folder and it is easy to right click on it and Erase it, or drag it to Bin and erase. Another nice freebie!

    :D
     
  6. Paul Wilders

    Paul Wilders Administrator

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    Call me old fashioned - and no offense intended! - but IMHO the best solution here is not spying on a childs behaviour, but establishing a relationship based on mutual trust.

    regards.

    paul
     
  7. spy1

    spy1 Registered Member

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    "Mutual trust" is a wonderful thing, but given the fact that - legally - the computer's owner is responsible for the contents of the computer, I'd have to say that a program such as Index.dat Suite is a definite asset to a parent to get a clear picture as to whether there are any issues that need to be addressed (visits to either porn, radical or other dangerous sites).

    Especially since it has the ability to "Find" all index.dat files on all profiles, and can be set to simply delete the ones you want deleted, without having to delete your own, or ones of no concern (which is about as close to "individual deletion" as she's likely to find, although not exactly what she wants).

    Of course, it too (I.dS) has to followed by an "Eraser" run to securely erase anything un-wanted that's found.

    Anyone with access to your computer is a potential security threat and can cause a breach - being able to keep a general eye on what sites are being visited on any account can help prevent both computer problems (due to hijacks, installed malware, etc.) potential legal problems (due to content) and even disasterous life-shattering experiences (such as if your children are visiting anarchist-type sites preparatory to visiting their schools armed to the teeth and with an agenda).

    It's a lot to think about. Pete
     
  8. gerardwil

    gerardwil Registered Member

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    I am getting a dirty taste in my mouth when i think of spying my kids. And I think my kids even dirtier. In our case we have a different way of communicate to eachother.
     
  9. spy1

    spy1 Registered Member

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    This thread isn't about "family values" or "how to raise your kids" - it's in response to a specific question by the thread starter that inquires how to check on visited websites.

    My response attempts to address the answer to that initial question - where are you going with your response? Pete
     
  10. Dazed_and_Confused

    Dazed_and_Confused Registered Member

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    Pete - Your are right-on here, good buddy. :) Sounds like Paul's post may be even a little off-topic (I just had to say that...). :p
     
  11. gerardwil

    gerardwil Registered Member

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    quote: tracking son’s Internet activity

    That's half of the thread. And the other part (index.dat files) is already a thread under software and services.
    I just gave my opinion on the first part.

    Gerard
     
  12. Ruffian

    Ruffian Guest

    You can't do that with index.dat files for reasons already stated . You need to use the command line version on bootup for that.
     
  13. Oremina

    Oremina Registered Member

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    Hi Ruffian

    The ref I gave (spywareinfo) in my first post, and SystemSecuritySuite, will both get rid of the index.dat files, but as pointed out by infoman, they could be recovered with certain recovery software. In the context of a family environment surely using Eraser and the possibility or not of their recovery is a moot point.

    However, if thought necessary, Eraser could be utilised to clean all the unused disk space etc....which would erase where the deleted index.dat files were and make their recovery much more difficult.

    I also believe Javacool's MRUBlaster will securely delete some, if not all of the .dat files (if I remember correctly all but the history dat?)

    With Firefox, AFAIK the cache is in one place and is as easy to delete using Eraser as any other file, which to my mind is one of the (many) advantages of Firefox over IE6. It is not the same problem as securely deleting IE6 index.dat files.


    Regards


    :)
     
  14. Ruffian

    Ruffian Guest

    Yes, but that is a very roundabout way of doing it, and it takes time to clean all unusued disk space.

    What you need to do is to create a batch file , with something like this

    eraserd.exe -file C:\DOCUME~1\<username>\Cookies\index.dat -passes 8
    eraserd.exe -file C:\DOCUME~1\<username>\LOCALS~1\History\index.dat -passes 8
    eraserd.exe -file C:\DOCUME~1\<username>\LOCALS~1\TEMPOR~1\Content.IE5\index.dat -passes 8

    etc. Stick it into your autorun registry. Done!

    Of course.
     
  15. Paul Wilders

    Paul Wilders Administrator

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    Agreed on both.

    It boils down to very easy and simple issues:

    - don't allow access to a system one owns - and make sure to trust the one(s) you give access.
    - allow access to a system - and don't spy on them.

    Pete - no offense intended - but your arguments are all about moral values - especially family values and raising kids.

    regards.

    paul
     
  16. spy1

    spy1 Registered Member

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    Re: Index.dat files & tracking son’s Internet activity

    Whatever, Paul. Pete
     
  17. Paranoid2000

    Paranoid2000 Registered Member

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    With regard to family Internet access, the best solution in my view is the low-tech one - place the computer in the living room and make Internet browsing a family experience, shared by all. This will do more than anything to discourage wandering on the "wild side" - and if you pick up any spyware or browser hijackers that *do* throw up inappropriate content, you can see it happen there and then rather than draw the wrong conclusions when checking browser logs later.
     
