One of the things that I do all the time when I leave a computer I'm working on in an environment where others may access it is lock it or boot it down.
I remember having that it was company policy to do so in the last job that I had before I started running Ghacks full time.
Anyway, locking on Windows is easily down by using the shortcut Windows-l which locks it immediately. This locks the PC and displays a login prompt instead which requires you to enter the user account password or switch to another user to use the computer.
USB Raptor is a free program for Windows that offers an alternative. Instead of locking and unlocking the PC using the native option of the operating system you are using a third-party solution instead.
Note: The program requires the Microsoft .Net Framework 4.0.
Why? Because it may be more convenient and secure depending on how you use the system.
USB Raptor can configure USB devices to lock and unlock the computer. It unlocks the computer when the USB device is present and locks it automatically when it is not.
When you first start the program you are asked to configure your first device. USB Raptor starts in simple configuration mode which requires only basic user input. Experienced users may want to check the advanced configuration to customize the behavior.
In simple mode, you select a password and USB drive you want to use for the process and are done. The program writes a key file to the USB device using the password you select which it uses to identify drives permitted to lock or unlock the PC. The only thing left to do afterwards is to enable the protection using the program's system tray icon.
The core benefit of USB Raptor in this state is that you don't need to enter a password to unlock the PC anymore. Simply plug the USB Device in and the system gets unlocked. It is alternatively possible to click with the mouse and enter the password instead.
This locking and unlocking process can be customized using advanced configuration options.
You may want to disable the network receiver option if you don't plan to use it on a computer network. Other options that you find here are to switch to system lock from USB Raptor's own locking mechanism, to mute sounds while the system is locked, enable or disable backdoor access (can be useful if you lose the USB device), harden the unlocking by linking it to a device's serial number, or password protect the application's interface as well to protect it from unauthorized access.
The main thing that USB Raptor has going for it, apart from network support, is that it is real easy to use and move convenient than having to enter the user account password each time the PC is unlocked.
It is unclear at this point in time how well USB Raptor protects against users trying to gain unauthorized access. A quick test using various keyboard combinations was not successful but that does not mean that there is no way to exploit this.
You can very well switch to the native system lock of the Windows system though if you prefer this locking mechanism.
The program seems well designed and offers lots of features and customization options.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.