The Perfect Software Security – An Unattainable Holy Grail

Conflict is as much a part of human nature as much as eating and sleeping are. It’s an software security attack defenseinstinct, embedded deep into the primordial, animal side of our brain. And in every conflict there are two sides: the one that is attacking and the one that is reacting to that attack. The side that adapts faster is the one that wins.

Attackers will set an objective for themselves and they will probe and prod at their victim’s defenses until they punch through. In turn, defenders need to anticipate the attacker’s goal and focus their efforts and resources in to preventing the attacker’s success. It a good old fashion arms race and these basic mechanics of combat are the reason why attacking is considered far easier than defending. Continue reading

Freeware – Sword and Board Against False Advertising

Last time we took a quick glimpse at the importance of freeware and demo software Word-of-Mouth-freewareapplications and how they could serve a company as well as the user if they were brought back into focus. To further this point, we are going to look at some other practical applications of free trial software. To do this, we are going to take an in depth look at the advantages of a hands-on experience and what it can prevent.

Trial version software can either support or combat two things: product advertisement and word-of-mouth.

Advertisement, while not necessarily false, is something designed by the manufacturer with the purpose to convince the client to purchase a certain product. It may, and in most cases is, generally sincere, but it always shows the good side of a product and never even gets anywhere close to any of its problems.  And when the competition throws around slogans like “the very best,” or “incredible” complete honesty doesn’t really seem like the best policy anymore. Continue reading

A Cry for Freeware

Freeware and demos still matterFreeware, trial versions and demo software applications have gotten an incredibly bad reputation over the last decade or so. What once started as a mechanic meant to help, above all others, the user, was twisted and deformed by aggressive marketers in an instrument of propaganda and into an advertising machine. Filled with brand-exposure strategies, like traps and hidden (or at the very least less-than-obvious) components and side features, like browser taskbars, homepage modifications, desktop web-link shortcuts and other forms of invasive and intrusive behavior has made people very suspicious of this software category. Free demonstrations applications have also been used by hackers as a medium to distribute malware and computer viruses, which only contributed to their bad reputation.

Unfortunately, this has made users give free demos a wide berth and steer clear from them.

Today’s mercantile, competitive market has also promoted a very linear train of thought: if it’s cheap, it lacks quality. Filled with cynicism, we’ve also concluded that if something is free, than it’s a trap. I mean, there has to be a hidden catch somewhere, right? Nothing in life is free. Everyone pays the ferryman, one way or another. Continue reading

What Software Is Really Running on Your Computer – Web Hosting With Company Resources

An individual cannot really hope to match the IT resources that a company has at its disposal. The only domain where an individual is likely to get the better of a company is in individual hardware configuration.  The general office workstation is usually a middle section performance machine, designed to handle a minimum of operating tasks and can’t really compare to a home computer tweaked for performance with a custom configuration. Even so, he will lose a fight with one of the specialized company computers, those meant to handle video and image editing, like the ones in the design department or in marketing.

Because of this, a company’s IT assets can represent a real gold mine for some employees. Sooner or later, they might realize that his employer’s servers and internet bandwidth are exactly what they always needed for their personal use but could never afford. His community forum, his upload mirrors or even a torrent site could really thrive in this lush and luxurious new environment.

As such, you could easily find out that your company’s IT assets have been used to host private services. Continue reading

What Software Is Really Running on Your Office Computers? Video Games

Taking a break and unwinding is not a luxury, but a necessity of the working cycle. We saw that working for 8, or even 9 hours straight is counterproductive.  But how far can one go with entertainment during his lunch break before he goes too far? The limit exists, but the line that should not be crossed is a rather broad one and is anything but straight. Still, going too far is unacceptable, for the possible damages far outweigh the benefits.

The argument that “it’s my break, I’m on my time so I can do anything” is childish and irresponsible.

Just because we are on our break, it does not mean that we’ve been temporarily absolved of our responsibilities towards the company. A little bit of Solitaire or a good run through Minefield might be just what you need to unwind during the break. The games don’t even need to be limited to the Windows classics, but a problem can arise when those games get a little bit too advanced. Even if they are on their break, playing, say Battlefield 3 or Borderlands 2, it can seem unprofessional to your fellow colleagues and even more so to a business client that comes into the office for a meeting. Continue reading

What Software Is Really Running on Your Office Computers? Uninformed Piracy

In the Age of Computers, clandestine software is one of the biggest risks for a company.

The software we are talking about is not a virus that breaches your network defenses and quietly infiltrates your office computers. A far greater problem is the involuntary inside job – careless piracy.

The reasons can vary and are numerous, but the reality is that some employees install or store pirated software on office computers. This can be caused by management offering inadequate resources, independent employee activities or simply personal quirks (the company has a license purchase for Adobe’s Photoshop but I’m used to using Corel’s Painter.) And while this kind of copyright infringement doesn’t sound like it should concern the company, it most definitely does. Continue reading

What Software Is Really Running on Your Office Computers? An Introduction to Business Software Management

Usually, business networks have a rather elaborate and well developed IT system put in place. With limited access, employees can log in from different workstations with the same account, so the work process is a lot more fluid and uninterrupted. On the other side, the IT department has a restricted access gate into each system from where they can limit and exert administrative authority upon a device. This also serves to limit the modification a regular employee can make to an office computer.

However, limiting what software can be installed on a computer without rendering the system ineffective is pretty much impossible

To strip a regular, non-administrative computer user of all power would shut down the activity of any business – permanently. If the IT department would have to individually handle every update for Flash, Java or for a web browser, no one would ever get anything done. Because of this, even regular user accounts have some freedom when it comes to changes being made to the system. The down side however is that this freedom enables for all kind of non-work related software to take residence on an office computer.

An office computer can easily become a nest of unproductive applications

Installed software can range from unlicensed software to personal, non-work related applications and video games. An indexing system that monitors and identifies the nature of the software running on a company’s network can prove to be a vital component that ensures a productive and result-oriented working environment.

Software managers – the viable solution

We live in an age where the combination of a computer and the Internet is the closest thing to absolute freedom that the human civilization has ever experienced. The freedom and means to access information, the freedom to manipulate, use and redistribute that information is a dream come true for any idealist. It’s an intellectual utopia.

But when this dream is confronted with reality, the truth is that uncollared freedom is chaos; it’s anarchy. And this is true especially for a business, where people have, if not a designated role, than at least a well-defined purpose and responsibility within the company.

As such, driven by self-preservation, the IT world has taken several steps to regulate both the internet and the imagination-machine. At their core, these steps are meant to monitor, index and report activity in such a way that abuse and excess can be avoided.

These steps may seem to be intrusive or shackling, a digital Big Brother hanging over your shoulder when you try to work, but in truth the concept is viable.

A software application that indexes the content of a computer is a solution that can prevent an uncontrolled, unproductive workplace environment.

The reason why this works is because power does not reside in the hands of the observer. This isn’t a dictatorship. Power is shared between the software that monitors all of the company’s workstations and the person that analyzes this information and makes the actual decisions, be it the IT Manager or even the CEO. The software can receive certain rules to automate the process and operate without a need for constant supervision, but in the end, power is still in the hands of the user. Until Skynet awakens.

Stay in touch

If you want to learn more about how to better organize your software licenses and optimize costs, stay in touch with our blog.

More news to come soon!