Remote control applications let your keyboard, mouse, and monitor operate remote computers. These applications have been around for a long time, and the venerable pcANYWHERE from Symantec was one of the first. The product's intuitive interface and enterprise-ready features show its polish.

pcANYWHERE offers six features. It lets you transform a computer into either a host computer, or a remote computer accessing a host. You can use pcANYWHERE to let a computer act as a traditional dial-up terminal emulator, or turn the computer into a gateway so that other users on the network can use its communications devices for their remote sessions. If you want to remotely control computers on your company's network, but you can connect only through Remote Access Service (RAS), pcANYWHERE's remote networking feature makes your life easier by providing a list of your RAS or Dial-Up Networking (DUN) phonebook entries. And in addition to moving files on demand between the host and remote computers, pcANYWHERE's file transfer feature lets you automate routine file transfers.

After a painless installation of pcANYWHERE, you must reboot. You then see buttons representing pcANYWHERE's six features. The two buttons that you will probably use the most are Remote Control and Be a Host PC. When you select one of these buttons, the program displays four icons that help you configure the PC for what you want to accomplish.

For example, after selecting the Remote Control button, you see three icons for predefined connections: Modem, Direct, and Network. A fourth icon, Add Remote Control Item, runs a wizard that lets you select one of 11 connection types (e.g., a modem, TCP/IP, SPX) and an optional target (phone number, host name, host address). The Add Remote Control Item wizard adds icons to the screen, which you can customize. If you do not select a target (i.e., host), the program prompts you to specify a target when you attempt to make the connection.

When you open Properties for one of the remote control icons, you can further customize how to establish the connection. You can specify a logon name and password to automate logon to the target system, run a script, or initiate an automatic file transfer.

When you select the button, Be a Host PC, you see the same Modem, Direct, and Network icons for predefined connections. The fourth icon, Add Be a Host PC Item, runs a wizard that lets you create and save a new set of host configuration parameters.

You can configure access modes and security restrictions for the Add Be a Host PC Item icon using its Properties screen. When configuring pcANYWHERE to Be a Host, select the Callers tab to choose one of three caller authentication modes: Allow full access to all callers, Specify individual caller privileges, and Use NT user privileges. Selecting Allow full access to all callers eliminates the need for users to log on when connecting to the host. Selecting Specify individual caller privileges lets you create caller IDs that are unique to the pcANYWHERE host. Selecting Use NT user privileges lets you select specific NT domain or local machine accounts or groups that you permit to access the pcANYWHERE host.

Within Properties for a user ID of any type, you can restrict the user's ability to upload and download files, stop pcANYWHERE, or restart the host system. After users connect through pcANYWHERE, they log on to the remote host using NT user IDs that contain certain rights that determine access to the host system's resources. If a user logs on to a host computer but doesn't log off and another user connects to the host, the new pcANYWHERE user inherits the access rights of the NT user ID already logged on. Users gaining the rights of other users might be a security concern in your environment. If so, you can control pcANYWHERE's behavior when a remote user disconnects from a pcANYWHERE host. You simply cancel pcANYWHERE, log off the user, and lock or restart the host system by going to the connection icon's Properties tab and selecting Settings.

The program makes a variety of encrypted-connection options available. pcANYWHERE encryption performs a simple transformation of the data stream, which provides only weak protection. But using the pcANYWHERE encryption option does hide ASCII-character strings from direct viewing by the casual packet sniffer. Symantec added symmetric and public key encryption options to this version of pcANYWHERE. With symmetric encryption, pcANYWHERE generates a key used to encrypt the data stream. When a Certificate Authority (CA) is available (a system to maintain and distribute digital certificates within an enterprise), the pcANYWHERE user can use the public key option. You find this option in the connection icon's Properties by selecting the Security Options tab and locating the Encryption level field. When you connect to a pcANYWHERE host configured for public key encryption, pcANYWHERE first authenticates the caller's certificate, and then displays the normal prompt for a caller or user ID. After pcANYWHERE grants access to the host, it uses symmetric encryption to protect the session's data stream. Symmetric encryption requires the support of the CryptoAPI in Windows NT 4.0. Windows 95 users must install Internet Explorer (IE) 3.0 or later for CryptoAPI. Public key encryption requires the CryptoAPI 2.0 available with NT 4.0 Service Pack (SP) 3, or IE 4.0.

I expect excellent technical support, so an organization pleases me when it delivers on its support promises, as Symantec did for me last summer. I installed pcANYWHERE in the Windows NT Magazine Lab to let the editorial staff access a pair of Compaq's ProLiant 4500 servers for BackOffice product fact checking. These servers are quad Pentium Pro 200 systems. A problem came up with symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) systems, and I used Symantec's Web-based technical support. Its technical support staff gave me some things to check and a workaround, and I soon had the program running. Until the time comes when we won't need a remote control product, I'll be using Symantec's pcANYWHERE.

pcANYWHERE32 8.0
Contact: Symantec * 541-334-6054
or 800-441-7234
Web: http://www.symantec.com