A Canadian insurance and financial brokerage firm says the upgraded version of Symantec’s pcAnywhere software will be crucial for protecting customer data and complying with legislative requirements.

Symantec Corp. released version

11.5 of pcAnywhere Monday, a product that lets IT administrators control personal computers from other machines. New features of 11.5 include the ability to control Linux machines and 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) security.

London, Ont.-based Paradigm Financial Advisors, which is currently using the beta version, has had to take security more seriously following the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, according to system technician Craig Pike. Paradigm stores social insurance numbers, among other important customer data.

“”Security is priority No. 1 here, because there are some big lawsuits you can get involved with if you’re not secure,”” Pike said. “”pcAnywhere fulfills that need.””

Version 11.5 also encrypts all login information by default and lets hosts block incoming Internet Protocol (IP) addresses after a pre-determined number of failed connection attempts.

Security is an “”absolute requirement”” for remote administration software tools, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the San Jose, Calif.-based Enderle Group. He added he is “”surprised it has taken this long”” for a vendor to release a product with these security features.

The pcAnywhere upgrade will include the ability to control other machines from handheld devices running the PocketPC operating system.

Enderle said users are concerned about the security of handheld devices, and manufacturers will start to ship more devices with built-in fingerprint scanners and smart card readers.

The support for both PocketPC and Linux seem to be the most popular new features of 11.5, based on comments received from beta users, said Mike Baldwin, Symantec’s senior product manager for enterprise administration.

Version 11.5 allows Linux, Windows and PocketPC users to remotely manage Linux systems without any special tools. It also lets Linux users manage Windows and Linux machines through a Java-based Web interface. The pcAnywhere Mobile version lets users access system from their PocketPC machines through TCP/IP connections, including Wi-Fi, cellular, Bluetooth and infrared ports.

Several features of 11.0 are included in 11.5, including one user interface for eight common administrator tools: task manager, command prompt, services, edit system files, edit registry, event log, install programs and system control.

Symantec included these in one common user interface to save remote administrators the trouble of going into the menu structure of the client’s machine or clicking Control-Alt-Delete.

At Paradigm, this saves administrators a lot of time when they’re trying to troubleshoot users’ PCs or control the server, Pike said.

“”It’s nice to have those buttons right there in your face, rather than having to hunt for them,”” Pike said. “”Often times that’s a problem with the server at our office — we’ve got to reboot it or we’ve got to shut it down.””

Baldwin said this feature is also designed to save bandwidth when administrators are trying to help users calling in from dial-up modems.

Instead of transferring the video file of the users’ screen to the help desk, the administrators can click on the tasks they need on their machines.

“”With remote management, I click on registry editor and I’m in it,”” Baldwin said. “”I click on task manager and I’m in it. I click on command prompt, and I’m in it. Not only is it fewer steps for me to do it manually, but it’s also much less video being pulled back, so it’s consuming far less bandwidth on that connection.””

PCAnywhere 11.5 is available now as a download from Symantec’s Web site, and from resellers and retailers. Estimated single-seat pricing is US$200.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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