Thursday, 21 May 2015

Bypassing Parental Controls With BT

Every so often I feel the need to share some 'internet control' experiences, this is my third 'off topic' blog - the first of which concerned turning on parental controls, the second about the prevalence of porn on Twitter

Recently I've seen plenty of evidence that inappropriate content is showing up on childrens' computers despite their parents locking down devices and restricting access.

Just to be clear, there are ALWAYS ways to circumvent these controls. But many cannot work out how - and I'm certainly not going to share methods for doing it. That doesn't mean you should ignore the problem though.

If you're a BT broadband customer (one third of UK households are), you are almost certainly providing simplified access to the pornosphere for your children and their friends.

Some background first - if you're of a mind to block inappropriate material, then you have probably enabled parental controls on mobile devices and computers in the house.

You may even have decided to completely stop the flow into your house, and had your provider block it at source. There's a simple way to do this with BT, follow this link, sign in with your credentials, then scroll down to the 'extras' section and click 'Manage' in the BT Parental Control box.

Congratulations, you've successfully blocked inappropriate content coming into the house, (although how porn and alcohol end up in the same filter category is beyond me).


Actually it's very easy to bypass this, not for you, but for your children or for guests in your house.

Part of the BT offering is to allow your home router to be used as a personal hotspot for anyone. Check out your wi-fi network now, and you'll see 'BTWifi-with-FON' listed.

This means that if I am in range of any BT router I can use it as a wi-fi hotspot (by signing in with my BT account credentials).

Many parents give those credentials to their children so they can access wi-fi and not use mobile data plans, so usernames and passwords get passed around at school, enabling your child to use someone else's details to see whatever they want through your router.

The good news is that you can opt out of this, but it's not that easy, and after half an hour of navigating through BT's website to a human I finally got this link, which allows you to opt out of providing a hotspot: 

Bizarrely if you don't have a email address you need to find an actual person to do this for you - this link may help. (Click problem with service, then broadband and eventually this magic chat button will appear). 

If all this seems like a huge amount of hassle, then that's because it is. I'm not sure that you should have to 'opt-in' to see adult content, that's a much larger debate, but if you do want to turn off adult content, then BT could make it a great deal simpler (and not leave the open hotspot wide open for abuse). 

Not enabled parental controls yet? Don't think you should? Read this and it may change your mind.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Accepting Poor Behaviour

I've resisted the temptation of posting any kind of 'workplace' blog involving the Top Gear crew or the BBC in general. Not only does it seem to be marginally exploitative, but having seen a progression of death threats aimed at people who dare criticise I wasn't sure that I needed that kind of attention.

But then I caught a few minutes of the Wright Stuff on Channel Five recently, where Richard Madeley and Anne Diamond were discussing the Top Gear 'fracas' and I realised that I was hearing the same old 'abuse' story - but from TV personalities rather than corporate employees.

This shouldn't surprise me - often we forget that the folks staring out at us from the gogglebox are 'real' people with real jobs, mouths to feed and mortgages to pay.

What aggravated me was that both Richard Madeley and Anne Diamond both spoke of this kind of behaviour happening to them in the past, with a degree of implied acceptance that this was 'normal' behaviour in their industry. 

I love Top Gear - I find Jeremy, James and Richard great entertainment. There is no doubt that they provide a huge amount of revenue for their company, have immense talent and will be sadly missed by the vast majority of the viewing public (at least until they appear elsewhere). 


When you verbally and physically assault someone it is wrong. No matter who that person is, but particularly when that person is 'subservient' to you in the organisation, perceives that their job depends on you, or that you have power to make them suffer. There are no excuses - and in case I'm in line for some hate mail here, Mr Clarkson would appear to agree.

Here are just three corporate examples from my experience, and I'd like you to imagine how you'd feel if this happened to you....

  • The executive, who when aggravated, stressed, or simply in need of some entertainment thought it was OK to kick chairs at people in their office - or even outside their office door in the corridor. Sometimes I think the Lego policeman in the movie worked for him at some time.
  • The senior leader who denied the whole office the right to go home on Christmas Eve if one person dared to ask what time they could leave - holding everyone in a frenzy of discomfort for the whole day (and for several weeks beforehand).
  • The divisional head who enjoyed swearing loudly and publicly at staff so much, that even after multiple complaints, and subsequent warnings he continued until he had to be escorted off the premises - permanently.

Behaviour that you accept spreads through your organisation - this works equally for positive and negative behaviours, but the negative ones spread much faster. Simply shrugging it off by saying "well that happened to me too" gives tacit approval to others to mimic poor behaviours, and actually promotes their belief that it's necessary to fit in.

If you think any one of the examples above is even remotely acceptable behaviour, then I suggest you go and find a job where you can work alone, far from others, and if possible far from society in general.