Widespread Malware Campaign Hacks Over 100,000 Routers

It’s a not-so-happy Halloween for over 100,000 families this year.

 

A new malware campaign dubbed “GhostDNS” has hacked over 100,000 home routers in an attempt to steal passwords and other login information, particularly targeting online banking information. The Hacker News breaks down the technical details of GhostDNS here. This attack comes only a few years after the infamous DNSChanger, a similar malware system which infected millions of computers in 2012 and again in 2016.

 

We’re happy to report that Clean Routers were NOT affected by this attack. Our robust security system and constant monitoring (made possible by our monthly subscription model) allow our team to keep up with the latest malware threats. We update the Clean Routers regularly to guard against the newest online hazards and keep our ear to the ground for signs of a cyber attack.

 

TLDR? If you have a Clean Router, we have your back! If you don’t, now is the perfect time to order. Let’s make this Halloween all treats, no tricks!

 

Ready to protect your home, business, library, or church with Clean Router?

 

Order your Clean Router today!

4 easy (and free!) things you can do to keep your kids safer online

Keeping your kids safe online doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. Here are four easy and FREE things you can do to protect your family.

 

1. Kick all electronic devices out of bedrooms

If your kids are using the computer behind closed doors, it’s hard to where they go and what they do online. The illusion of privacy also can entice your kids into believing online misbehavior won’t have consequences. For both these reasons, the vast majority of family internet safety experts advise parents to keep all computers and mobile devices in common areas of the house.  If your kids know they could be interrupted at any time, they’ll think twice before they go looking for trouble online.

 

2. Check the browser history often

While this isn’t a silver bullet (kids can easily alter the browser history or use an incognito browser), it’s an important first step to keeping your kids safe online. Glancing through the websites visited on each computer, tablet, or smartphone will give you a basic idea of your kids’ browsing patterns. Keep an eye out for gaps in the history (like if you know your kid was on the computer  from 3pm to 5pm, but nothing is listed between 4:15pm and 4:30pm), late night or early morning browsing, or anything that seems odd or out of character for your kids. Furthermore, let your kids know you periodically check the browsing history. This will give you opportunities to talk to them about internet safety and give them added incentive to follow your family’s media rules.

 

3. Give the internet an early bedtime

Even if all electronic devices stay in the living room or kitchen, even the most frequented areas of your house become deserted at night. Use the parental controls on your kids’ devices to shut the internet down at a certain time, or simply turn off the router when you go to bed.

Bonus– your kids will sleep better, since the blue light from their devices won’t suppress the melatonin in their brains.

 

4. Password-protect all your devices

All computers and mobile devices come with the option to sign in with a password, and this barrier to entry can prevent everything from your baby changing your phone’s language to Arabic, your toddler finding disturbing videos on YouTube, to your tween surfing the web before she’s finished her chores. Furthermore, if the kids are home alone, then no one can be online!

Possible exception: If you’re one of the many families who do not have a landline phone, you may want to consider keeping one phone unlocked so your kids can call for help in case of an emergency.

 

If you liked these tips, check out our family internet safety live event here!

Ready to take your family internet safety plan to ultimate protection?

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Three reasons to turn off your smartphone today

Did you know the average person spends almost 3 hours a day on their smartphone? That’s about 20 hours a week– the equivalent of a part time job! Here are three reasons to take a well-deserved vacation from your smartphone.

 

1.Your brain needs quiet

A growing body of research shows that downtime is essential for optimal brain function. Scientists believe a certain kind of brain activity, sharp-wave ripples, help us store and consolidate memories. These ripples can only occur when our brain is resting but awake. Unfortunately, we’re prone to pull out our phones at just that kind of time– when we wake up in the morning, on public transportation, waiting in line, before we go to sleep at night. If you’ve been feeling forgetful lately, keep your phone in your pocket next time you have a quiet moment and just be still.

