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Total PC Protection

Main UI When it comes to protecting a PC – or a school’s worth of them – Norton’s 360 covers all the hacker’s bases. You can get the beta of version 6.0 of Norton 360 with a free download to thwart everything from viruses and spyware to phishing and identity theft threats. Finally, the software can help tune your computers for peak efficiency.

 

Freebee Friday: Android Attacks

NMS_Lite_Screenshot_3 Afraid that the weak link in the perimeter security fence for your district’s network are those Android tablets you just bought? Symantec’s free Mobile Security beta is now available as a free download for schools to try out. The NMS Lite beta can stop viruses and malware from invading a tablet while giving the owner the ability to lock a stolen device with a text message. Like other Norton programs, it can be automatically updated when the software changes to meet new challenges. The beta is free from the Android Market, but the full program will cost $30 when it goes final.

 

Keeping a School Safe

Norton_2011_Box_Shot crop With every school year comes a new set of students as well as a new version of Norton’s flagship security software. The latest batch, Norton Internet Security and AntiVirus 2011, are now available and in light of an increase in cybercrimes, it was worth the wait.

On top of the expected pattern recognition of viruses, the software has a new Reputation Engine that checks with the experience that others have had with a piece of software. It can revive older PCs that are already bogged down with malicious software with the company’s PowerEraser software. Making a recovery boot DVD disc or USB memory key to bring a dead system back to life is quicker and easier than the 2010 version of the software. Finally, the program’s SafeSearch can keep kids away from objectionable and pornographic Web sites.

This protection is not at the cost of performance, however, with Norton 2011 leading in the speed to start up, launch apps and go to a variety of Web sites. It includes an innovative System Insight 2.0 screen that keeps an eye on all applications that are running and warns if any are slowing down. A cool feature that can help diagnose problems is the System Insight screen, which displays a line graph that shows processor or memory usage with the system’s usage shown in blue and NIS’s portion in yellow. This way you can keep an eye on your system’s power or trouble shoot when something goes wrong.

Nis 2011 ui There are 32- and 64-bit versions for Windows, and Norton should have a new Mac version in a few months. Despite all this protection, the current version of the software takes only a few minutes to install and set up, but it immediately downloaded and installed an 80MB program update. All told, expect it to take less than 10 minutes per PC to get complete protection.

Pricing of the new version is roughly the same as the 2010 edition. A license for 3 copies of Internet Security 2011 costs $70 with a year of updates, while a 10-pack costs $200. Volume discounts for schools are available.

Keeping a School Safe

Norton_2011_Box_Shot[1] With every school year comes a new set of students as well as a new version of Norton’s security software. The latest batch, Norton Internet Security and AntiVirus 2011, is now available and in light of an increase in cybercrimes, it was worth the wait. On top of a new Reputation Engine that checks with the experience that others have had with a piece of software, Norton 2011 has a new way of examining software to ferret out viruses and malware. It can help with older PCs that are already bogged down with malicious software with the company’s PowerEraser software. Making a recovery boot CD or USB memory key to bring a dead system back to life is quicker and easier than the 2010 version of the software.

Nis 2011 ui It’s not at the cost of performance, however, with Norton 2011 leading in the speed to start up, launch apps and go to a variety of Web sites. It includes an innovative System Insight 2.0 screen that keeps an eye on all applications that are running and warns if any are slowing down. There are 32- and 64-bit versions for Windows, and Norton should have a new Mac version in a few months.

Freebee Friday: Wipe It, Wipe it Good

Summer time and it’s time to get rid of old, antiquated PCs and (hopefully) replace them with new ones. Chances are that the hard drive holds more than a few old tests, grades and the remnants of Web research along with personal notes and demographic information on students that are best not shared with the world. In other words, before the PC leaves the building or its parts are reused, the hard drive needs to be wiped clean.

You canHard drive eraser format the drive but a digital sleuth can recover a surprising amount of data with software like Disk Doctor or DDR Professional. The best bet is a program that takes everything off of the drive like Hard Drive Eraser. It’s free, simple and quick. Version 2.0 is only 618KB of data so it downloads and installs quickly.

Hard Disk Eraser can shred data to four standards, including replacing the data with zeros, DOD 5220-22.M, US Army and the slow but utterly effective Guttman spec. I prefer the DOD standard, which renders the drive data-free but doesn’t take the whole day to clean the drive.

