PC Nanny brings basic security to PC desktop
by Alan Zisman (c)
published in Toronto Computes,
Net Nanny International
When you start up Windows 95 or 98 for the first time
with a log-in prompt, asking for user and name and password.
And it looks like you?re entering a secure network.
Surprise?this is just an illusion. If you enter a new
name and then
type anything you want for a password, the system happily lets you in,
creating a new user account for you. Or if you just press the Escape
the system again happily lets you in.
Pretty secure? Not!
And once they?re logged in someone can do pretty much
want?change the display, fiddle with the Control Panel, wander through
all the drives on the system, add and delete icons from the Start Menu?
in general, have a lot of fun or do a lot of damage, accidentally or
That?s well and good if you?re the only user on the
computer. But often,
that?s not the case. Millions of computers get used by multiple
work, in schools or libraries, or in homes.
Win95/98 isn?t quite a total loss, however. The
thoughtful gnomes of
Redmond created a security application?the System Policy Editor (aka
and then buried it in the deepest folders on the Win9x installation CD.
And didn?t bother to give users a simple way to install it. And only
it in disjointed sections of the Windows Resource Kit (also hidden on
CD). Poledit works, but it?s so powerful that it?s dangerous?I know
users who, while trying to secure their computer locked themselves out,
and ended up having to re-format and start all over. Don?t say I didn?t
Vancouver company, Net Nanny Software International,
Inc. is best known
for Net Nanny?a program allowing parents or others to control where a
can go on the Internet. They?ve recently added PC Nanny to their
line, a program designed to put limits on what a user can do to the
he or she is using.
Aiming primarily at parents, PC Nanny is a simple
little program. When
run for the first time, it asks for a password (and unlike Windows, it
actually requires one!). After that, all you get is a small dialogue
with a few tabs?fewer than a dozen optional settings, to provide damage
control to your PC.
The Control Panel tab offers options to turn off the
Panel, along with Device Manager, and Hardware Profiles from the System
Control Panel. The user can fiddle with the mouse controls or the
sounds, but can?t access these most basic system controls.
The Drives tab lets the administrator show or hide drives?turn off
access to the hard drive and there?s no way your little devil can
delete your data. The Start Menu tab lets you turn off access to the
prompt, the Find and Run menus, and the Taskbar settings. An
tab lets you change the password, and that?s it!
Elegantly simple. If you want access to those items,
simply open PC
Nanny, and remove the checkmarks.
There?s one more ?hidden? feature. After installing PC
Nanny, an option
to encrypt a file is added to the right-click popup menu. Files can
be encrypted after entering the adminstrative password, so only the
can secure them from casual eyes. The encrypted file?s icon changes to
a padlock?to open it, you need to right-click on it, and choose Decrypt
from the popup menu. Users can delete encrypted files, however.
PC Nanny is affordable, easy to use, and offers a
collection of powerful
features that can provide parents and others who are in charge of
computers the peace of mind of knowing that their stored data and
setup are safer.