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For your eyes only.

If you had important or confidential material lying about your office, you would probably lock the door or, at the very least, not invite unauthorized individuals in and leave them alone to look around. Yet that's essentially what happens when companies let anyone, even temporary help, access computers.

Some software programs, such as Wordperfect and Lotus 1-2-3, allow users to protect individual documents with passwords, and some PCs have keys that make it possible to lock the keyboard if a unit is on or lock the entire system when off. Both security systems have weak points, however that leave the system open to unauthorized use.

Human nature is the first problem. The key mechanism "requires some action and most people don't do it," says Doug Theis, a systems analyst for Methodist Hospital of Indiana, Inc., in Indianapolis, who recently participated in testing a new security software product called Easi-Lock. In addition, some models have keys located on the back, and tight quarters make them inaccessible in real-life office situations, says Theis.

Passwords cannot be ignored by users, but they can sometimes be defeated or discovered by hackers. "Someone who knows computers well can snoop around with something like D-Bug, which comes with DOS, and which lets you look at the inards of programs and data. So hackers who are trying to get into a program that does have password security on it will often try to figure out what file is holding the passwords, and they will get in and look at those," explains Forest Belt, a spokesperson for CDS Group, Inc., in Indianapolis, Indiana, which created Easi-Lock. Easi-Lock passwords are not susceptible to discovery from such programs, according to Belt.

The CDS software does not lock individual documents. It provides security at the program level in a two-step process. It first locks the target software when the Elock disk is installed. The entire application, such as Windows, will then be inaccessible until the Erun portion of Easi-lock is executed through use of the user's name and password.

"If the application doesn't have any security built into it, Easi-Lock gives you a wall or barrier into that application," says Theis. He notes that some proprietary data is only stored on one application. Locking the program, in effect, locks that data. "In addition, if the application, like |Lotus~ 1-2-3, protects at the document level, you can enhance your protection by |installing Easi-Lock~ at the application level."

Theis says the software offers one way to prevent unauthorized personnel from using computers after hours. He notes that the product can also discourage illegal copying of licensed software, because each Elock and Erun pair is unique. The user of one set cannot run a program with his or her own Erun if the application was originally secured with another user's Elock.

Companies can be prosecuted for allowing software to be pirated. "If we were to ever go to court because someone illegally copied software, |the security program~ would show we have taken steps to try to prevent that," says Theis.

Theis notes that Easi-Lock is relatively inexpensive (about $70 for a one-unit use) and does not slow down the functioning of secured programs. Even so, he says, "This isn't something we'd buy for every PC in the hospital. We would only use it in problem areas... areas like a lobby that leads to four offices."
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Security Works; protection of confidential information
Author:Addis, Karen; Arbetter, Lisa; Murphy, Joan; Wilson, Caroline
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jul 1, 1993
Words:561
Previous Article:Tall tale or the truth?
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