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Non Restrictive Technology for Computing Environments: 

 

Non-Restrictive technology is used in many computing environments - however, it is most often seen in publicly accessible computing domains. Non Restrictive technology is often reffered to as the traditional Reboot-to-Restore concept.   This concept has also been referred to a hard drive write protection.

 

As technologies have advanced the techniques for implementing a Non Restrictive computing environments have grown beyond the simple Restoring on Reboot process.  More progressive techniques such as sector mapping technology have enhanced the administration of enterprise workstations.

 

Todays Public Access Computer Environment
 
Schools systems worldwide recognize the neccesity of computing in the educational environment.  Educating computer skills is vital for today’s students, but there are many issues that school systems must address regarding their management of computer labs. Furthermore, there are two district schools of thought for how student PC's should be managed:
 
  1. Desktop Security (Lockdown) - Restricting user access to certain aspects of Windows
  2. Non-Restrictive approach - essentially Write-protecting the hard drive

 

 
External Threats
 
Alongside viruses,  the biggest threats to computer users on computers today is malware. It can hijack your browser, redirect your search attempts, serve up nasty pop-up ads, track what web sites you visit, and mess up your system settings. Malware programs are usually poorly-programmed and can cause your computer to become slow and unstable in addition to all the other havoc they bring.
 
Most malware will reinstall themselves even after you think you have removed them, or hide themselves deep within Windows, making them very difficult to clean. This article is intended to guide you with basic preventive measures. Some examples of typical malware are:

Adware

Hijackers

Dialers

Webhancer

Spyware

Toolbars

GAIN

ISTbar

 

 

 

The Non-Restrictive computing environment

 

Internal Threats and Inadvertant User Errors

 

 

Students today are probably more computer and internet savvy than thier teachers and sometimes even their IT co-ordinators. They pose an aptitude to download and install sophisticated applications such as P2 P sharing, social media keyloggers, and malware that directly effect thier shared workstations. Unsuspecting users can inadvertantly cause severe changes to a PC's operating systems and configurations.
 
 
The IT Administrator
 
IT administrators are continually playing a cat and mouse game with their student users. They are always trying to stay one step ahead of their users in trying to more effectively manage their public access computer systems.  Unfortunately, the  ratio of IT support staff to workstations is less than 1 support person for upto 400 shared computing devices.  Traditionally their time would be consumed by constantly re-imaging computers in order to keep them up and running. 
 
 
Traditional Approach: Lockdown with GPO's and Desktop Security
 
In the late 90's most IT staff would prefer to lock down their workstations using Windows policies or using GUI applications that simplify desktop security such as FoolProof software.  This technique was designed to  to prevent users from damaging the PC's by only allowing them to only use the PC's for certain tasks.  Thus restricting the access to all windows functionality. 
 
 
Disadvantages Of The Lock Down Approach
 
Locking down or restricting PC access is like putting blinders on a horse in the hope that the thourghbred continues to travel in a straight line and does not go off track.  By limiting the functionality of windows, the user can not be effectively learn how to actually use the computer.  Hence the teaching and learning process is one directional.