Friday, January 27, 2012

Controlling what kids access - VPN to the Home - the next big thing in Mobile security

I've got kids, currently they are under the age where they get Smartphones and unfettered internet access but such a day is coming.  Now at home I can set it up so on the WiFi there is a proxy and all content has to be routed via that proxy or it doesn't go out and I can lock down the proxy so they can't go where I don't want.

However on a Smartphone they get good internet access without me being in control.


Then I got my new internet connection from BT (VDSL, 40 down, 10 up) and so I'm putting a VPN in so when I'm abroad I can still do back-ups etc without having to lug disks around.  Then I realised that I could set it up so my mobile phone used the VPN as well, which means iTunes backup and sync can be done as well.... double result.

This then made me think of how if you combine the VPN with a proxy that you can then have a controlled connection at all times.  All you need is the ability to add restrictions to the device which force 'always use VPN', something that isn't supported today, and prevent the VPN connection identifier from being changed.  This has two key usage scenarios:

  1. For Enterprises it means mobile device internet access can be controlled
  2. For families it means being able to control what your kids access... until they are around a friends or buy their own device
Its the latter that interests me at home, obviously, as I do think as a parent I have a responsibility to control what my kids access and to ensure that I can track things and keep them safe.  This isn't about being over protective, I wouldn't let them wander the streets on their own or take a train to London on their own, and the internet can be just, if not more, dangerous than those things.

With the rise of high bandwidth upstream connections this sort of thing becomes completely feasible, all it needs now is the mobile phone manufacturers to add the capabilities into the OS in the same way as they add things like Internet blocks or other application blocks today.

High-speed uplink + VPN + Mobile = Personal control of your own internet connection... with the added benefit of NEVER being unencrypted on a public WiFi connection. 

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