 

 

2. A better night’s sleep

The blue light emitted by tablets, televisions, computers, and yes, smartphones, hinders our brain’s production of melatonin, the chemical that helps us fall asleep. Even if you fall asleep without difficulty, you may still want to read a book before bed. This study found that people who were on their phones at bedtime needed more time to fall asleep, spent a lower percentage of their time in bed actually asleep, and slept worse overall.

 

 

3. Improved relationships

Relationships obviously improve when people are calmer, better rested, and have better memories, but research shows relationships are helped in other ways as well when the phones are turned off. There’s a whole new line of research on “technoference” and its impact on relationships. Parents say their co-parenting improves when their phones are put away– they notice each other’s signals and work together more seamlessly.  Researchers have noticed that toddlers disintegrate when mom and dad check their phones and perk back up when devices are turned off. Women report more feelings of depression, lower life satisfaction, and lower relationship satisfaction when technology is allowed to interrupt couple time. Overall, pretty much every relationship in your family and social circle gets a boost when your phone takes a back seat.

 

Clean Router knows every smartphone (and family) needs some downtime.

Order your Clean Router now!

Police, Safety Experts Warn Against New SnapMaps

A new SnapChat feature could allow predators to see where your teen lives, where he goes to school, or her favorite hang outs. SnapMaps uses the GPS signal on smart phones to pinpoint users’ locations and identifies their location on a map. This map is visible to all the user’s friends and followers. Furthermore, users’ locations are updated each time the app is opened– not just when they share stories or send Snaps.

 

You might not mind a close friend knowing your teen’s location. Unfortunately, though, due to the prestige of having high numbers of social media followers, more and more teens are adding people they’ve never met in person. These virtual “friends” may not be who they say they are and could use SnapMaps to track your teen. The SnapMap locator is highly accurate, and can even identify which building the user is in.

 

The police in Muskegon Heights, Michagon, spoke to the local news about the new SnapChat feature. “We want young people, adults as well as underage people to be careful telling people where you are, especially when you’re going to be alone or in an isolated place.” You can read the whole news story here.

 

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection recommends parents remind teens of the dangers of sharing one’s location online as well as allowing people they don’t know off-line access to their social media profiles. Their comments, featured in Canadian news site thestar.com are available here.

 

As social media grows, online street smarts are more important than ever! When evaluating social media platforms, parents should carefully research the features of each app. What seems like an innocent feature can have horrifying implications!

 

Ready to protect your home with Clean Router?

 Order your Clean Router today!

What We Can Learn About Kids and Screens from Tech Moguls

In a recent interview with online magazine Mirror, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, outlined his family’s screen time rules. No phones for the kids until age fourteen, no screens at the dinner table, and an evening curfew for the internet.

 

Gates’ three daughters are 20, 17, and 14 years old now, so presumably the rules are mostly applicable to the two younger girls, but his strict stance reflects favorably compared to today’s norm. According to a 2016 report, the average age for receiving one’s first phone is now ten years old.

 

Let that sink in for a minute– the AVERAGE age at which kids are receiving their first phone is TEN. That means a significant number of kids are younger than ten years old and own a phone.

 

With 21st century childhood becoming increasingly technologically saturated, Bill Gates’ parenting rules stand out. He’s not unique among tech moguls, though. Steve Jobs, Chris Anderson (chief executive of 3D Robotics), and Evan Williams (founder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium) have all been reported to have strict screen time rules for their kids. So, what do they know that the average American parent doesn’t? Aside from advanced computer science, that is.

 

Chris Anderson told The New York Times, “We have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”

 

As our society increasingly adds screen time to the “can’t miss” list for childhood, maybe we should listen to these tech experts and follow their parenting lead.

Clean Router for Every Device in Your Home

Feature Friday: Why you should use Clean Router instead of Circle

“I have heard about this Circle thing.  How is Clean Router better?”

 

If you have been researching online filtering options, you may have heard or read a bit about Circle, another online parental controls system. However, after trying Circle ourselves, we believe Clean Router can offer a superior filtering experience to Circle. In spite of a few similarities, Clean Router significantly differs from Circle in ways that will impact your family’s online peace of mind.

