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mIRC- Locking client to specific server? #175464 23/04/07 03:10 AM
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thecomputerdude Offline OP
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Hi all,
I've been digging into mIRC rather extensively cleaning out the serverlists and snipping some things here and there, short of modifying the EXE file. I'm building a "sanitized" version of mIRC for use with a private online school with a private server. Many of the students' parents don't like the free-roaming capability of the mIRC client, but the school prefers the mIRC chat interface. I've taken it upon myself to voluntarily deliver a server-locked client, (No adding servers to the connect list!) that cannot have another server added unless the user has enough technical knowledge to rewrite the INI file that the serverlist is in. In general, I want to disable the "Add Server" button in the Options box.
Does anyone have any comments/suggestions to go on? I'm using mIRC v6.16 with ChaoticScript (better functionality than standard mIRC). This isn't going to be sold/profited from in any way by me, nor is the registration popup going to be disabled (though I would like it if unregistered mIRC disconnected every 15 minutes after trial expires).

Last edited by thecomputerdude; 23/04/07 03:12 AM.
Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: thecomputerdude] #175465 23/04/07 03:19 AM
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Riamus2 Offline
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Students with any knowledge of IRC can always just use /server to access other networks. If you really want to use it and have it "locked" to only your private network, then I would suggest using a quality firewall that allows you to only allow IRC connections on one network/server. Then, no matter what a student does, he/she cannot connect to other networks.

Beyond that, IRC in a school setting should be supervised. I've done IRC with students myself, but rather than lock it down, I just made sure that I watched what they were doing. Of course, this requires that the teacher(s) know IRC and computers really well or students who may know more can always "fool" the teacher.


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Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: Riamus2] #175488 23/04/07 12:38 PM
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thecomputerdude Offline OP
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So there's no way to disable the server change function? I'm guessing it's something embedded in the EXE cause I haven't found it in the DLL or INI files yet. It would be great if I could get mirc to not recognise the /server entry and the add button (most of the students probably don't know about the /server usage).

I'm probably good enough with just removing the serverlists, cause unless the student is up to no good I don't suppose they'll be trying to find the server names anyway.

Last edited by thecomputerdude; 23/04/07 12:39 PM.
Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: thecomputerdude] #175489 23/04/07 01:10 PM
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RoCk Offline
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Quote:
embedded in the EXE cause I haven't found it in the DLL or INI files yet


It is an internal command and there is no DLL with a clean
install of mIRC. You could add a server alias to just stop
the command from being used, it can be bypassed by using an
exclamation /!server but they probably won't know
about that either.

Code:
alias server return

Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: RoCk] #175494 23/04/07 02:04 PM
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Om3n Offline
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Im guessing your students wouldnt have the knowledge to use a web based irc client? or be able to install other clients? The students can not just be trusted? i mean, no matter what you do, if they are knowledgable or willing to look into it enough, they will get around it anyway, so your efforts seem somewhat redundant.

If thats not the case, then just turn off the view options for menubar, toolbark, switchbar... create a little script that auto comments them to the private network and channel... add some code (like rock suggested) to prevent some commands being used... and delete the help file.

Personally i think its a waste of time, If they want to get around whatever you do, then they will. If they can browse they will be able to get onto other networks, or infact find help about mirc, or even find a mirc.exe online to replace your modified one with.

On another note: isnt modifying the mirc binary (directly) against the user agreement?


"Allen is having a small problem and needs help adjusting his attitude" - Flutterby
Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: Om3n] #175501 23/04/07 03:28 PM
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thecomputerdude Offline OP
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I'm not doing anything that I think would violate the EULA in any way, being that mIRC is a rather open program. Sure it's shareware and I'm keeping it that way.

The average student barely has the know-how to get around mIRC, let alone do anything special. Sure, there were some like me who pushed the frontiers way farther than anyone else, but this project is more to satisfy the parents (who've heard bad things about mIRC) needs for protection. Basically removing the serverlist did that and even basic locking of the server access commands should complete the package. If I can make it hard to change the server (for the average user who relies on other people to fix their computer) then I will have met my goal. If someone really wanted by, they could just download the standard mIRC and hide the folder somewhere.

My current version of mIRC is standalone, needing no install/unpack file. Just a folder. I'm not sure if the trial clock is registry linked but I know that moving the folder does not affect the countdown. Registration works the same as the installed version.

I can provide a download link to the folder if someone in charge wants to check it for compliance with mIRC regulations/ EULA. No reverse engineering here laugh

Last edited by thecomputerdude; 23/04/07 03:30 PM.
Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: thecomputerdude] #175504 23/04/07 04:44 PM
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Riamus2 Offline
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I still say that it is the teacher's job to be monitoring ALL internet use closely in a classroom setting if the teacher chooses to allow such access. And if the teacher is doing so, then there is no need to go to all of that trouble. Remove the servers.ini file so that students can't just see the choices, but otherwise, just make it a rule that any student who chooses to use another network will be disciplined in some manner appropriate to your classroom/school. Then, be strict regarding that.


