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Portable workstation locking utility

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Scoon
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Portable workstation locking utility

Hi everyone Smile

I've scoured the net for the kind of app that I'm looking for, and also found an (unresolved) thread regarding it here (https://portableapps.com/node/1422), but have still not been able to find what I'm looking for.

It seems like it would be a fairly simple app to write, so I thought I might ask nicely Smile

Basically, I'm looking for a program that will lock my workstation. NOT one that is installed on the host PC and uses the USB drive as a key to unlock it, but something which when run from my drive will lock the workstation until a password is provided, without the user needing a user account or admin privileges.

The thread previously mentioned suggested using a screensaver file, but unfortunately it seems you need a personal user account to define the password and access to alter the display settings - not to run the file, but to activate the option of prompting for a password when input is detected (at least in Windows 7).

The reason I'm looking for an app like this is that often when I spend time at a net cafe, I'm usually in the middle of downloading something when I need a bathroom break, and I don't want the hassle of closing everything, ejecting my USB and then reversing the process when I come back.

It doesn't seem as if it would cause any problems either if you forgot to disable it, as a simple hard reboot would solve the problem.

Anyone willing to help?

Thanks in advance,
Scoon

Jimbo
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can't be done

I thought this was explained last time this question was raised.

Here is the scenario....

You write a wonderful screen-blanker / password requester app, that does all that you want of it, set it off, and nip out to grab a coffee.

NastyMan comes along, hits Ctrl-Alt-Del oh look, he can run task manager and kill your app. Gosh, he's broken through your super-tough security.

Just to be clear, it is a core design feature of all windows NT-class versions (NT, 2000, XP, Vista, 2003, 2008, 7) that it is not possible for a user process to trap the Ctrl-Alt-Del key combination. It is what is known as an SAK (a secure attention key), which basically guarantees that you're put through to the operating system, not to some nasty password collector program that the previous user has left running.

This means that if anyone ever found a way to trap it, it would be a bug and MS would fix it (well, in theory).

So, unless you use the OS built-in lock routine (as is used by the screensaver), then it will always be trivial to get past your lock application.

solanus
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Not so fast...

There is a nifty little freeware app called Matrix Screen locker by BaroufaSoft.
http://www.baroufasoft.net/matrix.htm
It does not prevent the use of Ctrl+Alt+Delete; but it does gray out the buttons for Task Manager, Log Off, and Shut Down, so the worst that NastyMan could do is change the Windows Account Password.

Not Super Tough... but tough enough?

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

Jimbo
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impressive

I hit the windows key while it was "locked" and got a start menu... I'm thinking that it wouldn't take long to get past that one.... pskill springs to mind.

The trouble is, that any locking method that is run as the current user doesn't have the ability to truly lock out the console.

solanus
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Really?

I'm running XP SP3 as someone with admin rights to the machine, and I don't get the start menu. The only keystrokes it seems to respond to at all are Ctrl+Alt+Del and Alt+Tab - which brings up the app switching window, but does not bring any app to the forefront.

I know the app goes to black after some time to save CPU resources, but it's supposed to go back to the matrix thing when you hit a key. Did you hit the windows key with the black screen or while it was still in matrix mode?

To use pskill, you need to be able to access the executable for pskill, which presumably you would have on your own USB stick, so you'd need to get to an explorer window or command prompt to run it.

Of course there are lots of ways of screwing with any unattended PC. You could pull out his stick. You could power it down.

But it seems the OP is looking for a Q&D solution so he can take a leak without some clown interrupting his DL.

I'd think this would be tough enough for that.

EDIT: Anyway, if someone were to make a launcher for it, they could add in a scancode registry key that disables the Windows keys.
Funny thing, if you google "Disable windows key", the first thing there is a solution by.... John T. Haller!

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

Jimbo
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Yes, Really

Keys that I tried...