 

1) Circle’s complicated installation- Setting up Clean Router is as easy as plugging in a router, and our friendly support team walks every new customer through it. Installing Circle, though, was a multi-step process involving app downloads and connecting through multiple networks. For busy parents or grandparents, especially those not confident in their tech skills, Clean Router is faster and easier.

 

2) Circle’s fundamental design is flawed – Unlike Clean Router, Circle is not a router. Users plug into Circle into the network, and it uses something called ARP-spoofing or ARP-poisoning.  Simply put, it tricks everything in the network to talk to Circle instead of your wireless router.

Circle_network

So what? The additional device adds an extra “hop” for all of your network traffic.   Circle causes quite a bit of extra latency to all of your web traffic, slowing down the whole network.  Circle also uses an old wireless protocol (802.11n), which also hurts your internet speed.

Speed aside, this ARP-poisoning also causes other problems.  Many devices are incompatible, and we have even heard users report that Circle broke their entire network!

 

3) No filter – Unlike Clean Router, which checks every website in real time, Circle does not filter online content.  Users can block certain categories of apps and create lists of approved and blocked websites, but we all know that the internet changes daily.  Clean Router’s IntelliFilter checks every packet that is coming thru from the DNS layer all the way down to the very content itself. We also were disappointed in Circle’s “blocked” page. No reason is given for blocking a website, and the page itself scrolls through Disney content and links to Instagram and Twitter. Parents can imagine how distracting this would be for a kid trying to concentrate on homework, and some of the content presented on the blocked page, while not pornographic, was not quite kid-friendly.

 

4) No dynamic filtering – While Circle asks you to label a website as good or bad, Clean Router understands the internet just does not work that way. What do you do with a site like FoxNews or MSN? Not all the content may measure up to your family’s media standards, blocking an entire news platform would inhibit your online experience.   This is exactly why dynamic filtering is so important. To ensure your family’s online safety, Clean Router checks every word and every picture of every website accessed on your internet network in real time. 

 

5) No support – Need help configuring your filtering or figuring out what URL needs to be white-listed to get a particular site to work?  Have a question about this feature or that feature?  Good luck getting in touch with Circle! The website doesn’t list a support phone number, a email address, a chat option, or any other contact method.  Clean Router provides award-winning US-based support.  Skeptical? Give our guys a call at 520-445-4673, shoot us an email at Support@CleanRouter.com, or go to our website and chat with us live. We won’t be shy about besting Circle in this area!

 

6) iOS- and Android-only controls – The only mechanism that Circle provides for controlling your kids’ devices or managing your network is through an iOS or Android app.  Need to access from a computer?  No luck. On the other hand, Clean Router allows you to access your account from any computer or mobile device!

 

7) No emailed reports – Clean Router delivers a PDF report to your email nightly informing you of each device’s internet activity.  And, we just rolled out our full Smart Reporting v2 that allows you even more control over these reports! This is not a feature offered by Circle.

 

8) Limited scheduling options- Circle only offers three scheduling options for devices: “BedTime” (a time for the internet to turn off for the evening), “Time Limits” (a limit on how much time each device can spend online per day), and “Pause” (turn the internet off temporarily). Clean Router’s scheduling feature allows users to set a schedule for each device in their home for any time of day and any day of the week! For example, if dinner time is always from 6pm to 7pm, you can automatically set the internet to turn off at 6pm every day. If you would like to offer more screen time on Saturdays than Tuesdays, Clean Router (but not Circle) lets you set a different schedule for each day of the week!

 

8) Keywords – Tired of your kid going to every Minecraft site?  Enter “minecraft” into the keywords list, and Clean Router will block any site containing those words.  For Circle users, respite from Minecraft requires hunting for hundreds of different domains and websites.

