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When you are leaving your workstation, even for a slight moment, it is advisable to lock your computer screen so no one can access your desktop without your permission. While this is good advice, most people forget about it or simply don’t do it because they find it troublesome to manually type the password to unlock it later. If you belong to this group of people, the Gatekeeper Halberd is a smart device that can make your life easier and more secure.
Halberd is a smart Bluetooth key that can be used to lock and unlock your computer based on the proximity between your computer and the device. It is small, just like your key, and comes with a hook for you to hook onto your keychain for portability.
Here is how it works:
- The Halberd is a wireless key that the user carries, that acts liked the authenticator.
- When the key is in range, the GateKeeper software authenticates you and logs you on.
- When the key moves out of range, the GateKeeper software automatically locks the computer.
Halberd comes in a small box. Opening it, all you find is the Halberd, an instruction slip, a battery, a USB Bluetooth dongle and a lanyard.
The Halberd comes with a small button at the side (more on its usage later) and a small LED light that will tell you when the battery is low.
To get started, there are a few things that you need to set up.
1. First, remove the battery cover from the Halberd and insert the battery.
2. On your Windows computer (it only supports Windows at the moment. The Mac and Linux versions will be available in the later part of the year) download the Gatekeeper software from its website.
3. Run the exe file and install the Gatekeeper software to your computer.
4. Once the installation finished, it will prompt you to insert the USB dongle to start the pairing process.
5. Next, it will ask you to pair your device.
To do so, simply place the Halberd close to the USB dongle (or even tap the dongle). If it is still not pairing, press the button at the back of the Halberd.
6. Once paired, it will ask for your Windows password. This is to allow it to unlock your Windows computer automatically. (Do note that your password is encrypted and stored locally in the machine. No private information is stored on the Halberd.)
7. Lastly, enter a PIN code as a secondary way of logging into your computer. This will also serve as a two-factor authentication for your computer if you desire more security.
The Gatekeeper software is simple and easy to use. At the main page, under the “User Info” tab, the signal strength is basically a sign of “how near” the Halberd is to the USB dongle. When the signal drops (presuming that you are leaving your computer), it will automatically lock the computer.
The “Lock Option” allows you to configure whether it should lock the computer or log out. The “Automatic Mode” refers to detection by proximity, while the Button mode refers to a click of the button on the Halberd. You can easily lock your computer with a press of the button on the Halberd. For the “Lock Sensitivity,” the default is “Normal,” and you can switch to “High” if you prefer it to be more secure.
And lastly, the “Unlock Option” allows you to configure how it should unlock your computer when Halberd is detected. The default is “Windows Password Login” which essentially means the Gatekeeper software is not doing anything to unlock your computer. You can, of course, select “Automatic Login” to get rid of the hassle of manually typing in the password to unlock it.
The “Touch Login” option requires you to physically touch the USB dongle with the Halberd before it unlocks. For those who are paranoid about security, the “PIN + Gatekeeper Login” will require you to enter a pin before it will unlock the computer.
The usage is very easy once you have configured it. To test, all you simply need to do is walk away with the Halberd, and your computer will automatically lock. When you return (or when the Halberd is detected), it will then unlock the computer.
What happen if someone removes the USB dongle when you are away?
One thing about the Gatekeeper software is that it doesn’t replace the standard Windows login (with password). Instead, it adds itself as another alternative to lock/unlock your computer. In the event that the USB dongle is removed after the computer is locked, you can still use the usual password method to unlock your computer. Don’t worry that it will lock you out of your own machine.
Note: The Gatekeeper software can only lock and unlock your computer. It doesn’t auto-login to your desktop. So if you have chosen the “Logout” option, you will have to physically enter the password to log in again to your computer.
One last thing: the button on the Halberd can only be used to lock the computer. It cannot be used to unlock the computer when it is locked.
Trident app – Using your mobile phone to unlock your computer
If you prefer not to carry an extra device around, there is also the Trident mobile app (cost $19.99) that you can download and use in place of the Halberd.
The Trident app works exactly the same as the Halberd, and they are a replacement for each other, so you just need to get one or the other. On the first run it will ask for permission to access your Bluetooth. Next, using the same Gatekeeper software, you can pair your phone either with your computer’s Bluetooth adaptor or with the Gatekeeper USB dongle.
Once paired, you can just walk away with your phone, and the computer will automatically lock. You can also click on the “Lock” button on the app to lock your computer. The computer will automatically unlock when it detects your mobile phone (with Trident app running).
If you are looking for convenience with safety, the Halberd is one device worth looking into. You never have to worry about forgetting to lock your computer again.