Wednesday, August 1, 2012

InstallGuard: Monitor and Block Software Installation

If you have a family PC that everyone uses and it’s your responsibility to keep it up and running, then you have to restrict the users from installing dubious programs, bloatware and unwarranted software. Your family members who aren’t familiar with the Internet can unknowingly download malicious programs and end up installing spyware, toolbars, tons of icons and other general crap bundled with programs from shady developers. As you may have previously experienced, verbally warning your family never works. You need to actively prevent them from installing software. InstallGuard allows you to do that.

InstallGuard is a program that runs in the background and silently guards the computer from unauthorized software installation. The program blocks all common software installers from running including Microsoft Installer, InstallShield and other commercial installers. You, as an administrator, can also block custom processes and executable files from being executed on the system to prevent running of portable software. This lets you block all programs including those that are already installed on the system such as browsers, toolbars, chatting software, games or other potentially malicious or unauthorized software.

installguard

By default, InstallGuard silently blocks any attempt to install new programs without warning or prompts. A user who is unaware that InstallGuard is running might think that the program installer is corrupt or they didn’t properly click on the installer file, and therefore might attempt to do so several times. To avoid unnecessary troubles you should enable showing of Alerts to the user when an application is blocked.

installguard2

From InstallGuard’s configuration window you can see which applications where blocked and at what time. The log file only shows the file name of the application blocked and not the full path, so it is not very helpful. For example, a log file entry might say “setup.exe” blocked which means some program installation was prevented but the identity of the program is a mystery.

InstallGuard also takes periodic snapshots of the list of installed programs and saves the list as a simple text or CSV file. By comparing snapshots taken at different times you can see if any new programs were installed.

InstallGuard isn’t meant to be a stealth program since the program icon is easily visible on the notification area. But only the administrator can open or close the program as it is password protected. Unfortunately, the protection is easy to bypass – simply kill the program using the task manager. Apparently, you can’t use this program in a corporate environment or generally, on smart people. If you believe you can fool your folks, go ahead, install this. Anything that can save you from spending hours cleaning up junk from your computer is good.

7 comments:

  1. Interesting... Would this also do duty as a antivirus measure, similar to a software restriction policy?

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  2. No. It can't prevent execution of programs other than the ones you specifically instruct the program to. Only software installers are blocked.

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  3. Thanks for your reply, Kaushik. That's a shame... I've been looking for something that would work like that for ages; sort of a super simple whitelisting app that would take some of the headache out of setting up restriction policies. I don't suppose you know of anything that might fit the bill?

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  4. None that I'm aware of. I'll have to look around.

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  5. Does it work with Actual Installer- http://www.actualinstaller.com ??

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  6. @Codex: Don't know. I haven't tested it against every software installer.

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  7. You can stop it from task manager. what to do to prevent this possibility?

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