  18. solarpowered candle

    solarpowered candle Registered Member

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    echo paul;. I cannot believe that one would spy on their own children lol I suppose hacking is also condoned to track there internet usage . Paranoides idea is a sound one .
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2004
  19. spy1

    spy1 Registered Member

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    I totally stand behind my response #7, which was clear, concise, logical and directly aimed at the question asked at the beginning of the thread.

    You people, including you, Paul, may take this thread as much further off-topic as you want.

    The original poster's question has been abundantly (and accurately) answered.
     
  20. Dazed_and_Confused

    Dazed_and_Confused Registered Member

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    Agreed.

    Agreed.

    First let me way that I do agree having a dialog with your kids is #1, and I would agree that listening in on a verbal conversations is "spying". A private converstaion between two people is an inherant right. I would say the same goes for written correspondence. However, monitoring URL's visited by someone using your computer is not "spying", especially if you tell someone it's a condition of use. Using my PC is a priviledge, not an inherant right. I assume you would also say a mom cannot monitor the TV shows / channels their kids watch.
     
  21. solarpowered candle

    solarpowered candle Registered Member

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    Stro mentioned that there were two PC s in her family . We dont know if her son owned the second .
    I did not think that wilders endorsed spying or monitoring on any one .( whether its a child or adult- You can go to plenty of underground forums to learn to do that)
    I have a 17 year old son and he is not a Kid . He has a student loan bigger than my mortgage and has to live away in another part of the country in order to attend university . A 16 yr old is not a kid . A 5 yr old is a kid who may need there tv watching to be monitored.
     
  22. Justhelping

    Justhelping Guest

    Perhaps all the people involved here should just cool down.
     
  23. Stro

    Stro Registered Member

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    Well, looks like I started quite a debate here.

    Thanks to Oremina, spy1 and Ruffian for staying on-topic and answering my question. Since any reference to the index.dat files ended many posts ago, I assume all that needs to be said about index.dat has been posted.

    I tallied the replies to my question and found 7 were on-topic, and 13 were off-topic. I do agree with you who advocate establishing a dialog with your child and developing mutual trust. In fact, my wife and I feel so strongly about the importance of raising children that she quit work shortly after receiving her Master's degree for 10 years to devote her time to raising our two children, now 16 and 12. We could have had literally hundreds of thousands of dollars more in our retirement account and be making a lot higher income now, but we felt giving our children the best upbringing we could was more important.

    And while we do our best at establishing dialog/mutual trust, we believe responsible parenting does not stop there. While our sons are minors, legally and morally under our care, it is our right and responsibility to know who they associate with, where they go (in the real world and cyber world) and what they do. When my 16 year old takes the car to spend the night at his friend's house, we will occasionally call the friend's parents to verify my son is actually there. And after we have our dialog on internet usage, it's my right and responsibility to audit my son's internet activity. You know, after our dialog, I poked around in the computer and found my son likes 8thstreetlatinas, cumfiesta and bignaturals.com! Gee, maybe dialog alone doesn't always work on a 16 year old with hormones a-poppin ? ! ? ! ?

    I think my viewpoint is shared by the vast majority of American parents.

    Regards,
    Stro
     
  24. Oremina

    Oremina Registered Member

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    I've watched this thread from Stro's first posting asking for advice about index.dat files and have watched it drift off topic slightly as people put their two cents in about the moral side of all this.

    I think that of all the posts in this thread, probably the best thought out and most heartfelt is Stro's latest.

    It sits ill with me to see obviously loving and caring parents being accused of spying because they are concerned with the surfing habits of their children.
    Young men are going to visit porn sites and caring parents will be concerned about the behaviour of their offspring. The world has ever been so.

    I've been there, done that, got the T-shirt. I now have teenage grandsons and I know what a nightmare they have been on occasion, by downloading such rubbish as Gator etc.... trojan horses from on- line gaming, etc. I dread to think what other sites they have visited, but given the opportunity when I was a teenager I'd have been no different and the attitude of my parents would have been no different to that of Stro and his wife. Being concerned doesn't mean we love them less dearly.

    But I must say I think Stro has been treated just a little harshly with accusations of "spying", when he is, IMHO, just showing correct and proper parental concern.

    Good luck to you Stro. Bringing up a family is a long struggle and at times can seem a thankless task, but worth it in the end.

    (And I promise that's my last word on the subject)....

    :D
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2004
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