<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/lacieusbkeys.jpg” />Predator is cool USB security software for Windows that enables you to lock/unlock your computer with a USB drive and provides loads of other features like logging, alert alarm, configurable lock screen etc. Predator adds an additional layer atop of the Windows passwords. So do note that it if somebody knows your login password, he/she can still login to your computer.
What Predator does very well is change how you login to your computer. First and foremost, it enables you to use a USB key to lock/unlock your computer without having to enter your password every time. Obviously this has it advantages and disadvantages.
On the upside, it let’s you unlock the computer without having to enter the password so users won’t need to compromise between the password strength and ease of use. On the other side, if anyone gets a hold of your USB drive, all they have to do is to plug it in and they will have access to your system.
You can download the Predator USB security software here. Once installed you need to run Predator with administrative privileges. It asks you to configure a USB drive as a key on the first run. Plug in a USB thumb drive, create a password and then create the USB key. With that done you are now ready to use the USB drive as the key to lock/unlock your computer. You can still use the USB drive to store any files as you would normally do. From now on if you want to lock the computer have a look at the Predator icon in the system tray, wait if it is red and if it is not, you can remove the USB key. The computer will be locked after a fixed interval of time that can be specified in Predator settings.
Talking of settings, lets have a look on the things you can configure inside Predator. First off as I mentioned above, you can customize the time interval between your pulling out the USB drive and the moment your computer gets locked. You can control how the screen looks like when the computer is locked. You can turn down the screen’s brightness all the way to 0, hide desktop icons and minimize all windows to show through the wallpaper when the computer is locked. You can also specify if you are using a multi monitor setup. You can set it to autostart with Windows and enable or disable pause. If pause is enabled you can use the system tray icon to prevent locking your computer when you remove the USB drive. Very handy, if you just need transfer a file or two with your USB key.
The thing I like most about the Predator USB security software is that the keyboard and mouse are disabled when computer is locked. So it is not easy to figure out how to unlock the computer. You can of course unlock the computer by simply plugging in the USB drive that you configured to work as a key. That being said, you can still unlock the computer using the password you set inside preferences dialog. Predator displays a password prompt if anyone hits 3 keys on the keyboard. The user then has 10 seconds to insert the USB key or enter the correct password after which the computer starts beeping, if there have been 3 unsuccessful attempts, an alarm is set off to let you know.
In addition to all the above mentioned features, Predator also logs every event so that you know if someone has been trying to get into your computer. Overall, Predator offers a nice feature set. While it doesn’t add any additional security layers, it obscures the expected interface, disables the mouse/keyboard and makes it that little bit harder to get into the computer without having authorized access. Predator works on Windows XP through to 7.
Let us know what you think of such solutions and how you prefer to secure your computer?