FutureSoft DynaComm PointGuard review

Price when reviewed

As networked systems and applications become more capable, the opportunities for misuse become more widespread. Not only is corporate data valuable, but the computing power available in even a modest network is considerable and a target for criminal activity. Spyware and unauthorised programs, endpoint security, USB devices and internet access can all create potential security holes.

FutureSoft DynaComm PointGuard review

FutureSoft’s DynaComm PointGuard aims to provide endpoint security management for Windows networks. It offers file and Registry scans to detect and remove unauthorised applications and spyware, and provides access control mechanisms to protect sensitive data. Files are scanned for content as well as by name or extension. Removable peripheral devices such as a CD-ROM drive or a USB port can be strictly controlled by location and user. Applications can be controlled to restrict their use to authorised users. Instant messaging clients are a potential source of problems, and the system provides scans to detect, control and block unauthorised clients. Internet access management is comprehensive, detecting and restricting a number of facilities such as file downloading, access to host files and the installation of ActiveX controls. However, it assumes Internet Explorer is the only browser used on the network, which may not be the case.

The software uses a central admin server to control and manage software agents installed on each monitored system. The agents can be deployed automatically across the network, using information from Active Directory to locate and identify target systems. Since the software agents function independently, they can apply and enforce security policies even when a system isn’t permanently connected to the network. Although older Windows systems such as NT4 and Windows 98 are also supported, the agent software can’t be deployed to them, and this means some facilities such as spyware scanning aren’t available. The operation is slightly different as well, with the server carrying out all the scanning and logging processing itself. Clients on later systems can run the scans themselves, returning the results to the server for logging, which has obvious performance benefits.

The administrative interface is easy to navigate and offers a number of useful drill-down features. Each line in a detail display turns out to be a hot link, so you can click on an individual line and perform an action on the item, perhaps to delete a Registry key or executable file, or to place them elsewhere.

The system offers comprehensive reporting facilities, with many predefined categories and report types, and new report types can be created as needed. The data gathered by the comprehensive control mechanisms provides inventory reporting that can be used to monitor application usage. Such information is useful in determining future licensing requirements and upgrades.

DynaComm PointGuard can protect networks and data from a variety of threats and is flexible enough to cope with new ones as they arise. It would be particularly effective when combined with other security systems such as password vaults and hardware encryption devices.

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