Lock down your desktop with WinGuard 4.0

Microsoft has improved security settings in Windows XP, but you can do more to lock down the desktop using WinGuard 4.0. It can even lock down older Windows versions, including Windows 98. Here's how it works.

Security has become a huge issue in today's society. Microsoft has done a pretty good job of adding security features to Windows XP, but this OS can be made even more secure. WinGuard 4.0 can help tighten security on Windows XP, as well as add layers of protection to older operating systems such as Windows 98 (which is basically wide open) and Windows 2000 Professional.

What's WinGuard 4.0?

WinGuard 4.0 is a free piece of software produced by WGSoft. It protects your programs, files, folders, and even Web pages. It also allows you to simply encrypt and password-protect your personal files as well as block software installations and Internet access.

You can obtain the product directly from the WinGuard Web page. WinGuard works with Windows XP/2000/Me/9.x and comes in two versions: Basic and Premium. The Basic version is free and gives you the ability to:

  • Lock up to 25 common applications.
  • Use a password timer to set how long users have to enter the password to access a locked application.
  • Hide access to the WinGuard configuration tool.
  • Lock Windows features such as The Desktop and My Computer.
  • Lock files and folders.

The Premium version includes all of those features as well as preconfigured locking for a total of 50 applications; the ability to create locks for your own applications; and the ability to prevent users from installing software on their workstations. Pricing information for the Premium version is available at WGSoft's Online store.

For the purposes of this article, we'll just look at the Basic version. The file, wgpro.exe, is only 1.56 MB, so it will download pretty quickly. After you download the file, run it. WinGuard installs just like any other Windows-based software you've ever used. Just follow the on-screen wizard and you're done.

Using WinGuard Pro

To start WinGuard, click Start | Programs | WinGuard Pro 4.0 | Setup Tool. You'll then see the Key icon appear on your taskbar, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

WinGuard runs from your taskbar.

To configure WinGuard, right-click the Key icon and select Setup. You'll then see the screen shown in Figure B.

Figure B

You customize WinGuard's features here.

By clicking the links in the Control Panel blocks, you can customize how WinGuard secures your system. For example, let's say that you want to password-protect access to Windows Media Player. Click the Program Protection link in Control Panel, select Windows Media Player, and click Apply.

When users try to access the protected file, a pop-up similar to the one in Figure C will appear by the taskbar. The user can access the program by clicking the pop-up and supplying the proper password. The pop-up will disappear in the amount of time you specify in the Password Timer box in the Settings area in Control Panel. You can also change the default passwords in Control Panel.

Figure C

Users can't access programs without the proper password.

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