Gatekeeper fob eliminates the need for your long computer password


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Erin Lawrence

If you work in an office where security is paramount, you know what a pain it can be to constantly be required to put in your password every time you turn away from your screen. Not to mention the fact your password, of course, has 14 characters, upper and lower case, 42 wingdings, and a partridge in a pear tree.

There’s an easier way to deal with this pain in the rear, while still maintaining the security of your network.

Meet Gatekeeper

Gatekeeper is a tiny key fob with a powerful superpower. It can log you in and out of your computer without you ever entering a keystroke. The device is really easy to set up. Once you start the pairing process, the app finds the fob via your smartphone app in seconds. Step two is to download the software to your computer.

With the software downloaded, you slide the tiny USB chip into a port on your computer. Then just touch the key fob to the USB stick in your computer; doing so immediately registers the key. Once this is done you get a pop-up menu that allows you to configure your lock settings.

It knows when you’re near… or far

What the Gatekeeper does is uses proximity to lock or unlock your computer. When the fob is close to the computer (you can set the exact distance you want) it will automatically unlock your screen. When you get up and walk away, it automatically locks it again. While you could clip the device to your keychain, it’s probably much more effective worn on your body; either attached to a lanyard or retracting card clip.

I tested the proximity and speed of the device by simply walking it across the room from my laptop. A few steps away from my screen, I could see the device lock my computer.  Stepping back into range, the screen was unlocked again before I could even sit down.

I ran this test a few times and the Gatekeeper is very responsive. What happens if you misplace the fob? Fortunately you can still access your computer by using the “hit return for manual login” option. After hovering briefly in black I was taken to my main login screen where I was able to login instantly. The only problem I found with that test was that as soon as I was in, it booted me out again because the keychain was still across the room. As soon as I pulled it back across the room the screen popped open, no password required. But I could see that being a problem if you can’t actually find your fob for a while.

Is there a way to beat the Gatekeeper system?

This got me thinking; what would happen if I simply pulled the USB stick from the USB port? Would I potentially be able to get around the security protocols? So I tried that. Even with the USB stick removed, the lock screen stayed put. I was forced to manually enter my password in order to regain control of the computer. Once back in, Gatekeeper will prompt you to reinsert the USB lock to re-enable Gatekeeper.

That means, even if you slip away from your computer and someone knows the USB stick is enabling the security software, and even if they pull it out, they won’t be able to login without your password.

No need for another password

One aspect of the system I like quite a bit, is that you don’t need to set up a brand-new login and password. Gatekeeper uses your existing system login and password, so there’s no need to worry about forgetting a secondary password. That’s really smart.

Gatekeeper is a tracking device too

The unlocking function of this key fob is just one of the tasks it will do. It also functions as a tracking device for things like lost keys pass cards phones remotes just about anything you might misplace. including the fob itself.  If, as  I noted above, you can’t find your fob, you can send an alert or track its location or even have it sound an alarm if it slips out of range.  However I had a much more difficult time getting this function working. When I’d try to locate the tracker, I’d just get a message that it’s out of range.

 The Gatekeeper is $49 USD from the company’s website.  A second generation Gatekeeper is about to be released, that will cost $10 more, but it’s on for the same price as the Gen 1, for a short time.

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