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Public computers get security help
July 7, 2005 6:40 PM   Subscribe

Securing public computers isn't easy, but a Microsoft kit to do that may also help families share home computers. If you share a Windows XP Home or Professional computer with other users, particularly, children, or family members, you may find the Shared Computer Toolkit beta an interesting idea. But caveat emptor: this is free "beta" software, has a spooky "validation" process to confirm your copy of Windows is "genuine," and installation is not for the faint of heart. Then again, neither is re-installing Windows after a friend/relative/SO inadvertently trashes your computer.
posted by paulsc (18 comments total)

 
Microsoft has been adding a one-time per computer validation process that is invoked when you download software from their site. Not too spooky, really, given that your Windows activation already did something similar. Those wishing to beta test the Microsoft anti-spyware solution likely saw it as well. Seems reasonable, especially since pirating Windows itself has gotten a bit tougher after Service Pack 2.
posted by VulcanMike at 6:48 PM on July 7, 2005


"status: Either we require login from users from your ISP because of abuse, or the thread is marked members only. Please login and then back up to view."
posted by quonsar at 6:50 PM on July 7, 2005


For those of you familair with Windows administration, this looks like a friendlier and enhanced version of the Zero Administration Kit (ZAK).

As quonsar points, the first link is also bogus. Even entering a BugMeNot login results in a paid subscription offer page.
posted by VulcanMike at 6:52 PM on July 7, 2005


Pepsi BSOD
posted by furtive at 6:55 PM on July 7, 2005


What a great idea!

*coughUNIXcough*
posted by odinsdream at 6:59 PM on July 7, 2005


Personally I'm done jumping through hoops to insure that billg can afford yet another ivory backscratcher.
posted by clevershark at 7:03 PM on July 7, 2005


This is the software equivalent of providing a fly-swatting kit to someone trapped in a mosquito swarm, is it not?

Has anyone tried it out? Does it Not Suck? Is it something I could install on my dad's PC and never have to worry about again?
posted by wakko at 7:06 PM on July 7, 2005


wakko writes "This is the software equivalent of providing a fly-swatting kit to someone trapped in a mosquito swarm, is it not?"

Actually it's more the equivalent of putting a fly-swatting kit in the middle of a mosquito-infested swamp... the kit's a nice touch, but if its makers were a little more fastidious at what they do you wouldn't need it in the first place.
posted by clevershark at 7:21 PM on July 7, 2005


Seems reasonable, especially since pirating Windows itself has gotten a bit tougher after Service Pack 2.

Really? How exactly? I find that really hard to believe.
posted by SweetJesus at 7:39 PM on July 7, 2005


Sorry about the bogus first link, as I didn't see it was behind a barrier, and the link from Google pops you straight to the thread, so they are accepting the big G as a referrer, and not the Blue. Interesting, I guess... Anyway, mea culpa, and my apologies.
posted by paulsc at 8:11 PM on July 7, 2005


Pirating a copy of Windows is so '98!

The new DSRM or whatever is beyond my normal human cracking ability, I'm sorry..
posted by Balisong at 9:01 PM on July 7, 2005



So Microsoft deserves to be crapped on for security even when they do things to make their Operating System more secure? For FREE?
posted by srboisvert at 1:07 AM on July 8, 2005


So Microsoft deserves to be crapped on? maybe.
posted by rjt at 1:32 AM on July 8, 2005


This does look interesting and more than just an update to the ZAK. Specifically the 'Windows disk protection tool' looks as if it will allow a machine to restart to a known state, removing all user-initiated changes. This is a very big deal for shared computers (ie: internet cafe) - currently it's possible with Driveshield which has saved me thousands of hours, but is clumsy to manage through updates. Definitely worth watching.
posted by grahamwell at 2:42 AM on July 8, 2005


This is why my SO has her own box, with a master image. And guests only get net access via my Debian box.

Easy.
posted by Samizdata at 3:03 AM on July 8, 2005


While utilities to secure internet cafes have been available for years, maybe this will get people who run such places to actually secure the machines.

I, for one, refuse to log in to any online RPG, for instance, from a public machine for fear of keyloggers. Maybe this will help.
posted by perianwyr at 4:35 AM on July 8, 2005


pirating Windows itself has gotten a bit tougher after Service Pack 2.
Didn't they even roll back the ban on FCKGW keys because it was more important to get the security fixes out? Even still, it's not as if a VLK generator is rarer than plutonium.
posted by darukaru at 6:43 AM on July 8, 2005


If this makes administration of my shared computer lab easier, great. I'm really getting tired of uninstalling the damn Yahoo toolbars that keep getting added in every time some grad student updates Acrobat for example, but not allowing the grads to install software in a lab reserved just for them is a major hassle both for them and for me. Locking them out of making any system-wide changes to specific things would make me happy, and forcing them to treat these shared computers as something other than their own personal file storage site would probably help them become more responsible at keeping backup copies of important things.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:09 AM on July 8, 2005


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