How to prevent your kids from bypassing time limits
TimesUpKidz was built with security in mind. When you follow the steps below it
is very difficult to defeat/hack.
Make sure each child has a Limited/Standard Windows user account. Unlike
Administrator accounts, Limited/Standard users can't uninstall TimesUpKidz,
change the computer clock, set time limits, or kill the program via the Windows
Task Manager. You can configure Windows user accounts with the User Accounts area
in the Windows Control Panel. Or click the "Manage Windows user accounts" link
on the main TimesUpKidz screen.
Make sure each Administrator account has a tough-to-guess password.
Administrators (that's you!) can set time limits, change the computer clock, and
uninstall the program. So it is very important that these user accounts are
protected with passwords that the kids don't know and can't guess. You can set
your password via the User Accounts area in the Windows Control Panel. Don't
forget your password, or you may need to reinstall Windows.
Sometimes parents ask "how do I put a password on the TimesUpKidz program?" It
doesn't work that way. Instead you put a password on your Windows user account,
as described above. When you want to set time limits, you first log on to your Windows
user account (password required) and then start up the TimesUpKidz program (no
password required). Don't forget to choose Log Off, Lock, or Switch User from
the Windows Start menu each time you are done using the computer. A quick
way to do this is to press WindowsKey+L. Otherwise one of your kids can
sit down at the computer, start TimesUpKidz (just as you would), and grant
themselves unlimited time or worse, uninstall the program. If you think you
might forget to log off, consider password-protecting your desktop with the
Windows screen saver; here are the instructions for
If you've got teenagers or very tech-savvy kids who will probably go to
extreme lengths to bypass the limits you've set, consider implementing the steps
below. Because following these instructions can be confusing and difficult, you
might want to wait until you see that your child has bypassed the software
before doing any of them.
Put a password on the hidden Administrator account.
On Windows XP there is a user account named "Administrator" that is hidden,
disabled, and has a blank password. But this account can be used to log on to
the computer in Windows Safe Mode. To set a password on this account click
Start and then click Run.
Type cmd and press OK. Type
net user administrator * and press Enter.
Password protect the BIOS.
In order for TimesUpKidz to properly enforce time limits, it needs to know the
correct time. It determines the time by using the computer's hardware
clock. Once Windows has started, Windows prevents people with Limited/Standard user accounts
from changing the time. But it is possible to change the clock by bypassing
Microsoft Windows and accessing the computer manufacturer's "BIOS Setup" screen.
The BIOS Setup screen is a place where you can change the computer clock and
configure other low-level items that affect the functioning of the computer.
Likewise, it is possible for very tech-savvy kids to bypass Microsoft Windows entirely by booting the computer from a CD/DVD with a different
operating system, and then tampering with Microsoft Windows or using an alternate operating system. To prevent these types of
sophisticated attacks, configure the
hardware BIOS settings to boot first from the hard disk rather than from a
floppy disk or CD/DVD. And then password-protect the hardware BIOS settings to
prevent tampering with the clock and boot sequence. The specific way you enter
the BIOS varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. On some Dell computers, for
example, a small message says "Press F2 for Setup" immediately after you turn on
the computer. Usually the message disappears after being shown for just a second
or two, so you may need to reboot the computer repeatedly, or look at the
computer manufacturer's web site to figure out how to get into the BIOS. If you
set a password on the BIOS, it is extremely important that you do not forget
the BIOS password.
A child can bypass TimesUpKidz by reinstalling Windows from
scratch, which will wipe out TimesUpKidz and any other program on the
computer. Similarly a child could use a "restore" or "backup" diskette and
revert the computer to the way it used to be before you installed TimesUpKidz.
Consider hiding the
Windows installation CD and other restore/backup diskettes.