[OLPC Security] A mom's worries

alien alien at MIT.EDU
Wed Nov 28 13:13:47 EST 2007

I'm very concerned about this too, especially because the OLPC systems
are running a unique operating system. This makes it possible to design
malicious software that specifically targets these laptops-- or in other
words, malicious software written with the knowledge that there is very
likely a child at the other end of the keyboard.

The laptop includes a camera, which means spyware could capture video.
Attackers could write viruses to harvest IM screen names and email
addresses from OLPC systems, and sell them to pedophiles on the web.

The issues of parental supervision that you've brought up are huge. I
would definitely want to know who my child is talking to, and where they
are surfing! This issue is especially in developing countries where
parents have no familiarity with computers.

Are there any tools in development for parental monitoring and control?


Betty Dingus wrote:
> This list is way too technical for me, but I didn't see anywhere else to
> post. Some of my friends want to order the XO through Give One, Get One,
> but they're really worried about protecting their kids from porn and
> other bad things. One said ,
> "My biggest concern about the XO is protecting my children: (1) from
> predators, etc. on the Internet or who get into the "mesh", (2) from
> accidentally or purposefully getting inappropriate emails and ads and
> (3) from accidentally or purposefully accessing inappropriate web
> sites.  I wonder if it's possible, when I'm not around to supervise, for
> me to remove access to email and the Internet (and thus meshing too
> since another XO that's connected to the Internet can share it with
> non-connected XO's)?   I don't know a lot about computers, but have been
> learning about children circumventing filters by using the wireless
> connection of neighbors (that haven't bothered to secure their
> connection).  Besides maybe thinking I'm overly protective, do you have
> any knowledge/ideas about these concerns?  On wikipedia I read a news
> article about the XO being used by children in some country to see and
> store porn and thus causing the maker to add filtering software (gosh,
> you'd think they would have done that to begin with!), but that doesn't
> address much of what I'm concerned about and filters don't nearly catch
> everything.  I know my big bulky home computer isn't free of some of
> these problems either, but I can supervise it's use (it's in a high
> traffic area with the screen pointing to where everyone can see) much
> easier than with a laptop.  Any laptop would be more prone to such
> problems, but especially the XO with it's meshing feature."
> What can I tell her besides, Bitfrost will be installed?
> An XO pusher,
> Betty
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