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Jun 10 2015

Secure Your IT Environment with Workplace Protect and Workplace Manager

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Protecting valuable confidential business data and ensuring customers' as well as employees' right to privacy is among the noblest tasks assigned to IT departments of today. Coping with it, however, also is one of the toughest jobs imposed on administrators and end users alike – especially in a time where criminals as well as state agencies seek to steal info from or take over everything from single PCs to entire networks. That's why Fujitsu offers Workplace Protect and Workplace Manager, two tools that simplify taking protective measures.

The idea behind these tools was to enable organizations of any size to implement clear and consistent security policies. To achieve this, they both impose a strict regime to control access to PCs, verify and authenticate users, and effectively prevent unauthorized use. Beyond that, they provide a host of features intended to harden client computing devices and keep out potential intruders. The main difference between both programs then is in their range and scope: Workplace Protect was designed to help users protect their 'personal' Windows hardware and working environment, whereas Workplace Manager is for admins who centrally manage several hundred clients. The following is a first overview of how they work.

Workplace Protect
This tool's main task is to literally shut out unauthorized users from Windows devices, thus keeping them from doing harm. At the same time, it includes a variety of functions – such as single sign-on, encryption or backup/restore – that enhance security and usability and are not usually found in PC security suites. To render these mechanisms more effective, users can access and control all security-relevant settings via one application with a single, central management console instead of having to undergo multiple setup processes for concurring programs and ending up with fragmented or broken protection.

With access control as its most prominent function, Workplace Protect uses a process called Pre-boot Authentication to confirm a user's ID and access rights. Pre-boot Authentication is implemented at the BIOS level and uses one of these three hardware-based recognition methods offering different protection levels (from high to low): PalmSecure, classic SmartCard/PIN combinations (this latter version is called System Lock), and fingerprint readers. Additionally, user authentication may be implemented at the operating system level using any of the above-named methods or RFID cards or Face Recognition. Both authentication methods ensure that only authorized users can access confidential information. What's more, ID verification may also serve as a single sign-on process for company networks, Windows domains and/or web pages. Workplace Protect can store login details such as user names and passcodes in a password-protected, encrypted file on the hard disk (Password Safe) and additionally set up a so-called Encrypted Container, i.e. a virtual drive for storing critical, classified information; by default, both encryption processes use 256-bit AES algorithms that are currently considered unbreakable. Other key features include Easy Restore, an option to replicate the contents of a hard disk to an encrypted, password-protected file on a network server and restore them from there (additional license needed); the ability to shut down the system as soon as a SmartCard is removed; and the use of Window's roaming profiles to adequately support 'road warriors' and other mobile staff.

Workplace Protect easily and completely integrates into Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 environments. The tool is available free of charge in 32-bit and 64-bit editions for all new FUJITSU Client Computing Devices (ESPRIMO PCs, CELSIUS workstations, FUTRO Thin Clients, LIFEBOOK and CELSIUS notebooks, and STYLISTIC tablets). Workplace Protect may either be installed from the DUUDVD or downloaded from our support page.

Workplace Manager
While Workplace Protect works perfectly well on single devices, it's not exactly the tool of choice for administrators looking for a tool to monitor and manage larger user groups or client environments. That's where Workplace Manager comes in – a tool designed to provide the same degree of protection, only at a higher level. To this end, Workplace Manager enables admins to centrally and remotely control the security settings of all devices within small and midsize Windows domains spanning up to 1,500 users. With its intuitive GUI, comprehensive automation options, and functions that allow for importing device and user IDs from Active Directory and storing relevant settings in a MS SQL database, it adds all the capabilities needed to facilitate smooth, fast and centralized implementation of company-wide or site-specific security policies, including configuration and/or management of the following functions

  • Management of allowed authentication methods (PalmSecure, SmartCard, etc.)
  • Pre-boot Authentication
  • Password Safe and Encrypted Container
  • Auto BIOS Update, Easy Protection, and Easy Restore (requires additional license for Workplace Embedded Tools)
  • Job deployment to manage security settings; job queuing for clients that are powered down or out of reach; reporting on finished jobs
  • Deployment of BIOS and hard disk drive passwords

Unlike Workplace Protect, Workplace Manager requires a software license for each managed device that must be ordered via the price list or online. Three free licenses are included for testing purposes.

Conclusion
Fujitsu's security solutions Workplace Protect and Workplace Manager help IT departments and end users to swiftly set up and thoroughly control secure working environments on Windows devices or across Windows domains, regardless of the hardware platform(s) at hand. Available free of charge or for a moderate license fee, they ensure optimum alignment and utilization of a vast array of security functions that are constantly updated and expanded: the next series of improvements, which is due out in this summer, will include an option for central BIOS management.

Thomas Schkoda

 

About the Author:

Thomas Schkoda

Senior Product Manager Security & Manageability, Fujitsu

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Comments on this article

Thinking about Win10 features
June 15, 2015, 01:47 wdumke
How will Fujitsu´s security features fare in comparison to Microsoft´s Win10 features? Could you please comment on the differences (or similarities)? Thanks.
Re: Thinking about Win10 features
July 27, 2015, 01:19 tbckr ( 6 )
Hi wdumke, Sorry for the late reply, but it took a little longer to get an official reply on this one, so here it is: Fujitsu´s Workplace Protect and Workplace Manager offer a broad feature set like Windows Authentication, BIOS security or encrypted container. Some of the authentication methods like face recognition or fingerprint will be supported with Windows Hello in Windows 10 directly, but the authentication with PalmSceure won’t be supported with the first release of Windows 10. Our coming versions of Workplace Protect and Workplace Manager will support the new operating systems Windows 10. On the other hand Workplace Protect and Workplace Manager is still needed for Windows 7 and 8.1 users.
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