Most computer security problems aren’t caused by weak security technology. They happen because people are too dumb or lazy to use the technology properly.
Maybe they don’t particulalry feel like locking their computer every time they leave their desk. (Though, honestly, do I actually want to waste those two extra seconds every time I stand up to go the bathroom?) Or maybe they’re so gullible that they give their password to anyone who emails and claims they are the IT department’s official password verifier.
While gullibility may never be cured, GateKeeper might be the solution to the laziness problem. It’s an automatic locking system that fortifies your computer against unauthorized users. It locks when you are away from your desk, but it automatically unlocks your computer when you sit down to work.
It has two parts: a USB dongle for your computer and an electronic sensor about the size of a thumb drive. The sensor has a hole so you can slip it on your keychain, but if you want to proudly display your dedication to IT security to the world, the GateKeeper also comes with a branded lanyard you can slip around your neck.
How it works is simple: you plug in the USB dongle, download an app on your computer, and set up your pin. When you’re close to your computer and wearing the sensor, the computer unlocks and is ready to use. But when you walk away, the dongle detects your increasing distance, and your computer locks. If Tom Cruise repels from the ceiling to steal your data, Mission Impossible-style, he’ll be thwarted.
The unlocking range is adjustable. Only want your computer unlocked when you’re literally sitting down at your desk? Set up a tight detection range. Are you fine with the computer being accessible when you’re in the general area? You can extend it to around 30 feet or so.
There are extra security features that can help you if you’re extra paranoid. For example, you can allow the computer to only be unlocked when you physically tap the sensor to the dongle. For an NSA-level of security, you can also set up a two-factor authorization that requires you to enter a PIN and have the sensor close to the computer in order to access it.
The GateKeeper is marketed to IT professionals and people who generally just want to keep their data secure. But there’s one other market that it should appeal to: parents. If you don’t feel like password-protecting your home computer, the GateKeeper gives you the comfort of knowing that your kids are incapable of using it without your permission (or presence). For example, I can accurately report that it kept my daughter from watching baking shows on YouTube when she should’ve been doing her homework.
At the moment, the GateKeeper is only available for Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. But a version for iOS is reportedly in the works.
If you opt out of two-factor authorization, you can still access your computer through an old-fashioned password. But the rest of the time, the Gatekeeper is a godsend for anyone who wants extra security with minimal effort and thinking.