Windows on it's own - showed the menu

Win+R - popped up the run box, although matrix then came in front of it (though I have focus-follows-mouse, so it can be difficult to know sometimes what causes stacking changes).

Alt-Tab - popped up a set of previews of all the windows, so if I'd been trying to keep my browsing.... discreet, even that would have made a mess of it Smile

So, personally, I'd say that the app in its current state is little more than a toy.

solanus
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MSL not really portable yet

It does leave persistent keys in the registry, but I think one of our devs could make a launcher that fixes that easily enough.
Haven't done a regshot yet, but I know at least it adds:
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Policies\Explorer\NoClose
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Policies\Explorer\NoLogOff
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Policies\System\DisableTaskManager

It adds them every time you run the app, but doesn't delete on exit.

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

Scoon
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*always* be *trivial*

Here's the thing I don't understand about a lot of the forum postings on this site; the paranoia about security.

One question you failed to ask before posting was whether the scenario you proposed was relevant.

The only way to truly ensure that your USB drive is secure, is to have it in your pocket (and even then it might fall out lol)

Even if there was a way to bypass task manager etc., there would be nothing stopping someone who really wanted your data from pulling your drive out, making off with it and tampering with it at their leisure.

The reasons behind why I want this app are much more simple than "total" security; I want to ensure nobody walking past my screen can read stuff/mess with what I have open and to let people know that the computer is in use and not abandoned, so they don't just sit down, shut down my windows and use it themselves.

There's no need to even attempt to over-engineer such a solution to my problem.

Anyway, getting back to the point, if anyone knows of/can create such an app please let me know.

Jimbo
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paranoia

ScoonHere's the thing I don't understand about a lot of the forum postings on this site; the paranoia about security.

It isn't paranoia. It is experience.

While you are asking for a simple little app that stops people messing as they walk past (try that matrix program out, it'll probably be absolutely fine for your needs), many people reading this thread will see "lock my screen", and "xyz application", download something, and then cry when they lose all their bank account data that they had protected with it.

Security has to always be appropriate to the situation. Sometimes all that you need is a post-it note stuck to the monitor saying "I'm using this machine, leave it alone". Sometimes you need a marine with an M16 rifle stood there to ensure that only authorized personnel access anything.

Sadly, there are way too many people out there who use computers for critical-to-them tasks that have complete access to, for example, their financial and identity information, who's understanding of security is "pick a clever password like your dog's name", or "write down your PIN in your address book under Bank". Because of this, security-aware people tend to be over-cautious, and stress the negatives and problems, to try to reduce people's over-reliance on inappropriate solutions.

adude159753
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Like he said...

The application might be useful but it won't prevent any loss of data and otherwise unhappy things that might occur while you are away. I'm also willing to guareentee that even if you get this application, at some point in time, you will regret that you got it because when you used the application to lock your workstation and some person came along and took your flash drive (because you can't stop that from happening) and all your stuff and files are all lost. I'm not trying to say there are alot of bad people in the world, I'm simply just stating the facts and the consequences of letting your guard down.

-adude159753, adude1597535, thorn, essentiel
--whomever you choose to remember me by in the previous and current games I have and am playing.
-Word to the wise: Only with hard work can you do; only with persistance can you achieve.

adude159753
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What I found...

I found this but it requires you to have a jetflash flash drive made by transcend.

http://www.transcendusa.com/products/JFelite.asp

You can buy a JetFlash T5 1GB-4GB and JetFlash T3 1GB-8GB. I don't know the prices though so check it out on www.transcendusa.com. But I'm not sure if the computer has to be your own though...

Unfortunately you need their flash drive, it's probably not open source buy you can give it a try. It just won't be a portable app you'll find on this website.

-adude159753, adude1597535, thorn, essentiel
--whomever you choose to remember me by in the previous and current games I have and am playing.
-Word to the wise: Only with hard work can you do; only with persistance can you achieve.

solanus
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Still not quite what the OP

Still not quite what the OP was asking for.
It looks like this can lock your computer just by pulling the flash drive,
but the OP's issue was that he wanted to lock the computer while downloading at an internet cafe.
That means that he has to leave the drive in, because that's where he's DL-ing to; also, if he's using FF portable...

