Get an overall view of your NT Security

Getting a handle on your Windows NT security can be tough without the proper tools. You could use an NT security scanner, such as Palo Verde Software's NspecTre, but this tool doesn't always present information that's useful to the layperson. The company addresses this problem with NspecTreScope, which presents the complex security settings of an NT system in an easy-to-read format. The product fits well into any size network that needs a managerial-type security reporting system.

NspecTreScope collects user and object security information, compares it against Microsoft's recommended NT security configuration, and presents its findings in an easy-to-read report. The report consists of summary tables, pie charts, and supporting detail bar graphs. You can also review these reports with NspecTre.

NspecTreScope reports information on a per-machine basis in three common areas within NT: user management, object management, and password testing. The software summarizes each area tested at the top of the report with a general rating of poor, fair, good, or excellent. You can customize the reports to include or exclude permissions settings for directories, files, shares, and Registry keys. Further down the report, you'll find percentage ratings and more details of these areas represented by pie charts, bar graphs, and text-based memos. The software uses an intuitive color scheme with shades of green, yellow, and red to show the severity of the risks it identifies.

I installed NspecTreScope on an NT Workstation 4.0 machine with Service Pack 4 (SP4). Installing the product was easy. I had only to select a directory for the software to reside in. After I loaded the software, I ran a security analysis against some of my test network's NT-based systems.

Running an analysis report was also simple. I created a new scope profile, selected the machine to run a scan against, and selected the object groups to scan. The amount of time the software took to conduct a scan depended on the groups I selected to scan and the objects within those groups. For example, scanning a basic installation of NT Workstation 4.0 took less than 3 minutes, but scanning NT Server 4.0 loaded with Microsoft Site Server 3.0 Commerce Edition took about 8 minutes.

When the scanning process finished, NspecTreScope automatically launched the report viewer, which let me easily review the findings, save the report to disk for future use, or print the report with a standard printer. The online Help was adequate to help me understand the reports. Screen 1 shows my network report with the numbers 0-20 representing the product's grading scale. With this report, I saw that I had my user accounts fairly well configured, which minimizes the security risk to the overall network environment.

You can also run NspecTreScope from the command line. The company makes various configuration settings available through command-line switches. With this functionality, I could set the product to conduct regularly scheduled analyses to minimize the risk of an administrator overlooking such an important task.

Overall, I found NspecTreScope to be a great companion to NspecTre. The user interface (UI) is easy to use and intuitive. With the addition of NspecTreScope to its product line, Palo Verde Software can better compete with other well-rounded security assessment tools, such as Internet Security Systems' Internet Scanner. If you already use NspecTre, you'll find NspecTreScope a useful and significant addition. If you aren't using either of these security assessment tools, give them a close look—you'll find their functionality and price attractive.

NspecTreScope
Contact: Palo Verde Software * 520-795-2250
Web: http://www.ntspectre.com
Price: $1495 for a single-machine license
System Requirements: Windows NT 3.51 or 4.0