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Is there any software for Windows that can monitor the activity of my children - what pages they are visiting, what they type, what passwords they use etc?

I'm looking for something that's hard to detect and delete/disable, and can be permitted by antivirus software (or simply not detected by it).

I don't want to restrict the pages in advance as I don't want them to know I'm watching them.

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I can't figure out if wanting the passwords to whatever sites they use or not wanting them to know what a crazy overprotective parent you are is worse. –  Tomas Cokis Oct 15 '11 at 19:19
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I’m a bit confused. Why would you want to do this? If you don’t trust a child, they’ll simply find ways to do things without your knowledge, and without you to go to if they need help. Besides, people often want to do things simply because they aren’t supposed to. –  Jon Purdy Oct 15 '11 at 22:08
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Frankly, they could get around anything you do just by popping in a LiveCD. I agree with Jon here - this is a communication issue, not a software issue. –  new123456 Oct 15 '11 at 23:45
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If necessary is the mother of invention, then eluding restrictions is the second. They will find a way to get around anything you put in place. –  waterwizard11 Oct 16 '11 at 0:51
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It's worth pointing out that, ethics aside, this approach will only work right up until you confront them about the first instance of whatever behaviour you object to. From there on in, they'll know you're snooping and any advice here will be completely useless. –  detly Oct 16 '11 at 5:18
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closed as not constructive by techie007, Diago Oct 16 '11 at 19:11

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3 Answers

If this is a desktop computer that will not be leaving the house, will always connect to the home internet connection. Set your router's DNS to the OpenDNS service and set up an account. You can then get monitoring reports of each and every website they've been to and select levels of filtering if you want.

Every computer on your network will use the DNS addresses specified by the router, and the filtering will be completely transparent to the kids.

If you want to see what they're typing on those sites, you'd need a keylogger or parental control software of some sort. The most important thing there is that your kids only be able to use limited user accounts and that you don't ever give them the password to the admin account with which you'd control the computer.

Regarding the monitoring software coexisting with your virus software: You shouldn't try to find a tool that can hide from the AV, you should find a tool that's legitimate and thus can coexist with the AV software without raising alarms. Most AV software allow you to choose applications to "whitelist" so that even if the software behaves in a way the AV software thinks is suspicious, it will leave it alone.

UPDATE:

Making a house rule that all computers are always kept in the living room or dining room or den or other open and public room that everybody has access to all the time can be as good a filter and monitor as anything else.

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thank you.. but there is 1 problem. They have to use the admin account, because they need to install many sort of sw needed in school and some games they play etc.. i don't want to allow these sort of things manually foreach one / for the limited account. I would prefer also some keylogger that is very hard to identify. –  peter Oct 15 '11 at 17:27
    
You're going to have to control the software they install, though. If they can install games and school stuff, they can peek around and find your sniffer software. That's probably why the DNS solution is best. Because it's outside the computer there's very little that will clue them that they're being monitored. Besides Keyloggers just give you a bunch of letters and numbers and no context. You can't necessarily tell easily which app they typed those letters in and you have to sort it all out yourself. It's a whole lot of work, probably more than you're anticipating. –  music2myear Oct 15 '11 at 17:36
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aside from the slight clue in that they're the only kids mandated by a parent to use a particular dns server, which they can easily identify. Assuming you do a good job of firewalling and avoid them going directly to a public dns or your isp dns (which i'm willing to bet you wont), i wouldnt be suprised if within a short while the only urls you get back are proxy websites. ... Or your neighbours / cops come calling wanting to know why your kids are stealing their wifi. –  Sirex Oct 16 '11 at 6:48
    
@music2myyear: Any filtering scheme will mean that the kids can trivially figure out that the content is being filtered. After that they'll start digging around. That's assuming that OpenDNS (for example) doesn't pop up a nice obtrusive "You're not allowed to go here, courtesy of OpenDNS (tm)". –  jprete Oct 16 '11 at 15:52
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You do want to restrict the pages in advance, to protect them from content they should not get to see.

Surveillance / keyloggers of which they don't know is a breach in their privacy, even though they won't know it can end up painful for them the moment they found out that you watched them in private. When they do something wrong then you didn't protect them of visitting the site (now they are shocked), only to tell them that you watched them afterwards (now they are shocked again).

Don't just let things happen, take preventive measurements. It's like watching your child fall of a ledge because you didn't place a fence, if you place the fence it didn't happen in the first place...

If you want to know what they are doing, spent time with them or visit them occasionally...

There are always their logs and history if you do want to check on them, but don't confront them directly.

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Tom, good points. Once my kids get old enough to use the computer there'll be limited accounts, basic filtering, and no computers in the bedrooms. All the computers'll be in a main room where all the screens can be seen all the time. If you don't feel comfortable doing something in front of the whole family, you shouldn't feel comfortable doing it at all. –  music2myear Oct 15 '11 at 17:38
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i really can't agree at all with this. if my computer was in the family rooms i'd never have taken up programming as a hobby, gained computer security as an interest, and ultimately taken the career path in I.T that i have. –  Sirex Oct 15 '11 at 20:20
    
@Sirex: A computer in the family room does not imply that, unless your parently explictly objected you to do so in that case. Also, at a certain age you can get like a second computer so time sharing shouldn't be a problem either. You probably have a good reason for it, but I think that it wouldn't be of a big issue... –  Tom Wijsman Oct 15 '11 at 21:18
    
Good as all this advice is, it's falling on deaf ears (of the OP). Looks like s/he has responded/is receptive to the only answer which actually talks about surveillance techniques - superuser.com/questions/346927/… –  talonx Oct 16 '11 at 3:53
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"Surveillance / keyloggers of which they don't know is a breach in their privacy" And using a keylogger or any other kind of malware is teaching children that computer crime is OK. –  curiousguy Oct 16 '11 at 7:09
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If they have admin privileges, then there is nothing stopping them from killing the keylogger.

Plus getting a keylogger and parsing through the files everyday takes time.

This is time better off spend talking to them and gaining your trust.

If you think their internet surfing habits are a nightmare, then wait until they get out of the house and actually act on those wishes.

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Agreed here. Speaking from experience, your teens will find out. It may not happen for a while, it may not even have something to do with their computers - it's easy to accidentally let something slip in conversation. Once that happens, you lose their trust and will be in an even worse situation than you believe yourself to be in now. –  Izkata Oct 15 '11 at 21:35
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