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Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: thecomputerdude] #175518 24/04/07 12:26 AM
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I suppose a DLL could be written that handles new server connections sort of like stuntour does (hooking new socket connections). Except instead of establishing an SSL connection, connections to "bad servers" would be closed. I've never done this, so I can't go into detail. Although, since mIRC can just be run on a FlashDrive, what would be the point? wink

I agree, firewall is the best way to go.


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Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: Riamus2] #175520 24/04/07 12:59 AM
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That all sounds good, but having been in computer classes not too many years ago, I know that it is next to impossible for a single teacher to monitor 30+ students. Especially when you are monitoring something so un-obvious as being on one network vs another. mIRC has the ability to hide connections with the press of an F-key. There is bound to be someone in the class who knows or can figure out how to get onto another network without the teachers knowing.

Given the nature of mIRC (its ability to do the same thing several ways), the most absolute (and simple) way of regulating the network is to use something that the students don't have access to (ie a firewall on the gateway computer).

-genius_at_work

Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: genius_at_work] #175523 24/04/07 01:07 AM
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Riamus2 Offline
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I did mention a firewall. There is also the option of having computers connected to the teacher's computer so that the teacher can monitor what's being done. It's pretty easy to stick a script in that will randomly "ping" the teacher's computer with all open networks, or use a more advanced program that lets you actually view all classroom computers' screens from your own. A smart teacher won't let students know that this is being done, but will keep track and then when noticing someone on a network that they shouldn't be on, walk around casually looking at the computers and then "catch" the student even if it's hidden.


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Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: Riamus2] #175530 24/04/07 05:46 AM
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Om3n Offline
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Im just curious what kind of school/class this is? If experience in this area has taught me anything, its that there is always a student smarter than the teacher. (at least in the area relative to a particular situation)

During my own schooling, my friend and i were actually given time off other classes to spend testing the networks new configuration and security. I dont say this to brag, just to demonstrate my point by example.


"Allen is having a small problem and needs help adjusting his attitude" - Flutterby
Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: Om3n] #175537 24/04/07 02:34 PM
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thecomputerdude Offline OP
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This is for an at-home course connecting to a private school server, where the parents are the monitors of the students. I'm doing this to make the parents feel more at ease with leaving their kid on mIRC alone for a few minutes, or letting them get on whenever without needing supervision. Quite a few parents have restricted their kid's interaction with other students via mIRC in the private, monitored server due to their fears about mIRC. This school is pretty much worldwide service, so the students don't get to meet each other very often.

Basically, if I make it even a little bit hard to add a server, that will mean it's that much harder to "cheat" the system. wink

As far as firewalls go, I do not know the capabilities of the people who run the individual firewalls.

Last edited by thecomputerdude; 24/04/07 02:35 PM.
Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: thecomputerdude] #175542 24/04/07 06:15 PM
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Om3n Offline
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Ah, well that certainly paints a better picture (i was kinda wondering why it was such a big deal to the parents, or their business what software you used in your class to begin with, in the sense that if they knew better the students wouldnt need to be in your class)


"Allen is having a small problem and needs help adjusting his attitude" - Flutterby
Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: thecomputerdude] #175544 24/04/07 07:25 PM
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If the users will be able to access this private server from somewhere other than the school then this would be a bad idea in general.

If the users would only have access to the private server from the school and the school uses the same router throughout the whole school you could just block all ports in the router set-up except 1 port going both in and outbound. This port should be a port that is used very infrequently with any network. Do a bit of research to see which ports are the most common (6667 and 6668) and which are the least common. (?)

If you're firewall or router is unable to block ports (unlikely) I would stick with your method of trying to remove all possible ways of adding servers or connecting to new servers.

I hope this helped a bit smile


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Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: Spitfire3292] #175545 24/04/07 07:34 PM
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I could do port blocking but I doubt that many of the home users know how to use their router other than plug it in. So putting up as many barriers in mIRC as possible is a plus.

Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: thecomputerdude] #175562 25/04/07 01:25 AM
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If you want to have students connect from home/etc to a specific server, your best bet would be to use a java-based IRC client. You would set the server(s) exactly how you want them using the settings in the server-side of the java client.

-genius_at_work

Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: genius_at_work] #175595 25/04/07 06:58 PM
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Very interesting Idea except since it isnt mIRC specifically, I think he would have to get an approval so that he could use the format and button setup and options that mIRC uses.


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Re: mIRC- Locking client to specific server? [Re: thecomputerdude] #175654 26/04/07 04:25 AM
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It's helpful that you explained it wasn't in a school setting. That information would have shortened this thread greatly. Simply put, do what was already mentioned... use a Java or CGI chat that is installed on a web site and requires a password. This will let your students (who have a password) connect to the school server and they'd only be able to connect to it.

As you have stated this is so that students can communicate with each other, it is far from necessary to use mIRC specifically if there is a better solution.

Of course, there are other ways to allow chat to be run from a specific server and only give access to those who have passwords (or who have specific IPs). One example, which isn't really what I'd choose to do, but just shows that the ways you can do this "safely" are many, is to set up a Telnet BBS that includes chat. Students can log in, share files (sending in homework, for example), chat, etc. You could even allow them to play specific games (Doors) if you wanted to based on how much they chat (give points to play based on time online or whatever). Like I said, that's a rather unusual method. It's just there to show that you can do this many ways and are not limited to mIRC or even IRC.


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