To protect your credit card data and other personal information, websites often use secure connections, better known as HTTPS. Unfortunately, in some cases HTTPS also hides information, like a visit to an inappropriate Facebook page.
Covenant Eyes wants to report everything your family sees and does online, but we do not read your e-mails or see your banking information—nor do we want to. That’s why we only partially monitor HTTPS. We know you want better monitoring, so we’re working on updates that give you more information while still protecting your sensitive data.
How Covenant Eyes Currently Reports HTTPS
Covenant Eyes currently monitors and reports URLs that were accessed, as well as search terms used on most major search engines. On non-HTTPS sites, we can report on both the URL and the content of the page. When a person is signed in on a secure site we can report the page’s URL, but we do not read the content of that page. That means that we see when a person visited Facebook, but we can’t tell what’s on a person’s news feed.
A full list of all the URLs accessed, divided into 15 minute segments, is available in the Detailed Browsing Log.
Sometimes, the URL provides a basic explanation of what the user is looking at. (In the screenshot above, the user has visited the Facebook group “Mass Effect Fans,” for example.) In other instances, the URL may not provide much information about the page. A Facebook user or group may just use a random string of letters and numbers instead of a custom name. In that case, Covenant Eyes cannot accurately report whether that particular group or page is harmless, or if it’s masking pornography.
What to look for
As we continue to improve our technology to monitor Internet use (and HTTPS in particular), there are a few strategies you can use to dig deeper into the information Covenant Eyes provides, as well as to bring greater openness to how the Internet is used across all devices.
1. Get to Know the Detailed Browsing Log
For simplicity, Internet Accountability Reports do not list every single URL accessed by a Covenant Eyes member. Instead, the Report shows only three pageviews for sites that are rated at or above the selected Sensitivity Level. The rest of the information (including multiple page visits and those rated appropriate for everyone) is available in the Detailed Browsing Log.
In the Detailed Browsing Log, every URL accessed through Covenant Eyes is reported in 15-minute increments. We recommend using it in a few key ways:
- Look for strange times. If the Internet was accessed at a strange time of day, look deeper at the logs. It may be something as simple as an automatic update, or it may signal inappropriate use of the Internet.
- Do searches for HTTPS websites. The Detailed Browsing Log allows you to search for specific URLs. For instance, if you search for a website like Youtube.com, Facebook.com, or Twitter.com, you will see all of the activity generated off that URL. This will help with being able to see what Youtube videos were viewed and what Facebook profiles were viewed.
- Dig deeper into individual URLs. Sometimes strange URLs can appear on Accountability Reports. By clicking on “See all,” you can see every instance that a particular URL was accessed. This will help you evaluate whether a specific page was actually a risk, or whether it was simply an ad hosting service, passively viewed on a different site.
2. Ask Covenant Eyes questions about specific URLs
Sometimes even with some deeper investigation, you cannot determine whether a specific page was pornographic or not. Remember, you may submit questions about the Report. You can ask this question by clicking on the URL to open up a details window, then by clicking “Ask a Report Question.”
3. Conduct an app review
On iPhone®, iPad®, and iPod touch®, Covenant Eyes tracks what highly mature domains have been accessed across your entire phone or tablet, and enforces the use of safe search on Google and Bing. For the best protection, use our built-in browser for Filtering and detailed web reporting. On Android™ phones and tablets, Covenant Eyes filters and monitors the Google Chrome and Internet browsers, monitors app activity, blocks access to apps according to your Filter settings, and reports what other, unmonitored apps were used.
We recommend systematically reviewing the apps on the Accountability user’s phone and tablet (with them present) and locking down any apps that allow for unmonitored use of the Internet.
4. Conduct periodic reviews of social media
Social media sites are among the most frequent users of HTTPS to protect their users. At a minimum, you should become a friend or follower of the Accountability User on any social media sites he or she uses, then periodically skim any new “likes,” including athletes and celebrities. In some cases, you may need to ask for the user’s social media sign in information, or even ask the user to temporarily cancel the account while you rebuild trust.