 

9) No YouTube filtering– With Circle, you’ll have to allow YouTube in all its sleazy glory or block it completely. CleanYouTube, our YouTube filtering service, offers your family the best of YouTube!

 

10) The bypass option– If you hit a page and need to bypass Circle, you’ll need to..

*Sign into the controls on Circle on your phone (since it doesn’t have any web controls)

*Add the website to an approved list

*Wait approximately 60 to 120 minutes (yes, 1 to 2 hours) for the page’s cache to clear

*Go back to your site.  

And then, you have to remember to go and turn it back off!  

Our bypass option made to be used– simple, fast, and secure.

For example, Victoria’s Secret is a popular resource for women’s clothing and cosmetics, but you may not want your twelve year old lingering over the sexy photos. When my wife needs to go to there, this is what she sees:

blockedpage_blacklist

My wife can enter the password, choose 15, 30, or 60 minutes, and hit the Temporary Bypass page.  Clean Router will unblock the site for the amount of time designated. She can do her shopping and leave without having to worry about remembering to re-block the website.  In the time Circle users need to unblock a site, my wife can finish shopping, give herself a pedicure, AND go for a run!

11) Circle is “by Disney” – Circle has a content partnership with Disney.  For users, this means Disney ads a-plenty and product-pushing galore. With such a direct funnel, be prepared for your kids to enter a whole new world of advertisements for the latest Disney gadgets and gizmos.  After you have bought 15 copies of Frozen, and your kids have bought 20 episodes of “Hannah Montana” you might feel a little less hakuna matata. When you’re ready, Clean Router can help you let it go.

 

The Clean Router is truly the ultimate parental control, and we continue to work hard to make sure that your kids are safe online.  We have taken industrial-level filtering, and scaled it down to something easy for parents to use.  If you need any help, our award-winning support team is here to help you achieve online peace of mind. Come partner with us to block all online pornography from your home and take back control of the internet today!

 

 

Order your Clean Router now!

Feature Friday: The Internet, YOUR Way

Internet access can seem binary– either you have the internet in your home, or you don’t. Having the internet in your home can expose your family to online pornography, real and fictional violent content, drug content, suggestive ads, raunchy articles, scams, and other dark aspects of our world. On the other hand, not providing your home with internet access in 2017 deprives them of wholesome and free entertainment, educational opportunities, awareness of current events, social connections, and even paying the bills and banking. What’s a twenty-first century family to do?

 

Clean Router offers families to engage with the internet wholesomely and productively. Your family’s rules become Clean Router’s rules with dozens of customizable features and filtering options. Best of all, you can adjust and readjust the Clean Router filters at any time, from anywhere! Just log into remote.cleanrouter.com from any computer or download our  Remote Control app for easy on-the-go access!

 

Your family deserves more options than sleaze or 1950s technology. With Clean Router, you can have the internet YOUR way!

 

Ready to protect your family online with Clean Router?

 Order your Clean Router today!

The Truth About the Minecraft Sex Mod

The alarming headlines are all over social media.

 

“Everything changed the day I learned Minecraft has a sex mod”

“Things you need to know: Minecraft has a ‘sex mod.’ Here’s your barf bag.”

“Does Minecraft have ‘sex mods’?

“Minecraft mods: Sex mod download available; moms react”

 

Confused? Scared? Ready to hide your kids’ electronic devices? Here’s the full story.

 

Accomplished Minecraft players can write little bits of unofficial game code, called “mods” to add new aspects to their game. They share these mods online in forums and gamer websites, and anyone can download them. Some of these mods are pornographic. For every online or video game, millions of YouTube videos exist of people playing that game. Minecraft is no exception. For the same reasons that porn is so pervasive to begin with, many of the Minecraft videos feature adult and downright pornographic content or “mods.”

 

The main lesson of this scare is there is no corner of the internet where kids should be spending time without parental supervision. The mom in one post declared herself a “digital explorer”: where her kids go, she goes. Parents should be familiar with every app, every game, and every website their kids use consistently. For occasional or one-time internet destinations, use a parental controls tool like Clean Router to monitor your family’s browsing history.

