Using Windows 7 security features and data backup

Solutions providers will find that Windows 7 security features have improved, and choosing whether to back up customers' data depends on how their desktops have been implemented.

Windows 7 security features have greatly improved over Microsoft's previous operating systems. Solutions providers will find that Windows 7 offers a variety of new options and features for both backup and security.

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In this interview with SearchSystemsChannel.com Assistant Editor Pat Ouellette, Windows 7 migration experts Stephen Kolbe and Thomas Nieto of Analysis Enterprise Inc. examine the prerequisites that solutions providers need to be aware of prior to making the decision to back up a customer's data. Kolbe and Nieto also explain the key areas in which Windows 7 security features have improved over Windows Vista, including hard drive and software encryption and remote access.

Pat Ouellette: How important is it for solutions providers to back up customer's data before a Windows 7 migration?

Stephen Kolbe: If the implementation of the desktop is nonstandard, we say do it, because if you use a Kronos host, a third-party imaging tool and a USB hard drive, it takes 10 to 15 minutes. That's all the time it adds.

It's a great insurance policy in case the upgrade does not go optimally.

If the implementation is standard -- you have standard software and not a lot of data sitting on the desktop -- then we say just go and do it without backup. If something happens, you can just unseat that user and move them somewhere else. You can move a desktop in for that person, no big deal.

If you have a standard desktop with important user data, just copy the data off to a network share before you engage in the Windows 7 deployment. Migrate all of that data into one central location so that it's not an issue.

Ouellette: What are the most important Windows 7 security features that solutions providers can point out to customers who are considering a Windows 7 migration?

Kolbe: As far as Windows 7 security features, I love the hard drive and software encryption, the BitLocker technology. BitLocker prevents you from removing the hard drive from the computer. Using an encrypted file with trusted platform module [TPM] prevents someone from using a user's data without being logged into that user's account.

Those two technologies are great, particularly for mobile desktops where there's sensitive data.

Thomas Nieto: A lot of the big changes in Windows 7 security features come in terms of remote access to the network and being able to secure the access to a customer's corporate network for a laptop, for instance. Microsoft changed the ability for solutions providers to use BitLocker encryption services. Microsoft sets the security and encryption settings very high for remote access.

By default, all the new secure features are enabled for remote access. The User Account Control [UAC] has been fixed in Windows 7, in that it prompts users in the correct manner.

That was also introduced in Windows Vista, but it didn't alert you the way people expected it to, and everybody got mad and turned it off. And they also disabled UAC. Now, you have the ability to turn down the alert settings without removing the functionality of UAC, which means it's a component that stays and will actually work well. BitLocker also works on flash drives. If customers have a flash drive or USB drive that they travel with, they can have encryption software built in as long as they have the right version of Windows with BitLocker.

Solutions providers can recommend to their customers that any drive that's connected needs to use BitLocker.

Kolbe: Going back to the remote access, one of the things that we see as a trend is computing as a service, telework or working in the cloud. That is a tremendous business development opportunity just waiting to happen and is really hot right now. We're seeing that 85 cents out of every net new dollar that we're receiving now comes from some sort of cloud or Platform as a Service, telework, remote access functionality with customers. It's huge. Solutions providers should be looking at that.

About the experts
Steve Kolbe founded Analysis Enterprise Inc. in 1995 and is the president and CEO of the company. Kolbe has received awards such as Smart CEO's 2008 Smart 100, 2009 Circle of Excellence Winner for excellence in customer service and the Entrepreneur's Exchange 2010 Entrepreneur of The Year. He has also served as an advisor on various technology, educational and local boards and committees, including The Baltimore County Executive Advisory Board for Higher Education.

Thomas Nieto is a Microsoft accredited professional and the Director of Strategic Consulting Services for Analysis Enterprise Inc. Nieto presently oversees strategic planning for clients and directs a team of consultants engaged in projects, project management and consulting services. Prior to his present role, Nieto was the IT Director for Santé Group.

This was first published in March 2010

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