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Windows 7: Password Protected auto shutdown & restart

26 Oct 2013   #1

W7 64bits
 
 
Password Protected auto shutdown & restart

Hello.. Does anyone know about settings iin group policies, or about a program (free or not - pls give both) that can be installed on a pc (XP or Windows 7) , run silent or hidden, that would turn off a pc at a scheduled date (1 week, 15 days, 1 month down the road) and that would be asking for a password to restart (preferably the one set in that program, not the administrative one)? To help you understand why I am looking for such: I provide full computer systems to retail stores, ask for 50% down and the rest when all is set up and running. I want to prevent being in a situation where the customer would not pay me the remaining balance or not pay as agreed or in full. I could install such program ahead of time and configure it to shut down pc few days after the scheduled payment day, and they would have to call us to restart it since they wouldn't know the passwor.... After payment is received, all I have to do is uninstall the program. Thank you.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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26 Oct 2013   #2

W7 Pro SP1 64bit
 
 

A couple of things come to mind:

It would be best to tell the customer (in writing) that this is going to happen and have them sign/initial that they did indeed notice that part of the agreement. Also have the agreement state that you are not liable for any losses suffered by the retailer due to the locked computer. Such a statement in the agreement might prevent a small claims court proceeding.

However, even with that agreement in place, you might find that it does not remove your liability for their loss of income. If a court deems this "time bomb" or "software lock" unreasonable for the service that you provide, then you could be held liable. The search/link in the previous sentence returns links that deal primarily with selling software, but I could see how time bombs could be a problem for complete computer systems too. Among those search returns, you will see that several entities prohibit such code in purchased software.

If your lawyer says to go for it, then I would start with something simple: setup a scheduled task that shuts the computer down every minute or two. Such a task can be triggered at log on and set not to trigger until after a certain date. I would not give the customer admin rights until you are paid in full.

Let us know if you need help setting up such a scheduled task... or if you want something that is harder to defeat.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2013   #3

W7 64bits
 
 

You raised a very good point.. Legal issues are definitely to be considered... Here is what we do: We make the customer sign a terms and conditions stating that the software will not be activated permanently until full payment has been received... so technically, they are already warned that the software will stop unless it is activated permanently. We tell them to pay with cashier's check so the software can be immediately activated as permanent. But there is no "temporary" activation per sť. We just turn off the software remotely. However, if the customer turn the Internet off, then we cannot access the pc any longer. That is why I would like to have an option that would cover this eventuality.. We never had a problem before since all customers have paid us so far... but I like to be prepared and would install such feature on every pc from now on.... I will also modify our terms and conditions to made them aware
of and sign on what would happen if no payment is made. Is it possible to create a task that would run a hidden batch file, that would stop the computer or lock it, on a specific day and time after the day we are supposed to get payment? ...task that would be password protected so no one can remove it or stop it? Anyway, if we get payment, then there is no problem and we just access the pc and remove the task... but if they won't pay then the task will start.... when this happens then they will know why because of what they were told from the beginning... Please help with this task and give example of something harder to defeat... unless there is a separate program that does that...Thank you.
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27 Oct 2013   #4

Windows 7 Pro x64 SP1
 
 

obelix777, welcome to the windows 7 forum.

One option that you could take would be that your program (I assume you are selling them a program for their business), could have a timer in the program that could only be turned off with a special password and when they pay, they get the password.

some of the Trial versions of programs allow you to use the program for some specific time and then won't work with out registering.

Just an idea.

Rich
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2013   #5

W7 64bits
 
 

Good idea... unfortunately, I am just a reseller.. so unless they come up with the feature themselves, for everyone to use, they won't rewrite the software for me... hence why I am looking for another solution. Actually, I think that they can "time" their license file, but I doubt they would... I will ask though...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
27 Oct 2013   #6

W7 Pro SP1 64bit
 
 

Since I don't have any experience using a 3rd party app for the task at hand, I don't want to suggest that route. Other forum members might help you with that.

I need more info before I can answer your questions (quoted below).

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by obelix777 View Post
..........Is it possible to create a task that would run a hidden batch file, that would stop the computer or lock it, on a specific day and time after the day we are supposed to get payment? ...task that would be password protected so no one can remove it or stop it?.............
Can the end user operate the computer/software that you resell using a standard Windows account?
If yes, do they need to know the password of an admin account?
Or can that password be withheld until you are paid in full?

If you create an admin account just for your use...
...then place the batch file on that account's desktop
...Windows should protect the batch file from a standard user.
Scheduled tasks are already protected from standard users*.
*users that do not know the password to an admin account

The scheduled task (if setup to run as the admin account mentioned above) would run silently. A user logged on to a standard account would not see a command prompt window when the batch file runs.

One scheduled task can be set to run at a specific date in the future.
Another scheduled task can be set to run at every log on after that date.

The level of protection that these scheduled tasks affords you - depends on the level of effort that you want to put into it. You could add a password to the built in administrator account and encrypt the hard drive to prevent the user from blanking out the password of an admin account. But encryption might be taking things too far.

If you opt to play with this - I suggest that you use a virtual machine.

What RAT are you using to remote into these computers?
Does it have a VPN also?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Oct 2013   #7

W7 64bits
 
 

This is what I'm gonna do. The pc is running on a username with admin rights of which they have the psw.... I will create the task under Administrator which has a different psw only known by me, then hide the Administrator from showing at Login. I will make the pc shutdown every hour starting a certain date. The question is: can a user with administrative rights stop the task with their own psw? If not then it's perfect...
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Oct 2013   #8

W7 Pro SP1 64bit
 
 

It is probably not best that this type of computer run from day to day using an admin account, but I'll not try and convince you otherwise (unless you just want to discuss it). Let's at least hope that they will keep the User Access Control at the default setting.

As far as I know, any admin account can change/disable/delete any scheduled task, so my "scheduled task method" might not work for you. And any admin account can change the password on your admin account or delete the account entirely.

And anyone with physical access to a computer can blank out the password of any Windows account by booting to a CD or USB that is made to remove passwords (see option 5). Others prefer this method. And there are still other ways to get in. To prevent this, people use total hard drive encryption. I don't think that it is worth going to that extreme, but I'll let you be the judge of that.

My "scheduled task method" depends on the user being a standard type account. It also is a "middle of the road" solution that strikes a balance between difficulty of setting up and difficultly in defeating. If the user is a standard user, then the method that I suggested works really well. If you went to the extreme of encrypting the drive, then it would be very hard for a user to defeat. You can even set the computer up to only log on to one account.. but that is useless if it is an admin account.
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