Symantec Corp. has released version 11.5 of its pcAnywhere software, which 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.

The upgraded security

of version 11.5 is crucial for London, Ont.-based Paradigm Financial Advisors, an insurance and financial brokerage firm which beta tested the product.

Craig Pike, Paradigm’s system technician, said the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) forced his company to take security more seriously.

“”There are some big lawsuits you can get involved with if you’re not secure,”” Pike said.

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.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst with the San Jose, Calif.-based Enderle Group, said he is “”surprised it has taken this long”” for a vendor to release a product with these security features.

Other new capabilities of pcAnywhere include the ability to control other machines from handheld devices running the Pocket PC operating system.

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.

Mike Baldwin, Symantec’s senior product manager for enterprise administration, 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 user’s screen to the help desk, the administrators can click on the tasks they need on their machines.

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