Tech Tips: The Big Kid SecureDrive Creates a Secure and Controlled Environment for Children on Your PC

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
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We have a fairly progressive family when it comes to technology and computing. In fact, all of the kids have access to their own computers. So far, pre-saved links and configured desktops have been all the security and customization we have needed. But now that the kids are older we need to take a more aggressive and involved approach to make sure they are safe when surfing and playing on their PC’s.

There are many approaches to creating a controlled and secure environment for young people, from very mild to an outright rigid lock down of the system. My personal belief is simple parental involvement and some common sense monitoring of their activity is enough. I can (and do) remote into my oldest sons computer randomly to monitor his activity in real time. I also have some filters configured on our home server to add some additional controls. But for full disclosure, I am also a network administrator and IT professional.

So what do non-computer experts do to keep their kids safe on the PC? I have some good news for you: You try a product like the Big Kid SecureDrive. The SecureDrive is a device that creates an entire controlled environment for your child to compute in. From the moment your child turns on the PC until the moment they power down every activity is controlled. Once configured, the SecureDrive does not require parental attention each time your child wants to use the PC. So long as the SecureDrive is plugged into your PC (via USB) you are assured your child will have a safe experience.


How does the SecureDrive work? The SecureDrive is a common USB flash drive that you leave plugged into the PC. When your child turns on the PC, your PC boots into the USB drive rather than your regular operating system. The SecureDrive is 100% independant from the rest of your PC and everything starts normally when the drive is not plugged it. Sharing a PC with a child could not be easier with no laborious reconfiguring each time a young user wants to use the PC. Simply plug in the SecureDrive prior to turning the machine on and you're finished, it's that easy.

The SecureDrive is based on an Ubuntu Linux operating system. If fact, that is all it really is: A customized Ubuntu OS with special software and controls built in. Users of Linux operating systems will instantly recognize the OS and have familiarity with navigation.

SecureDrive comes with 2 internet browsers installed, both pointed at a content filtering proxy. I tested the filters and all the most common “bad” words/searches were blocked. I would say the proxy is adequate for defeating any terminology that a young person may try, but as an adult I was able to get past the proxy using some alternate terminology. But fortunately for most, I'm probably a bit more deviant than average and certainly a great deal more deviant than most children. I would grade the filter a high “B” on an A to F scale.

You can add custom exceptions to the proxy for special sites and games if you wish. In fact, you can customize a great deal to tailor the environment to your specific needs. I found the default configuration is perfect for younger users and would choose to customize for older users.


SecureDrive is full of custom software, from productivity and science to games and even programming. All available with a simple double click. For many users, I can see a full computing experience without even needing to go online, which is the ultimate in security for a young user. For older users the Ubuntu OS offers everything an adult OS offers if they choose not to use the custom content. In fact, most IT pro’s would say learning a Linux OS opens up many doors for any aspiring IT kids.


What I like most about the SecureDrive is that I can plug it in and out on a whim without any labor at all. It could not be more simple to use. You can even plug it into any PC, throw it in your pocket, and use it anywhere! Without any extra configuration at all I am confident the default experience is safe, with extra configuration even safer. Best of all is the Big Kid SecureDrive is priced at only $16.95 (regularly $39.95)......without any membership or recurring cost. For under $20 the Big Kid SecureDrive is a no brainer.  To learn more, visit www.thinkbigcomputing.com.


Thank you to Think Big Computing for providing a complimentary product sample for us to base this review upon.


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Published by Karen Coutu
4 comments
  1. This would be great when my son is a little older and starts to use the computer by himself. Right now he sits on my lap and uses it.

    Posted on January 11, 2013 at 9:11 AM

     
  2. Andrew L. Said,

    What an interesting device. I had thought creating a secure network for the kiddos would be much more expensive then this. We are heading to that age where they will need their own computers for school work so I'm saving this site for future reference. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted on January 14, 2013 at 10:50 PM

     
  3. Seth Lawson Said,

    I can make the exact same thing with some Python code and a 4GB flash drive I picked up for $5. As for the web filter, I would rank it at C- at most; using wording a child may use and clicking around, I was able to run across some pretty bad stuff (including but not limited to gory Reddit posts, gay furry porn, and some very heavily racist material on YouTube).

    In short: the thing's a ripoff, anyone with moderate technical knowledge can make one for themselves. Besides, teaching your kids basic Internet safety and common sense would negate the need for a content blocker entirely.

    Posted on September 12, 2013 at 8:42 PM

     
  4. Todd Said,

    Seth, with all due respect the tone of your opinion on this product is way out of line.

    First, because you may or may not have the ability to program your own is irrelevant in regards to this products performance or usefulness.

    Second, have you used this product? Or is your opinion purely based on the fact that you feel you can make your own? You do understand that the overwhelmingly vast majority of the parents that would be interested in a product like this will not be able to program in Python or any language for that matter.

    Third, do you have children old enough to use a computer and also need some protection from inappropriate content? Just about all parents I know use common sense and reasoning while teaching and preparing their kids for the world. But any parent also knows that this alone is not always enough. Extra controls via any method possible is always welcome to a parent. You are a parent right?

    Four, the tone of your post here is unusually harsh and insulting. You are essentially insulting any parent that feels a product like this is a good idea.

    Please exercise your right to NOT post here unless your message is constructive.

    Posted on September 12, 2013 at 11:04 PM

     

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