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.
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.
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:
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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