Is someone in my house spying on my internet activity?

shortbreadluver

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2009
9
0
Philadelphia, P.A.
Mods: I wasn't sure which forum to put this in, but this seemed like the most appropriate one. Feel free to move it.

Hi,

My brother has alluded on several occasions that he knows what I sites I visit (he has made references to specific ones). I don't do anything particularly culpable, but naturally I find this very unnerving.

He is also on a Mac, and has administrative access to the router. The router is a Netgear DGN2000 and he also has an Airport Extreme Base Station set up.

Is it possible that he is able to monitor my internet activity? How can I tell if he is? And can I prevent him from doing so?

Thanks.
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
35,743
141
Yeah there are ways but frankly anyone can say they do something, whether they can is another story. Nevertheless, you're a child in your father's home ... if he wishes to track your every move on the internet then it's pretty much his right. Sadly, there's not much you can do about it other than be good.

To be more specific with an answer, you can enable logging on the router and check those logs as well as install various software to monitor website activity.
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
63,843
30,362
Boston
of course he can.

While unnerving, (speaking as a father myself) I think he intends to put you on notice not to be tempted into hitting those sites.

also being his house/computer/network etc. He has every right to monitor and restrict your access. I understand how this can make you feel, but unfettered access to the internet for teenagers may not be the wisest thing. Sounds like he just wants to make sure you don't start doing things that you'll regret sooner or later.
 

DoFoT9

macrumors P6
Jun 11, 2007
17,494
26
Singapore
HA!

to be perfectly honest, i dont think that he is actually "snooping" on you. he is probably using an alternative method. but yea the others are right, its his house he can do what he wants.
 

shortbreadluver

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2009
9
0
Philadelphia, P.A.
Thanks for the responses.

To clarify, it is actually my brother and not my dad who has administrative access to the router and modem, and who made those references. I just thought it would make more sense to say "father".

I don't doubt that he can monitor my internet activity - what I'm interested in is how he's doing it, and if I can circumvent it?
 

rowsdower

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2009
270
1
He could be using a packet analyzer. About the only the you could do to prevent that would be to use a secure proxy or VPN, but that means that you have to have access to a server somewhere else. Otherwise, use secure sites (HTTPS) as much as possible. He will still be able to see what addresses you load, but not the content. That should be some comfort for email at least.
 

DoFoT9

macrumors P6
Jun 11, 2007
17,494
26
Singapore
Thanks for the responses.

To clarify, it is actually my brother and not my dad who has administrative access to the router and modem, and who made those references. I just thought it would make more sense to say "father".

I don't doubt that he can monitor my internet activity - what I'm interested in is how he's doing it, and if I can circumvent it?
most likely through history is my guess, or he is looking thru backup data at the history etc.

a packet analyser would work, but seems a LOT of trouble to me..

airport does not record the websites that you visit, i am not sure about the netgear router, maybe it does?
 

Tower-Union

macrumors 6502
May 6, 2009
445
18
I'm fairly sure Linksys routers can. . . I imagine netgear would be able to as well. You could always look into using Tor if your really paranoid. (Google Tor Project).
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
35,743
141
Thanks for the responses.

To clarify, it is actually my brother and not my dad who has administrative access to the router and modem, and who made those references. I just thought it would make more sense to say "father".

I don't doubt that he can monitor my internet activity - what I'm interested in is how he's doing it, and if I can circumvent it?
Now why would it make more sense to say father instead of brother?

Here's how I read this now ...
You want to snoop on someone in your house and you want to know how to do it so your "brother/father" is you and your brother is likely the one you'd like to snoop on. ;)
 

rowsdower

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2009
270
1
Here's how I read this now ...
You want to snoop on someone in your house and you want to know how to do it so your "brother/father" is you and your brother is likely the one you'd like to snoop on. ;)
I would say it's actually his father who is doing the monitoring. Brother/father isn't really easily confused, brother doesn't make more sense than father to me.
 

iBlue

macrumors Core
Mar 17, 2005
19,174
15
London, England
Now why would it make more sense to say father instead of brother?

Here's how I read this now ...
You want to snoop on someone in your house and you want to know how to do it so your "brother/father" is you and your brother is likely the one you'd like to snoop on. ;)
*offers Jessica tin foil* :D

Though the shenanigans piqued my suspicious curiosity as well. Maybe it's an older brother trying to be a pain in the ass. Maybe it really is Dad. Maybe the internet is a pain the in ass.

Allow me to join in the tinfoil hat brigade.
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
35,743
141
*offers Jessica tin foil* :D

Though the shenanigans piqued my suspicious curiosity as well. Maybe it's an older brother trying to be a pain in the ass. Maybe it really is Dad. Maybe the internet is a pain the in ass.

