Security Software Works Transparently, Reliably

The need for good security software is becoming more obvious everyday. The educational arena, having computer labs with hundreds of machines used by thousands of people, presents a special challenge to companies making security software.

Instructors, administrators and students all need access to certain areas, such as word processing and multimedia applications, but some users must also be prevented from accessing other confidential areas, such as student grades or financial records.

The need also exists to make the security software as user-friendly as possible, for time-challenged educators generally can't fit it in their schedule to sit down and learn a complex program.

Software Makes Big Entrance

Enter usrEZ Software, based in Irvine, Calif. The firm's ultra-SHIELD security software has gained quite a following in the two years since it has been released, and for good reason. The program was voted Best Macintosh Security Product by readers of Infosecurity News, who cited ease-of-use, reliability, compatibility, genuine security and customer service as reasons for choosing ultraSHIELD.

What Dr. Kurt Bartelmehs, of The University of Texas at Austin, has to say about the product emphatically affirms the validity of that award. Acting as the computer coordinator for the department of Geological Sciences, he is responsible for all computer systems including PCs, Sun and SGI workstations, and Macs, of which there are about 40, ranging from Mac IIsi to Power Mac models.

Bartelmehs relates that when he took on this responsibility, there was no consistency from one Mac to another in their configurations. Another thing he quickly discovered was because of their user-friendly nature, "users were always messing with items in the Control Panel as well as tampering with the applications themselves." He reasons that users weren't always trying to be malicious, but were trying to set up the machines the way they thought was best, whether they knew what they were doing or not.

Unanimously Upgraded

The first thing Bartelmehs did to help bring some consistency to the Macs was to research security software. Any changes he made to the Macs without appropriate security software protecting them would probably be gone within a few days, thus the immediate need for security. After looking at several alternatives, Bartelmehs chose ultraSHIELD.

Bartelmehs explains exactly how he uses ultraSHIELD: "During the course of upgrading, I installed ultraSHIELD on every Mac. I found the software extremely easy to use and setup. Since that time, I have had zero problems with people tampering with the machines. The software works in such a way that you can lock users out of any folder containing the system software and other applications. I then place aliases for all the applications under the Apple menu, which allows users to use any application without actually going to the application folder.

"In addition, users cannot change any of the system settings. Also important, ultraSHIELD permits me to lock the Desktop folder so users are not allowed to store their files anywhere on the computer except a folder I have designated, resulting in the computers remaining clean from users leaving their files in undesired locations."

The overall result for users, says Bartelmehs, is that the machines will behave the same way every time they sit down to use them, reducing frustration and keeping the administrator from constantly having to reconfigure machines. "The first semester I used ultraSHIELD, I literally did not have to fix a single Mac."

Fixing Bugs & Other Things

Bartelmehs also credits the company for adding to his overall satisfaction with the product. "They always listen to my suggestions and are genuinely concerned about the quality of their product," he says. When he found some small bugs in the software, the company promptly fixed the bugs and shipped out an updated version.

Recently, the firm has added an ultraSHIELD Educational Template that contains tutorials of the product and extensive details on how beginning users can configure machines to permit normal use of the computer while retaining full security functions.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/1996 issue of THE Journal.