Software

R-Comp releases tool to protect RISC OS computers from prying eyes

Lock down, lock all eyes out – there’s no way to pry!1.

New-ish2 from R-Comp is an application designed to lock down your RISC OS computers in a way similar to other platforms. On those platforms, it’s normal to be prompted to enter a password at start-up, and possibly when the machine has been left idle, or when you force the issue by telling it to go to sleep, etc.

The RISC OS application is called LockScreen, which currently stands at version 1.132, and it provides a means to secure your computer with a password. Once set up, the program will prompt you for that password at boot – and it can also take control of the system when the machine is left idling, or on-demand, so when you wish to start using it again that password needs to be input.

LockScreen options
LockScreen options

By default, the program will hide the contents of the screen by displaying a pleasant, scenic image – or you can add your own images, which don’t have to be either pleasant OR scenic, and LockScreen can be told to cycle through them randomly). It can also display the date and time on screen but, either way, access to the computer is blocked, and any private information is kept that way.

LockScreen er... lock screen
LockScreen er… lock screen

With the ever increasing amount of personal data held on computers – not just our own, but data belonging to other people such as contact data including email addresses and phone numbers, and potentially much more where the computer is used for business purposes, or to run clubs, etc. – it is important that data is kept away from prying eyes, and is protected to the best of your (and your software’s) abilities.

It is designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, but still be able to serve as a simple deterrent to keep out those prying eyes and prevent unauthorised access1: A guest in your home having a play with your computer that you happen to have left on and unattended, perhaps, or someone visiting your office with the same opportunity – or a computer with your customer database open on a table at a computer show (yes, I’ve seen this; many of us have, even if we haven’t realised it at the time!)

The software is priced at £19.00 including VAT, and can be purchased via !Store. It comes as a 10MB download, which is quite large for a RISC OS application, but that’s because of the default pictures supplied with it – and there are additional image packs available wheighing in at 20MB and 60MB. If you’d rather not use any images, the program will display a tiled stone wall background or alternatively, light and dark themes. RISC OS versions 4.0x, 4.39, 5.x and Six are supported on a wide range of hardware.

!ReadMe

  1. Well, it is still possible to pry to someone determined enough. R-Comp’s Andrew Rawnsley notes that the software isn’t “super-secure” in that while it uses encrypted passwords, it doesn’t actively encrypt any data – so that data is potentially accessible by other means. However, LockScreen does disable many of the operating system’s commonly known tricks to bypass such things – which during development led to R-Comp locking themselves out of computers when testing it. Oops.
  2. Version 1.00 was actually launched in June of this year – presumably to a limited audience while some issues were resolved. Version 1.13 does just that, and also gains the ability to use DPMS monitor power saving where available, even if LockScreen is acting as a screensaver – a feature that was previously only available on RISC OS Adjust.