Internet Software for Elderly

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Old 06-27-18, 06:43 AM
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Internet Software for Elderly

Does anyone have experience with software for elderly people on the Internet?

My parents are getting older and still think they know everything and they love to surf on the Internet. Unfortunately they don't have a clue about Internet safety/security and often forget how to navigate using Chrome or Internet Explorer. They will click on anything... and if the computer tells them they got a virus and need to call this number to fix it they readily pick up the phone and call. Standard anti-virus software (Symantec, Norton, Avast...) have been of little help as they will simply click through any warnings.
 
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Old 06-27-18, 06:55 AM
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Linux is much less likely to catch a virus or malware and can be as easy or easier to use than MS Windows. Same browsers but the malware just won't work.
 

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Old 06-27-18, 07:07 AM
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I install Ad Block Plus on all my browsers (and my parents' as well). It doesn't solve all those problems, but many, since many of those phishing ads are blocked.

I haven't found a real good solution though. I would ensure that their user accounts are standard user accounts and not admin, so they can't inadvertently install software, etc.

Other than that, a monthly scan with MalwareBytes, and a cleanup of extensions that always seem to mysteriously get installed.
 
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Old 06-27-18, 10:33 AM
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There's a new browser in town that may help a little: Tor
 
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Old 06-27-18, 01:58 PM
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Most browsers have a 'lock down" mode and pop-up blockers.

I'd go with "Avast Safe Zone" as a browser, it's a "locked down " out of the box.

Other idea, Firefox in hardened mode, with https and avast safebrowse plugins.
Firefox does have an sync and "account" setup, which allows you to sync across multiple computers,
and therefore ALSO allows you to set security and maintain THEIR computer by logging in from your computer.

And while you're working on it, consider creating a special password protected "administrator" account, and downgrade their account to standard user (local login).

If you use a microsoft login (i.e. email address as username) you could also set them up as a restricted-family (i.e. child) account.
 

Last edited by Hal_S; 06-27-18 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 06-27-18, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Linux is much less likely to catch a virus or malware and can be as easy or easier to use than MS Windows. Same browsers but the malware just won't work.
+1

The vast majority of malwares are written for Windows and have absolutely no effect on Linux. No matter how many safeguards you put on Windows, they can always be thwarted by a human who does something ill-advised. Nothing stops them making the same mistakes on Linux, it's just that they can't do any permanent harm. I have run into ransomware on Linux that took complete control of my browser and threatened not to relinquish it unless I paid their ransom, but all I had to do was close the browser and restart it and the ransomware was gone. With Linux, worst case, you might have to reboot the system. A Windows browser would not have got off so easy.

However, the linchpin of that plan is having in-house support. It's a less effective solution if you (or whomever your folks rely on for home tech support) aren't Linux-literate.

If you're stuck with Windows, you could run the uBlock Origin add-on on either Firefox or Chrome browser without degrading their surfing experience. uBO ostensibly is a pop-up blocker but it also can do extensive content filtering, if you configure it to do so (and that part isn't at all 'techie'):


(click to embiggen)


This is a screenshot of the "Filters List" tab in my uBO settings. By checking an individual radiobutton, I'm subscribing to a filter list that is maintained and kept updated by some individual or group. You will note that I am subscribed to three of the four filter lists under the heading of "Malware domains." If I happen to click on a link that was meant to take me to one of the domains that one of the developers has deemed unsafe, uBO interrupts the connection and displays a page telling me it has blocked my access to the target page.

uBO also allows you to create your own filters list (under the "My filters" tab) so you could block your parents accessing websites that you don't think would be in their best interests, like Needless Markup or Bingo-a-Go-Go (but that's a little more 'techie').

uBO also has a low administrative overhead, meaning all these rules don't bog down the browser.

Another add-on you could run is NoScript, which blocks all scripting software by default (scripting is the tool used most often for delivering malwares). However, most websites use scripting to enhance your browsing experience so NoScript is configurable so you can allow scripting on pages you believe to be "safe."
 
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Old 06-27-18, 04:45 PM
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The main issue is that my parents "think" they know what they are doing but will click on anything. My first order of business is for the computer I have set aside for them to use at the office when they come to visit. The bigger problem is what they do elsewhere.
 
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Old 06-27-18, 05:06 PM
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first order of business is for the computer I have set aside for them to use at the office when they come to visit.
You could use a Live DVD or USB stick to run linux on your office computer. Your Windows OS won't be running so no chance of contamination. Using the browser they usually use they wouldn't notice any difference. If the live DVD or USB drive is run with persistence they could even save things for their next use.
 
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Old 06-28-18, 02:07 AM
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There's a cool little program called 'sandboxie' that runs the browser in a sandbox -- nothing in the sandbox can affect the rest of the computer. You can just empty the sandbox from time to time.
 
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Old 06-28-18, 05:28 AM
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Interesting point about sandboxing, aka virtual machine (VM).

Chrome and MS Edge browsers have incorporated a sandbox component (multi processor)
newer Firefox quantum version added multi-processor support.
Basically, "Browser-program & security" runs on one processor and "Browser-window" runs on other processors. "Browser-program & security" is in control, not "Browswer-window"
 

Last edited by Hal_S; 06-28-18 at 05:58 AM.
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Old 06-28-18, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by steve_gro View Post
There's a cool little program called 'sandboxie' that runs the browser in a sandbox -- nothing in the sandbox can affect the rest of the computer. You can just empty the sandbox from time to time.
After a quick bit of testing, it looks like you CAN run Tor Browser IN Sandboxie, which creates a disposable, anonymous browing session, that's based on Firefox.

Tor is a IP randomizer, your internet address shows as some random country. I think you can lock it down to only use USA addresses (so that you get Yahoo in English, rather than German, Romanian etc).

Sandboxie is a "virtual machine lite" optimized to keep web browsers from installing programs on your computer.

That combination might be rather useful. A bit more checking, and TOR retains Firefox's "sync accounts" feature, which means that you can save things like passwords and bookmarks across computers.
 
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Old 06-28-18, 02:45 PM
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Have you/they considered an iPad? In my experience works great for "surfing" with little possibility of malware/virus. Obviously more expensive than software for an existing PC. Just throwing it out there :-) The performance, portability, battery life, etc are hard to beat for consuming content.

BTW, I have Android phone, Windows PC's, linux Raspberry Pi, etc so I'm not apple "fanboy" saying its best for everyone or application.
 
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