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Shanghai Daily Test Diary

SHANGHAI Daily downloaded the Green Dam software for a simple test to verify some widely spread doubts about the software.

How does it work to protect children from harmful materials?

In a word, it gives parents the master control of the computer's Internet connection with a password, pre-set by parents. Without the password, children can neither shut down nor uninstall the software.

Through the software menu, parents can build a blacklist of Websites (in addition to those on the software's database), set up the time periods during when Internet connection is allowed on the computer, and monitor what Websites kids have browsed by making the software take a screen shot every few minutes.

So the children might suddenly find the Web browser closing automatically as they log onto some game sites, if their parents have blacklisted them. They might also find the Internet suddenly disconnected after an hour if their parents have set it up for that time. The parents can also know every single site the kids have browsed online through the log file and screen shots saved by the software.

Moreover, once the software detects harmful materials on a Website, the site will be automatically added to the blacklist, meaning the browsers shuts down automatically every time users try to get to that site again. The only way is to know the password and to delete the site from the blacklist.

However, it only works on Microsoft Windows. Apple and Linux users can bypass the software. And on Windows system, it only works for Internet browsers adopting technologies of Internet Explorer, which allows users of other browsers including Firefox, Safari and Opera bypass the blocking.

Moreover, it is quite easy to change the password back to what the factory set - 112233 - by typing a series of codes into a system file. The method, found by Netizens, has been widely circulated online and many kids must have already seen it.

Can it be uninstalled?

Yes, but not completely.

The software's self-contained control panel includes an unnoticeably uninstall button that users can uninstall the software. However, it doesn't show up in the software list of the operation system, where user can normally install and uninstall any software.

One can only remove the software through its self-contained installation button.

Most major anti-virus programs, such as Kaspersky and Norton, alerts it as "a program with bad intentions" during installation of Green Dam, possibly because it automatically installs into the system folder, system32. It is a folder containing important system files that users are advised not to modify at any time.

During the installation process, the software creates and modifies more than 100 files in this folder and many are still left even after removing the software.

Does it open automatically?

Yes, once it's installed, Green Dam opens automatically as the computer starts up. Similar to an anti-virus program, it is not possible to cease the automatic opening. Even if you force stop the process in the task manager, it revives.

Does it slow down the computer?

Yes. When we first open Green Dam, it takes up 40 percent of CPU to run the software and it also slows down the Internet connection. The effect will be more obvious on cheaper computers.

Does it collect your information?

According to our test, the software collects log file of what Websites users have browsed and also saves screen shots every few minutes (depending on the pre-setting by users).

It is difficult to verify whether the information will be sent back to the server unless someone breaks the code. IT experts say it could, technically speaking, yet with huge costs.

Is there security loophole?

An IT consulting firm from Beijing has found a critical loophole in Green Dam, which makes the installed computers vulnerable to viruses as users visit any Websites. It's like an open door to hackers.

After two hours of testing, the software strangely collapsed, basically allowing us to go on any Websites and open any pictures.


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