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Lock 'Em Out ...

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature

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Posted: 3 Nov 2004

Not too long ago there was a spirited discussion on the "human" side of technology. It's a reminder to us that while a problem may be rooted in bits and bytes, its solution may be connected to the Joes and Marys who set the data policies.

Here's the original question, followed by the discussion - (names changed :-) ... enjoy!

Is there a way to lock users out of certain computers? I have a supervisor's computer that his employees log into during the night shift and screw things up, so I would like to set it so only he and the administrators can log in. Is it possible to do that using eDirectory?

Jeff: Your best bet would be to look at the features of ZENworks - network addresses are difficult to use, especially if you use IP addresses with DHCP.

The more effective way is to deal with problems like this is to create and enforce some sort of policy regarding disabling or modifying workstation configurations. The threat of termination of employment, if it can be enforced (and that varies by locale) can be a very effective deterrent, as can the witholding of bonuses. I worked for a company once upon a time that had people who liked to fiddle with systems, but they didn't because they could lose their bonus if their systems didn't work because of fiddling with them.

Andrew: Fire one of the night shift people. Hire a replacement. Let it be known that he was fired for doing what he wasn't supposed to be doing with the boss' computer. The others will stop. If not, repeat until they do.

Even if you could keep them from logging in, you can't keep them from screwing around. If they can't be trusted to do what they're supposed to do, and not do what they're not supposed to, fire them and hire some you can trust.

Thanks for the buisiness advice but since I don't have control over the employment practices of my company and I do of the computers. I think I will stick with locking them out this way.

Michelle: While you may not have control over the employment practices, you can influence them significantly. Technical controls in any implementation are not enough - there has to be a business policy behind them, or people will ask why the technical solution was implemented.

The way to influence the business practice is to put the loss in terms the business can understand. If the night shift guys are causing the boss to not be able to do his job, quantify it and say "this person cost the company $200 in lost productivity for the boss and a further $300 in technical resource time to fix the things they did so the boss could be productive." That's a business term that accountants (and most business people) understand - lost money and cost/benefit or profit/loss arguements. That will get their attention.

Cameron: One fellow on an Exchange list I subscribe to puts it this way:

"There are seldom good technological solutions for behavorial problems."

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