Parental Controls bypass?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Evangelion, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. Evangelion macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    I noticed that my in-laws 13-year old kid spends all his time glued to their iMac. I know that his user-account has parental controls enabled, and his computer-time is limited. I talked with him about it, and he mentioned that "Those time-limits are useless, since I can easily bypass them". He wouldn't tell me how he does it, though.

    So, how could he bypass the controls? I'm asking because I would like to be able to plug that hole (if possible), so he would do something else than sit by the computer all the time.

    "Discussing" the matter with a frigging 13-year old who thinks he knows everything is next to useless.

    Alternatively: is there a third-party parenting-app that would offer more robust features that the OS X built-in toold do?
  2. ppc750fx macrumors 65816

    Aug 20, 2008
    Nope. There's not a single thing you can do to stop him from using the machine as he sees fit. Yes, you can make it more difficult, but as long as he's got physical access to the box it's essentially his.

    Parental Controls works pretty well in my experience (certainly better than the third party solutions that I've used.) You can use LaunchAgents or LaunchDaemons to "refresh" his account (i.e. restore its settings back to a set of defaults every login/boot), and you can certainly harden the system a bit if you're willing to do some hacking -- but the reality of it is that as long as he can physically access the machine he can get root.

    Probably not the answer you wanted to hear... sorry!
  3. Evangelion thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    Yes, I'm aware that giving the user physical access to the machine means that knowledgeable hacker can bypass anything. But I know that he's not using any sort of physical hack (boot-CD's etc). He just does something that allows him to bypass the time-limits set by parental controls.

    We are not really talking about an uber-hacker here :).
  4. Ed91 macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2007
  5. ppc750fx macrumors 65816

    Aug 20, 2008
    This is probably your best bet. If you patch one hole, the next thing he's going to do is start searching for instructions on how to bypass the rest of the protections.
  6. Evangelion thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    That seems to be about bypassing app-limits and the "simple finder". He has no app-limits, we are dealing with time-limits here.

    As for the removing the powercord or disconnecting the internet.... I'm not sure how that would work. It's the family's shared iMac. It does have other users besides him, removing the power or cutting the internet would harm others as well.

    That said, is there a way to disconnect internet for certain user only?
  7. ScoobyMcDoo macrumors 65816

    Nov 26, 2007
    Austin, TX
    So, I have 14 year old twins. I don't have the problem you talk of very often, but when I do, I simply tell the child to get off the computer and go outside. That seems to work very well - you might tell your in-laws to try it.

    I tried using the parental controls just for limiting what web sites they could visit - teenage boys do have raging hormones after all. But it seemed to be too restrictive, and I was constantly having to add exceptions - what a pita. So, I turned it off and started using opendns - been really happy with their services.
  8. hailst0rm macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2008
    I'm not sure if he is using a workaround. The more likely explanation is that its just buggy. I've seen quite a few mentions that it doesn't force to you log out when the time limit is up. I've also experienced this myself when I've had a play with it. Maybe it will get fixed in a future update.
  9. Ed91 macrumors 6502

    Dec 22, 2007
    Well, I've had a little play with it, and wasn't able to circumvent the time out process in any way that I came up with. It seems to use fast user switching as opposed to fully logging the user out, which may also explain why a few people have had problems as I've read about people having problems with that service too.

    The most obvious question I can ask is: Do you have the guest account enabled for logging in? Otherwise it'd probably be easier for him to just burn a linux Live CD and not bother to use his limited account at all..
  10. hodgeheg macrumors regular

    Dec 7, 2008
    Do you have the machine adequately locked down besides the parental controls?

    Here's hoping he isn't reading this forum too, but...

    Firstly, if you can boot off an OS X CD you can reset the user to an administrative one, thus disabling the controls.

    So to stop that you need to set a firmware password. This should also stop booting into single user mode (hold down command-S on boot) which if you know a bit you can also use to reset passwords.

    Unfortunately, if you have a screwdriver you can reset the firmware password by changing the amount of RAM in the machine and then turning it on.

    I don't know how to evade the time controls specifically (I've never tried), but removing all controls isn't that hard. Probably the only way you can be at all sure is to have controls in your router (some offer this). even then you're assuming there are no other unprotected networks available nearby that he can use instead.

    Similarly without a firmware password, or with it reset, as someone mentioned it is trivial to boot from a linux live CD and then you simply aren't using the Mac's software at all. Another possibility is a second hard disk with a different install on it, in which case again all bets are off.

    I take it also that there are no other accounts he can access that are unrestricted?

    Do you have logging enabled? Can you see what he's been getting at/when?