 

App ratings are no guarantee, either. In and of itself, Minecraft is pretty innocent. But not all the user forums, gamer websites, and fan-created add-ons are appropriate for kids ten years and older. Parents have to step up and parent their kids online as well as off-line.

 

To read more about the Minecraft sex mods, click here to read the Snopes explaining the facts and busting the myths.

 

How do you keep your kids safe online? Comment below!

 

Ready to protect your home with Clean Router? Click here to get started!

 

 

 

 

Feature Friday: Torpedoing Torrents

Do you know what a torrent is?

 

A torrent is a filesharing method normally used for less-than-savory purposes. Think downloading pirated movies or accessing free pornographic content. Many internet filters don’t block them.

 

Clean Router does.

 

If you have Clean Router protecting your home, it doesn’t matter if you know what a torrent is. We do, and we have your back. Our developers are constantly looking into the latest threats to your online peace of mind and blocking them from your home. Torrents? Torpedoed. New porn sites? Blacklisted. New way to circumvent a filter? We’re on it!

 

With Clean Router, you can trust that you have cutting edge filtering for your home– even if it has been years since you purchased your Clean Router. Our regular updates fine-tune the filters and keep your internet speed running faster than ever before.

 

Let Clean Router torpedo the torrents, block pornography from your home, and provide you with online peace of mind. To get started, click here!

Video Chatting is the New Sexting

A recent study on children’s health listed sexting as #6 on the list of biggest health concerns for children in the country. Parents have taken note and jumped to educate their tweens and teens about the dangers and foolishness of sending sexually charged pictures or posting them online.

 

However, many parents don’t realize that sexting is not just pictures anymore. As video chatting has become more accessible, more teens and even tweens are using this medium for age-inappropriate communication with horrific consequences. The Amanda Todd sextortion case began in a video chat room and ended with her suicide at age 15.

 

To naive kids, video chatting seems less risky because the call ends. However, screen shot capabilities and hidden recording devices make it easy to preserve the content of any video call indefinitely.

 

While sexy video calls between teens who know each other is bad enough, a shocking number of video chat platforms offer to matchmake calls with strangers. No vetting or identification is required to join these groups; most only require a first name and an email address. Platforms like these provide anyone with an internet connection access to your child.

 

Facebook Live has only worsened the problem exponentially. Launched quietly, Facebook Live is a video chat function available to Facebook users of any age. Teens have the option to make calls to any other user (even if that user isn’t on their friends list) or live stream for as many or few viewers as they wish. Facebook even provides teens with the option to restrict their live stream viewers by gender, age, location, and language. A sexy live stream that excludes parents, grandparents, and school teachers is all but encouraged through these options.

 

What can parents do? Set a rule for your family that video chatting must take place in a public space of your home, or at least with the door open. Then, add any and all video chatting platforms to your Clean Router’s Black List. Here are a few of the most popular ones with their URLs:

 

*Facebook Live (live.facebook.com)

*SnapChat (snapchat.com)

*Google Hangouts (hangouts.google.com)

*Tango (tango.me)

*ooVoo (oovoo.com)

*Face Flow (faceflow.com)

*Video.link2.me

*Fring (fring.com)

*Chatous– specifically marketed as a “make new friends” platform! (chatous.com)

*Camfrog– specifically marketed as a “make new friends” platform! (camfrog.com)

 

You can also use the iOS parental controls function to lock any app on an iPad or iPhone, including FaceTime, SnapChat, and the others listed above. To do this:

 

  1. Open Settings
  2. Click on Restrictions (it’s under the General section)
  3. Select Enable Restrictions
  4. Set a password
  5. Toggle off any apps you don’t want your kids to use without your permission. You may also want to toggle off the Installing Apps option to prevent your kids from downloading any of the apps listed above.

 

Stay safe online this summer! To learn more about protecting your family on the internet, click here!