After taking the drive out and connecting it to an SATA drive cable (a USB connector works just as well but is slower), I plug it into a machine I use for maintenance and repair of other PCs. This is because you can’t erase a drive that the system is running on.

Ddr-professional-screenshot1 Once you’ve chosen that you want to erase the C drive, you’ll need to type in “ERASE” to confirm you want to get rid of everything on the drive. Then, the program gets to work. It cleaned a 160GB drive that’s two-thirds full of all sorts of data, ranging from photos and videos to presentations an all sorts of Acrobat, Word and presentation files. A horizontal progress bar inches along to show that bit by bit the data is disappearing.

As a precaution, when it’s done, I usually run Disk Doctor or DDR Professional to see if there’s any data to recover from the drive. Every time, I’ve done this the drive has come out of the process clean as the day it was made and ready for the junkyard or recycled in another computer.

A+

Hard Drive Eraser
Free

+ Can quickly wipe any hard drive
+ Four different standards used
+ Free

- Can’t format system’s main drive
- Need to confirm action by typing ERASE



 

Next Gen AntiVirus Protection

Norton b Every year brings new threats to school PCs and 2010 is no different. With everything from scareware to rogue search engine results, it’s a dangerous world out there. A sneak peek at the next generation of protection is available from Symantec with the public beta of Norton’s Internet Security 2011. On top of traditional virus signatures as well as Norton’s trusted file approach, Norton Security 2011 adds a Power Eraser to protect against fake antivirus messages that are becoming so common these days as well as more browser support, scanning of instant messages and the ability to set up (and update) a memory key for reviving computers that are so infected that they won’t start. It’s available right now as a free beta for you to try out.

PeeWee Protection

Peeweekit-3 If your students are all over the place when it comes to using the school’s computers, thePeeWee Kit can be a one-stop way to control things while stocking the PCs with useful educational software. It comes in three versions for prekindergarten, Early Elementary and Upper Elementary classrooms and comes with PeeWee Patrol and PeeWee Privacy. Together they keep hackers from getting into the PCs and give school officials control over when the computers can be used, what they can be used for and what Web sites they can visit. Each version includes 7 educational titles as well, ranging from Sammy’s Science House to Reader Rabbit. The kits cost $30 each but there are discounts for schools of between 10- and 30 percent.

Update Danger


Windows_Generic_v_print Have you loaded the latest Microsoft security update for Windows? You might want to uninstall it because there’s a rising tide of complaints that it can shut down PCs with no warning. The screen just goes blank and with it goes anything you – or your students or teachers—have been working on. It’s the November 10-th update that is to blame because it changes the computer’s Access Control List of approved users. The best fix so far involves editing the registry file, but comes not from Microsoft, but Prevk, an English security firm.

I Spy

Pc tools What could possibly be worse than going through the hassles of guarding a school’s computers from spyware attack? Dealing with the consequences of an attack are much harder, more time consuming and a lot more frustrating that preventing the damage in the first place. The latest version of PC Tools Spyware Doctor is a complete protection toolkit that can make it a lot easier and quicker to keep the prying eyes of the Internet away from your school’s computers.

The key is that its ThreatFire technology finds and blocks potential bad software before it becomes a threat while its multi-layered approach can protect against phishing and silent drive-by downloads. The program’s Site Guard keeps kids away from unsavory sites that can hold potential dangers and Cookie Guard gets rid of tracking and ad cookies. Plus, the software’s Idle Mode scans for bad software while the machine isn’t being used, but is smart enough not to do this while a notebook is on battery power.

It works on all recent versions of Windows (including Win 7) and costs $40 for a 3-system license. If all this sounds interesting for your school, there’s a free trial that detects, but doesn’t eliminate, threats.


 

FREEBEE FRIDAY: Cleaning Up a School’s PC Act

360 ui The next version of Norton 360 is in the works, and any school or district IT administrator worth his or her pencils ought to try the beta out. It’s free, runs on Windows 7, includes all the suite’s features and will work until slightly after the commercial product comes out. On top of the latest anti-virus protection and optimization that includes the ability to start some programs (like Media Player) after the system has booted up. My favorite is the Web Restore section which lets users back-up their work by saving key files online and restore them in the event of a digital emergency. The beta includes the use of up to 2GB of Web storage space Give it a try to see how well it fits into your technology plan and infrastructure.


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Tech Tools are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.