    Sorry this is a bit of a mishmash of thoughts!
  11. VPrime macrumors 68000


    Dec 19, 2008
    London Ontario
    Underestimating him is your first mistake... When I was around that age I would bypass the schools controls, and other various things. Although you may think he doesnt have enough skill to be an "uber hacker" he clearly out smarted the current system right?
    You are forgetting that he has the best tool available to any one who wants to learn how hack/crack/break some thing....... The google.

    IMO, I think the parental controls on a computer are stupid and way to limiting.
  12. Evangelion thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    Well, it seems that his "bypass" is that when his time is up, and he's being locked out of the desktop, he just bashes the keyboard until the system gets confused.

    Like I said; uber-hacker he is not.

    Well, I googled for this, and came up short, even though I would like to think that my Google-fu is better than average. besides, he does not really know how to use Google. My wife asked him to find some basic information from Google, and he was unable to do so. He doesn't really know that much about computers. Yes, he spends a lot of time at the computer, but he spends that time playing Runescape, not learning how the computer actually works.

    As to relying on parenting... That's obviously the first thing to do. But they can't keep their eye on him 24x7, and constantly tell him to get off the computer.
  13. Pixellated macrumors 65816

    Apr 1, 2008
    That game is the *biggest* waste of time ever. It is just useless. The only thing it is good for is teaching epople to type faster.
  14. BenEndeem macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2008
    Setup screen sharing in preferences on his account on the iMac (without telling him of course); chances are he won't find out because why would he be looking for something that isn't limiting him? Anyway, when you know it is near his limit, login to screen share with the iMac.

    You'll find your answer that way; and see it with your own eyes :cool: .
  15. Evangelion thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    Well, I don't know when his limits are up. I think he has "X hours a day"-type setup, so knowing when the time is up is quite hard.

    But your idea is intriguing and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter....
  16. rockstarjoe macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2006
    washington dc
    Let us celebrate our arrangement with the adding of chocolate to milk...

    (Sorry I have nothing useful to add, just couldn't pass up the opportunity)
  17. bluewolfer macrumors newbie

    Mar 1, 2009
    Here's a few situations I've found that work around the parental controls:

    1) You can just quickly switch too a program e.g (sim city) and the Time-Limit will expire while you're on it.

    2) You constantly keep switching the computer too sleep, and then back on.

    3) Click on BlueTooth and click the Discoverable option show the check mark is not showing.

    Also if you want you son too stop playing RuneScape simply don't allow access to port 4395 or something like that. But I've realized it also affects my connection to Skype.
  18. JamesGorman macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    just let the kid play on the computer, i used to play on them all the time, maybe hes intrested in them. What does he do on there? is it at least educational? let the kid be maybe he/she will become a programmer or something later on. My parents use to get mad sometimes too so i just bought my own computer lol, now they really dont care since i worked for it.
  19. Bonsai1214 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 15, 2008
    Penfield, NY
    he probably knows the password and goes on the admin account.
  20. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    If you want to filter the Internet usage, you can always set times schedules on the router.

    That would mean owning a router that support it of course and a password.


    Put the computer in a room with a dead bolt.
  21. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    I'm guessing that spending a lot of time on computers when you were young didn't help so much with reading comprehension, then, yeah? ;)

    See above for the answers to your questions.
  22. JamesGorman macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    i didnt read through the whole post. I know i should have but i was to lazy lol. oh well
  23. horseyhannnah10 macrumors newbie


    Mar 9, 2009
    I Would Luv Luv Luv Luv Luv!!!!!!! If He Could Email Me About How He's Hacking The Parental Controls!!!!! My Mom Blocked My Fave Site Facebook My Only Link 2 The Outside Wrld!!!!!!!!!!! :( Im An Addict :D And Luvin It!!!! Pls Pls Pls Tell Him He Must Or He's Having His Mac Taken Away!!!! So Yah Thnx :eek: THAT WOULD CERTAINLY CATCH M ATTETION :mad:

    ask him how 2 find out an admin password w/o asking parents or having friends of parents find out 4 u!! :confused: :( mad: :eek: :D :rolleyes:
  24. Evangelion thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    Not in the slightest. It's just utter waste of time.

    You do not become programmer by playing useless games.

    I admit, I used to spend quite a bit of time by the computer when I was a kid, and I ended up working with computers when I grew up. But I at least had some interest on how computers work. I learned of the hardware, I learned to build my own computers, I did some programming on my spare time etc. He? He sits there and plays Runescape.

    I have tried to get him do something useful with the computer, like use Garageband (he plays guitar occasionally). His answer: "I did try it, it's crap and I'm not interested".
  25. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Posts like this make me want to turn off emoticons...

    You have the Internet, right? Use it. We're not telling you how to bypass parental controls.

    They do it for a reason, you know. Woe upon you the day you get past them and find a little site called OurfayAnchay...:rolleyes:

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