Scoon, if you find that your DLs are so slow that you need to take a bio-break in the middle, you may want to add a DL accelerator to your FF portable.
Try the Download Them All! Extension:
https://portableapps.com/apps/internet/downthemall_extension
It really speeds up DLs incredibly!

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

solanus
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Jimbo's experiences notwithstanding

I believe that this app may be useful to you.
It should work OK from your USB key, even though it doesn't match the strict description of "portable" as defined on this site.

As for the Windows key or the Win+R issues that Jimbo has found, I have not seen that on any of the systems I've used it on (2 laptops on XP, 1 Desktop on XP, 1 Desktop on W2K).

Ultimately, you can try it out yourself in the Cafes you frequent, and determine if it fulfulls your needs.
Make sure you DL the version 2.0, there are older versions floating around out there:
http://www.baroufasoft.net/matrix.htm

P.S. Jimbo, when I said Really? it wasn't that I didn't believe you. I really would like to know what OS you are using, since this app hasn't changed in 3 years, and maybe it's a Vista thing, or something unique to your system...

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

Jimbo
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Sorry if I came across as

Sorry if I came across as grumpy, I made the mistake of replying before my first coffee of the day.

I'm using Windows 7 build 7100, but I also have a number of focus tweaks applied to it, since I used to use and love sloppy focus on X before coming to a job where I now have to use windows on my desktop instead of linux. (*sigh* darned windows and tools). Actually, the system in question is running version Unholy Mess (TM), since it went from XP SP3 to Vista RTM to Vista SP1 to Windows 7 by consecutive upgrades in the space of a couple of hours one day a few months ago. I really ought to clean it and re-install from scratch, though I may wait until I can get a pukka copy of 7 now that the RTM is around and October looks real for a ship date.

I agree with you that the app may well be useful to the OP here, but I'm too used to an environment where "confidential" really means it to really be comfortable with recommending security tools that aren't all that secure.

ottosykora
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strange need

so as long as the usb stick is in , your workstation is 'protected' and when it is just pulled out it is not protected since the gadget software is not here any more?

Great, so I just pull the stick out and the whole security is over?

Otto Sykora
Basel, Switzerland

ottosykora
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strange need

so as long as the usb stick is in , your workstation is 'protected' and when it is just pulled out it is not protected since the gadget software is not here any more?

Great, so I just pull the stick out and the whole security is over?

Otto Sykora
Basel, Switzerland

Evil-Dog
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i have a way to lock a windows pc

follow this link (u will need a un-zipper)
http://rapidshare.com/files/292838507/Lock.zip.html
all it is is a simple shortcut that locks the machine
to unlock it you enter the user-name and password
this will not work on machines that don't have passwords
i have been using this for going on 3 years without problem
it works even if the USB stick is removed as it runs on the host machine
it runs using one of the main parts of windows so it can't be disabled
the machine can only be unlocked by an admin or the logged in user
please do not abuse this

solanus
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This assumes that the user knows the Windows username + PW

The Original Poster (Scoon) asked because he spends time in net cafes.
Net cafes don't give out that info.

That's why he wants something that runs from his stick.

It's easy enough to lock a workstation using the Windows Task Manager, but if you don't know the username and password, you've just locked yourself out.

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

Mir
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Why this wont work. There is

Why this wont work.

There is somethign called a power button. it works usualy and is useful for logging a person out when they have locked a computer and left the area, building, state, country.

zarkod
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Portable workstation locking utility

Seems that Clear Lock does the job
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Security/Lockdown/ClearLock.shtml

For multi monitors support only the beta version 1.5 works.
http://theoven.org/index.php?topic=180.0;prev_next=prev#new

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