In the heyday of Windows 95, there had been a running joke of its security features (or lack thereof). Multi-user account management was nothing more than creating profiles for storing desktop settings and documents. The request to enter a username and password at the Enter Network Password dialog box on startup was often mistakenly seen by less savvy users as a form of security, not realising it’s just credentials for accessing network shares in a workgroup.
Originally retailing for $90 US, Norton released Your Eyes Only (YEO) to up the ante in this regard. Whilst it didn’t overcome Windows’ limitations entirely it added an additional layer as a deterrent. Its main purpose was to keep prying eyes away from files you want private. A Windows 95-based PC with 8 MB RAM were the requirements, with 16 MB recommended.
Commencing installation a brief antivirus scan is performed hinting to go purchase other Norton products (i.e. AntiVirus and Utilities). You’ll be prompted for a new username and password for the purpose of encrypting files, and booting up the PC if desired with the use of the BootLock feature. Enabling BootLock modifies the master boot record (MBR) resulting in a lock down of the hard disk. To counteract, an Emergency UnLock Disk is able to be created in case problematic issues occur later down the track. Once the setup program closes, your PC will restart and YEO comes into effect.
As Windows 95 comes to the desktop, a YEO login dialog box appears requesting the username and password created during installation. Someone not knowing these details won’t stop them from using Windows, though won’t have the ability to create or access encrypted files. When such details are entered, the YEO’s Control Center runs in the background.
Encrypting files and folders is rather simple; right-click the desired file or several at once and select from the YEO sub-menu. A dialog box appears to modify users of who can access the file and the encryption algorithm. 40-bit RC4 and DEC algorithms were provided being the international version tested – the US version allowed 128-bit. Also I was only allowed up to 512-bit encryption keys, whilst the default with the US version was 768-bit with options up to 2,048. When encrypted, the icon changes to a padlock as the file itself is changed over to the YNC file extension. Double-clicking the file Windows won’t recognise which program to open with, until you manually decrypt the file.
For files that are regularly accessed, incorporating a SmartLock folder is more practical. To implement, it’s following the same process as selecting a file. With a SmartLock folder, files placed within will automatically encrypt and decrypt as needed. The timing of when to automatically encrypt the file again can be set via the Control Center. Note an encrypted file can be deleted, though a folder won’t. Emptying the Recycle Bin an error is produced.
The Control Center itself provides a number of options concerning user and password management. Passwords can be configured to enforce minimum character length and frequency to change for instance. A feature known as ScreenLock can activate a password protected screensaver. Apart from tying in with YEO’s user password, the main advantage over the standard Windows settings is having the hotkey option to immediately lock the PC.
YEO overrides the standard Windows settings on screensavers such as the timer. However if a password has been activated in Windows’ Display Properties, you may find yourself entering passwords twice to unlock, one from Windows, followed by a prompt from YEO.
A little program, Audit Viewer, is included to assist with determining activities that have occurred over a period of time. Unlike Windows NT, 95 wasn’t provided with Event Viewer so this somewhat compensates for that. The recorded activities can be exported out to a CSV file.
Windows NT wasn’t officially supported. BootLock became problematic if you dual booted between Windows 95 and non DOS-based systems such as NT or OS/2 rendering the PC unusable. There was also the issue that you weren’t able to decrypt your files under NT. But overall the application was well regarded for its seamless integration into Windows 95 and processing speed compared to competing products.