Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Software Focus on Security

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Software Focus on Security

Article excerpt

This month's Focus On looks at products aimed at protecting networks and computers from unwanted intrusions, whether from within a school or from unauthorized third parties. As more and more information is made digital and accessible, school administrators may want to invest in ways to keep confidential information safe, and to keep students' online activities focused.

When several people regularly use the same computer, privacy and security can be compromised. Window Washer 3.0, a program from Webroot, helps to erase traces of computer and Internet use, protecting privacy from one user to the next. The program can instantly clean Windows temp files, recent document lists, find history, run history, Internet cache and history, cookies, the Web browser drop-down address bar, CHK files, the recycle bin, and more. Window Washer can be configured to run automatically in the background and wipe each user's traces at startup and shutdown, or it can be employed at the discretion of a teacher or staff member. Users can choose which files, folders, or registries to clean.

The latest version of Window Washer includes support for the most up-to-date versions of Web browsers, third-party plug-ins, MS Office, Windows, and Windows NT4. Removing unneeded system files and temporary files from these programs not only helps protect users' privacy, but can also help increase overall PC performance. An enhanced "bleach" function securely deletes document and Internet tracks by overwriting the data up to 10 times with random characters.

Another product for computers with multiple users helps to guard the documents themselves. DiskLock from Power On Software provides file locking and encryption with a few simple clicks. The program offers various types of encryption, including DES encryption, and supports multiple users, SCSI devices and IDE drives. Unlimited users can work on the same machine, with total security for each user's data, and varying levels of access permitted for each individual. An administrator package that allows for centralized configuration of DiskLock on networked workstations is available at multi-pack pricing. The program is compatible with both Macs and PCs.

Since DiskLock loads before a computer's system software, it is virtually impossible to bypass, and will not let unauthorized users access the system. An intuitive interface makes encryption and decryption as easy as dragging and dropping a folder. For instantaneous data protection, a hot key screen-locking option lets users immediately blank the screen from within any application, to prevent others viewing sensitive data onscreen. To help monitor the computer's security, DiskLock can log any efforts to access sensitive data. The program will not interfere with ongoing tasks such as fax processing, and file-protection settings prevent accidental deletion of data.

Designed to protect public access computers from malicious or inexperienced users without restricting user activities, Clean Slate from Fortes Grand returns drives to their original state upon reboot. The software takes only minutes to install and, for most installations, requires little or no attention afterwards. Its purpose is to restore the computer to its original configuration, no matter what users have done. This includes erasing files, installing software, downloading viruses and altering icons.

Administrators, by password, can specify individual drives or directories that are not to be protected, allowing persistent changes in some areas of the disk. They can also view all changes made and specify which changes should be undone on reboot, and which should be committed as permanent changes. Ideal for environments where a more aggressive security agent would lock computers down too tightly, Clean Slate is invisible to the user and works on Windows 95/98/NT/2000.

School network administrators require security at the network, session, and application levels of their systems. …

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