Download Predator – Lock Your PC with a USB Key

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We’ve all heard it – “can I use your PC for just a minute?” My answer to this seemingly innocent question is always a resounding “NO”, usually followed by “not a chance”, “you must be kidding” ………. .

Sounds unreasonable, right? Well, it might sound unreasonable, but is it really?

I spend weeks, tweaking and massaging my PCs so that I get just the kind of response I need, and I’ve learned the hard way that some, or all, of what I’ve done, can be undone – by a ham-fisted “guest”.

As well, since my PCs, just like yours I suspect, contain personal and confidential information, I have no intention of allowing unauthorized access either accidentally, or by design.

Until recently, I’ve used the old Windows standby – Windows Key + L, to lock my PC. That is, until I came across a freeware application, Predator (last update October 31, 2009), which locks a PC, even if the Windows session is still open.

Fast facts:

Insert the USB drive.

Run Predator (autostart with Windows is possible),

When you’re away from your PC, you simply remove the USB drive.

Once removed, the keyboard and mouse are disabled and the screen darkens.

When you return to your PC, insert the USB flash.

The keyboard and mouse are immediately released, and the display is restored.

You can protect several PCs with the same USB flash drive, e.g. your home and office computers.

What really convinced me to use this neat tool are the advanced security features which are included in Predator.

Security features:

Records all security-related events in a log file: start, alarms, stop. By reading this log, you will know if intruders have tried to use your computer while you have been away.

Frequently changes the security codes recorded on your USB drive. If an intruder manages to copy your stick, this copy will not work because the codes on your own stick will have changed in the meantime.

Disables the Windows task manager when you unplug the USB drive. Nobody can stop it with Ctrl-Alt-Del.

Lets you regain control of your computer if you lose your stick: when you start the software for the first time, you set a password that will unlock your session if your USB drive is not available.

Can sound an audible alarm if somebody enters an invalid password.

Running Predator for the first time:

Launch the software via the Start Menu / All Programs / Predator item or via the Predator icon on the Desktop

A dialog box will ask you to enter a password and to prepare a USB flash drive:

Insert your USB drive and click OK to continue.

Note: the current contents of your flash drive will be unchanged by this operation. Files on your USB drive will not be deleted nor modified in any way.

You will then see the Preferences window:

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Type the password of your choice in the “New Password” field. You will use it to unlock your session if you lose your USB key.

You must enter at least 6 characters, letters, figures or signs. The password is case sensitive (uppercase and lowercase letters are different).

Check that the drive letter displayed under “USB key drive” actually matches your flash drive or choose the correct letter from the dropdown list.

Click the “Create key” button

Finally, click “Ok”

If you have a need to lock your PC when you are away from your desk, this free application will give you that sense of security you have been looking for.

System requirements: Windows XP, Windows Vista (32 and 64 bit), Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit).

Download at: Developers site

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18 Comments

Filed under Don't Get Hacked, downloads, flash drive, Freeware, Software, System Security, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

18 responses to “Download Predator – Lock Your PC with a USB Key

  1. Max

    I always forget to press “Windows Key + L” when I’m leaving my office, so your sollution perhaps would be something for me…but I’ll sure also forget to remove the USB-Drive 😉

    I would prefer something wireless, like a bluetooth key; something I can keep in my pocket and as soon as I leave my desk it locks my PC.

    • Bill Mullins

      I like your idea of a Bluetooth device Max, that automatically engages the lock if you move “X” meters from your machine. A very cool idea! Will have to Google that.

      Bill

  2. Ranjan

    Indeed, A very nice utility… Although, the Win key+L with a password enough for me…
    Just a question regarding it Bill, if We’ve lost that USB key, then how will we be able to unlock our pc with the preset password since the mouse and keyboard have been disabled…? How will we input it…?

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Ranjan,

      According to the User’s Guide: – *How to uninstall PREDATOR if it autostarts with Windows and my USB stick is lost/not working ?*

      PREDATOR in this case will prevent you from accessing the Windows Control Pannel to uninstall the program.

      – Restart Windows in safe mode (press F8 during boot): PREDATOR will not be launched automatically – Open a DOS command window from the Start Menu / Programs / Accessories / Command Prompt – type (with the double quotes): “C:\Program Files\Predator\predator.exe” /D (this command will prevent PREDATOR from starting with Windows, and will restore the Task Manager option in the Ctrl-Alt-Del menu) – Close the command window – Restart Windows normally: PREDATOR will not be launched automatically – Check that Ctrl-Alt-Del now shows the Task Manager option – Uninstall PREDATOR

      Bill

  3. Liam O' Moulain

    Hi Bill,

    My kids have their own computer and so they are not allowed on mine. This sounds better than the L key so I’ll give this a try.

    Thanks.

    Liam

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Liam,

      If you have a chance later, I’d like to hear your assessment of this app.

      Thanks. Bill

  4. Ranjan

    Or the ‘Safe mode with command prompt’ will also do the job.. Thanks Bill.

  5. Ranjan

    My pleasure Bill… 🙂

  6. Ranjan

    Bluetooth lock system… hmmm… I see one problem/vulnerability in this.
    In case of usb drive, it cant be hacked until you lose it as even if someone tries to copy your usb to unlock the pc, it wont work since the codings will have already been changed..
    But in case of bluetooth, its very much possible. Since all wireless devices use radio waves to communicate, one can easily unlock it with a same bluetooth device operating on the same frequency.. Afterall, Hackers are always one step ahead. 😛
    Just my thought…

  7. Ohh this is really very helpful solution for me. This is will help me to safe my Laptop from childs

  8. Max

    Well I wouldn’t use such a bluetooth PC-lock in a high security area, but in my office it would be safe enough. I just don’t want my boss or supervisor sneaking to my PC and looking to my open firefox tabs or private documents 😉

    And I think my colleagues would get a bit suspicious, if someone foreign, like a hacker, stands in front of my desk and tries to crack my BT-lock ^^

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Max,

      “I think my colleagues would get a bit suspicious”, was my immediate reaction as well.

      Bill

  9. Matt

    Hey guys I was wondering if there is a x64 bit version that is also free because when I download it, the x64 bit version is a 20 day trial

    • Bill Mullins

      Hey Matt,

      Apparently not. According to the developer’s site – 64-bit Vista and 64-bit Windows 7 are supported by the latest *Beta* version only (Predator Beta v2.0.2.434).

      Bill

  10. Matt

    I e-mailed the developer and he said the x64 version should be available now. I will be trying it out later today