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Locking Computer Software

 
 
newsreader
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      11-18-2004
I want to secure my computer either by software that will restrict use of
programs, or by some sort of physical means. Any suggestions for either?


 
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KG6VQE
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      11-18-2004
If you are using a "NT CLASS" computer (Windows 2000 Pro, or Windows XP),
and you have your disks formatted using NTFS, that is a very secure system.
There are NTFS DOS programs that MAY let someone look into your disks, but
they would have be very sophisticated, and have physical access to the
machine. first thing I would do is remove (or disconnect) the floppy drive.
That would force someone to use a bootable CDROM to try and hack into your
system.

As for physical ways, the simplest is to puchase a Key Lock, and use it to
interrupt the power to the keyboard. All P.C. Keyboards have
microcontrollers in them, that rely on the 5 Volt power. If you disrupt
that, then the keyboad gets no juice, and is escentially dead. There are
commecial products that are plug in boards, that contain the BIOS Signature
AA55, which when booting indicated that that piece of hardware must execute
before others boot. These boards then have a ROM BASED program, that asks
for a password, before the machine will boot. The only problem is this can
be defeated by removing the board.

All these assume that the "hacker" has physical access to the machne, and
can take it apart to diagnose. If you are talking about a sibling,
co-worker, or Mon and Dad, the NTFS locking method would prevent the casual
user from using the system. Of course if someone has unfettered access,
then they can always extract the disk drive, and use another machine to read
the files.


 
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Interfecus
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      11-23-2004
"KG6VQE @thecomputerdood.com>" <info<nospam> wrote in message
news:W%4nd.19154$(E-Mail Removed). com...
> If you are using a "NT CLASS" computer (Windows 2000 Pro, or Windows XP),
> and you have your disks formatted using NTFS, that is a very secure

system.
> There are NTFS DOS programs that MAY let someone look into your disks, but
> they would have be very sophisticated, and have physical access to the
> machine. first thing I would do is remove (or disconnect) the floppy

drive.
> That would force someone to use a bootable CDROM to try and hack into your
> system.


What? If somebody has physical access to the machine then NTFS does _nothing
whatsoever_ to prevent them from accessing it. DOS boot disks that can read
(many also write) the NTFS filesystem without restrictions are freely
available from the net. Any recent linux live CD can mount an NTFS
filesystem for read access too. This is hardly "very secure". I could walk
up to your computer with one of these disks, stick it in the floppy drive,
boot up the computer from the boot disk, and read any of your files without
limitation.

> As for physical ways, the simplest is to puchase a Key Lock, and use it to
> interrupt the power to the keyboard. All P.C. Keyboards have
> microcontrollers in them, that rely on the 5 Volt power. If you disrupt
> that, then the keyboad gets no juice, and is escentially dead. There are
> commecial products that are plug in boards, that contain the BIOS

Signature
> AA55, which when booting indicated that that piece of hardware must

execute
> before others boot. These boards then have a ROM BASED program, that asks
> for a password, before the machine will boot. The only problem is this

can
> be defeated by removing the board.


If the case is opened, a keylock does very little and can be bypassed.

With the cheaper locks that only shut off the keyboard power it would be
easy to build an adaptor that powered it from a battery pack. This wouldn't
even require the case to be opened.

Removing the motherboard would be much harder than just removing the hard
drive and connecting it to another computer so this isn't a likely method of
attack. BIOS passwords are effective against stopping guests in your house
from starting your computer though. If protection of specific files against
any regular user of the computer is required then this would be useless
since they would need to know the BIOS password to start the computer up.

> All these assume that the "hacker" has physical access to the machne, and
> can take it apart to diagnose. If you are talking about a sibling,
> co-worker, or Mon and Dad, the NTFS locking method would prevent the

casual
> user from using the system. Of course if someone has unfettered access,
> then they can always extract the disk drive, and use another machine to

read
> the files.


Yes, the permissions system built into the filesystem will protect against
casual attempts.

The only way to properly secure the information of your computer against a
physical attack is encryption. I believe WinXP Pro has the ability to do
full disk encryption but if that's not an option for you then you can use
software like PGPDisk to protect your valuable information.

For casual stuff, just set your computer up with an administrator and a set
of limited users and restrict the permissions on certain files and programs.
Having said this, I tried to do this on WinXP Home a few days ago and found
that I couldn't do much at all under the limited accounts. The entire system
is infuriatingly inflexible.


 
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Goroka
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      11-25-2004
newsreader wrote:

> I want to secure my computer either by software that will restrict use of
> programs, or by some sort of physical means. Any suggestions for either?


You may want to look into DriveCrypt.
http://www.securstar.com

This software encrypts your entire operating system including boot sector.
Not good for multiple operating systems. Works with Windows2000 & XP.

There is development going on for similar software for Unix/Linux boxes.
Windows 98 has a version of DriveCrypt which is freeware.

Once you have booted up, your drive/s remain encrypted with on-the-fly
decryption.

Restricting use of programs is another issue.
 
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