SFLock centralises screen saver security

SFLock centralises screen saver security

Netoria Inc's SFLock 32 helps NetWare network managers and Windows users simplify their lives. It provides central control over a number of screen-saver options, and grants the system manager the capability to override the screen saver, in order to work on a PC. It also lets users protect their screen savers with their network password, eliminating the need to memorise a second password.

SFLock 32 compares favourably to Birch Software's similar Screen Pass, which extends screen savers for less than $US4 per node. I looked at an early beta version of SFLock 32 and not surprisingly encountered a few rough edges, but overall I found it to be a very promising product.

Although I had to rely on tentative, online documentation, the instructions were clear and the installation proceeded smoothly. But when I rebooted my PC to use the program, I ran into trouble.

The SFLock 32 program looked at Novell Directory Services to see how it should be configured. Because an SFLock 32 object hadn't been created, the program got confused and delivered a page fault. However, I was able to complete my log-in and create an SFLock 32 object, which solved the problem.

The SFLock 32 object controls the SFLock 32 program. It sets the template values that will be honoured by the screen savers. It also lets the system manager either dictate how the screen savers will be set up, or set ranges on items to allow users to customise their systems.

For instance, with SFLock 32 I could set the minimum and maximum allowable delay before a screen saver activated. If a user selects a time outside that range, SFLock 32 sets it to the appropriate extreme in the allowable range. My beta version didn't alert the user that an entry was out of range, but Netoria tells me the shipping version will.

In addition to the supervisor override, SFLock 32 also enables automatic PC shutdown. This can happen if the PC has been unattended for a specific length of time, or at a certain time each day. My beta version had some problems with the time of day function. Rather than shutting down if the PC was on at a given time, it seemed to shut down at any time after the selected time. Netoria says it has also corrected this problem in the final release.

SFLock 32 lets you either select a screen saver for your users or permit them to select their own. You can also choose whether to limit users to a list of approved screen savers or allow any screen saver. This last option can be important, as some screen savers aren't quite stable and it's helpful to be able to ban them.

In the current beta version the process of creating the list of permitted screen savers is not straightforward.

The shipping release will correct this and also verify that the selected screen saver is really the one that the system manager intended, to guard against users renaming files to circumvent the restrictions.

An especially nice touch that SFLock 32 adds to screen savers is the capability for a system administrator to leave a note for the PC's user. Better yet, such messages aren't visible until someone unlocks the PC using the correct password. If you manage Windows workstations with NetWare, SFLock 32 is worth a long look.

The Bottom Line

SFLock 32, beta 2

SFLock 32 tightens your PC workstation's screen-saver security by adding central control and a nifty notepad function.

Pros: Allows the network password to unlock screen savers; allows system managers to override screen access; central control of user options via Novell Directory Services.

Cons: Some shutdown glitches; supports NetWare onlyPrice: Not applicablePlatforms: Server: NetWare 4.11; Clients: Windows 95, Windows NT WorkstationNetoriaTel (02) 6281 2234Fax (02) 6281

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