Some of us are lucky enough to work in small companies with lots of freedom. A blessed few of us even get to work from home in our pajamas. Point being, we’re free to install and run which ever programs we want, and protecting ourselves from the perils of the Internet is up to how careful we are on what we clock and how up to date our anti-virus software is. (Or we just run Macs.)
Most people though work for companies or use computers at schools and libraries that like to (rightfully) protect their electronic and intellectual property, and tend to engage in IT lockdown. How does this happen? You might be surprised at how it all works.
To start with, Windows comes with many IT solutions baked in. We recall that our high school disabled the “Properties” menu on the background after one too many phallic backgrounds made in MS Paint. Some companies go so far as to lock you into a single program and disable your right-click because you supposedly shouldn’t need it. This started with computer controlled cash registers at retail stores, but has grown to a surprising other collection of computers, such as the ones that customer service representative run at the phone banks.
Windows also comes with the ability to prevent installers (.msi files) from running. This works to keep employees from wasting all day on AIM, but not all programs come with installers”"in fact, most malicious software comes in the form of the simple executable (.exe files). This is where programs like Faronics Anti-Executable come in. The program, which runs in the background, prevents all executables that aren’t on a whitelist from running. This drastic but highly effective method prevents any program that is explicitly allowed to run from doing so.
This stops everything from e-mail embedded Trojans to Outlook hijacking malware from running. The program even comes with a one-click set up solution that sets up the whitelist according the programs running on a sample computer”"useful as long as you’re absolutely sure that computer has never been compromised.
Of course, the best thing to arm yourself with is a good education. Don’t open attachments or click on links from people you don’t know. Be careful when installing anything, especially when you’re at work. Don’t attempt to circumvent the IT lockdown you might be under at work either. At best, you might get a virus; at worst, you could lose your job”"probably not worth installing TweetDeck over. So use your best judgment, and wear”"er, um, install, your protection.