Allow me to join in the tinfoil hat brigade.
HAHAHA sorry! I am suspicious by nature.
 

arkitect

macrumors 603
Sep 5, 2005
5,910
5,462
Bath, United Kingdom
I would say it's actually his father who is doing the monitoring. Brother/father isn't really easily confused, brother doesn't make more sense than father to me.
Exactly.
If he does get his brother/father confused I'd say the family have issues waaaay beyond browser history snooping… ;)
 

shortbreadluver

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2009
9
0
Philadelphia, P.A.
Now why would it make more sense to say father instead of brother?

Here's how I read this now ...
You want to snoop on someone in your house and you want to know how to do it so your "brother/father" is you and your brother is likely the one you'd like to snoop on. ;)
I'm going to answer quite simply that I'm not.

Now, hopefully we can get back on topic.

He seems to know not just what sites I visit, but how often I frequent them as well.

Based on your suggestions, I'm guessing router logging is the most plausible reason. If so, is there anyway I can circumvent this?
 

Tower-Union

macrumors 6502
May 6, 2009
445
18
I'm going to reiterate my previous post and suggest you install Tor on your computer. If its strong enough for the US Military it should work for you.
 

shortbreadluver

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2009
9
0
Philadelphia, P.A.
VPN or secure proxy is the only way I know of.
Thanks for the suggestion. Could you elaborate on that a little? How would that work out?

I'm going to reiterate my previous post and suggest you install Tor on your computer. If its strong enough for the US Military it should work for you.
I'll definitely look into Tor. I checked out their site, although I'm not sure I fully comprehend how it works. Are there any downsides to using this?
 

shortbreadluver

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Sep 23, 2009
9
0
Philadelphia, P.A.
I'm going off on a tangent here, but since we're on the issue of security, I'd like to bring up some other suspicious behaviour/activity that I've experienced. I know these issues may or may not be related to each other, but perhaps someone could reconcile them for me.

1) Gmail account hacked. I'm pretty certain that my Gmail account was hacked once, because I signed in and saw that I sent some spam eBay email to my entire contact list. I also experienced a period where I would get "incorrect password" errors, when I had entered the correct password.

2) iMac waking without prompting for password. When I was on Leopard, I set my iMac to prompt me for the password upon waking from sleep or screensaver, which was set to 10 minutes. On a few very rare occasions, however, it did not.

While this may or may not be a fault with Leopard, I remember returning home one day and finding that not only was my computer unlocked, but that the tab that I had last left my browser at had changed, suggesting that someone had been snooping.

I've changed my password since, but I'm still unnerved by the experience.

3) Odd mouse behaviour. There was also a period where I experienced very odd behaviour with my mouse cursor. I'd point it to a certain spot, but then it would "jerk" back to a different spot. Maybe this was a fault with the mouse, but it only happened for a day or two, then I never experienced it again.

Any ideas? I've pondered if someone (brother or random internet hacker) is accessing my computer via remote login or has installed a keystroke logger of sort on my computer, but I could just be paranoid.

I intend to do a clean install of Snow Leopard when I've got the time, but any suggestions on how to prevent any kind of breech of security on my Mac again would be appreciated.
 

iBlue

macrumors Core
Mar 17, 2005
19,174
15
London, England
1) When you say you saw that you had sent spam, do you mean this was literally in your sent items? Or did you just hear about it? At the bottom of the page in gmail you can see if you are logged into any other IP addresses. Check that.

2) I don't know about that. Maybe do a repair permissions? (shot in the dark but it can't hurt)

3) Mice can be bastards, especially the mighty mouse. I hated that thing for that exact reason (and many more) and stopped using it. I wouldn't worry about the mouse problem unless you see it deliberately moving around and doing things.
 

CylonGlitch

macrumors 68030
Jul 7, 2009
2,925
109
SoCal
It almost sounds like someone has an admin account on the computer and has turned on parental monitoring. This does basically what he has been saying, basically allows them to see just about everything you've been doing, I think even what you've typed into the computer. Thus that time with no password, they logged in and created the account. It is now hidden from you and you can't see it (guessing you don't have admin rights).

Now it could be something else too; they could have logged in and turned on remote access. Now they can see everything that you are doing and even control your mouse. When you are there, or when you're away.

Go to System Preferences -> Accounts and see if there is a check mark in front of "Enable Parental Controls". If so, they have tons of control over you.
 

whooleytoo

macrumors 604
Aug 2, 2002
6,559
628
Cork, Ireland.
The mouse moving could simply be due to optical mouse issues; on some surfaces the cursor can jump around randomly.

OTOH, it could be that someone is logged onto your site via some Remote Desktop/VNC solution; and may have been moving the cursor at the same time. (Actually happened to me once on my Mac at home and freaked me out!)

Check the Sharing pane in System Preferences, and turn off everything you don't need. In particular, Remote Login and Remote Management should be off if you don't use them.

Probably worthwhile changing the passwords on your Mac (bear in mind there may be other several accounts on your Mac, so just changing one won't keep someone out if they have the password to another).

Likewise, change your email account password.