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Computer Tutor Don Columns for 2005
Block the Bad Guys From Your Data
Here's an unsettling thought: All the software firewalls in the world won't keep your data safe if someone else has physical access to your PC. All it takes is a few minutes and something to store the data on - a blank CD, a removable USB drive, even a lowly floppy disk - and someone else can walk away with a copy of your files. With USB Lock AP, you can avoid this nasty situation by controlling access to various drives.
You can block one CD-ROM drive, one floppy drive, and all USB removable drives with the program's simple interface. For CD and floppy drives, you may need to restart your PC for the protection to take effect. Locking down the CD drive protects the PC from more than unauthorized CD burning: It also blocks CDs from auto-running, which means that no one can install software from a CD while your back is turned. When I tested the CD-drive lock, my computer wouldn't even play a factory-made music CD that it normally handles just fine.
Locking out USB drives was even easier, since the program doesn't require a restart for that function. USB Lock AP can tell the difference between various USB devices, so you can still plug in a USB camera, printer, and so on, while blocking the data flow to a USB drive. In fact, when I tested the program it noticed the USB drive already in a slot and threatened to shut down the PC if it wasn't removed.
Another nice bonus is USB Lock AP's ability to lock folders on any drive. You just drag a folder to the program interface and drop it there. You'll know it worked when you see the folder's icon change to a lock - or if you're unlocking, when it changes back to a folder. Locking and unlocking can take several seconds, though, depending on how much power your PC can spare. Go easy on the mouse button and let the program work.
The USB Lock AP download provides a ten-day free trial. On day nine, I recommend either unlocking everything or registering the program for $15; you really don't want to have it quit on you while something's locked up. I've found e-mail tech support from the vendor, Peru-based Advanced Systems International, to be prompt and helpful. If you'd like more control, you may want to check out SmartLine Vision's DeviceLock, a more full-featured program that performs the same basic functions on a network, plus some extras. But at $35, it's also more expensive.
You can check out a screen shot here:
And download the program here:
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