This Could Remove All The Fun From When A Coworker Leaves Her Computer Unlocked

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Wireless PC Lock I don’t know about you, but running into an unlocked workstation in the office is like finding a voucher for a free airline ticket and hotel stay at Vegas complete with gambling money. In other words, pure fun. (Ok, perhaps I overstated that a bit. I’d much prefer the free stay in Vegas. Anyone? Anyone?)

There are any number of interesting pranks you can pull, but my favorite continues to be to take a screenshot of the user’s desktop, and then move all desktop shortcuts into a backup folder. Also make sure to hide all the taskbars. Then find a decent inconspicuous vantage point and watch as the unsuspecting user flounders with an unresponsive desktop. That’s usually good for a few laughs.

Alternatives include replacing desktop background with embarassing images and changing all the sounds in the systems to embarassing sounds, or simply to sounds for other system functions. The last one is quite subtle, but can be quite confusing as it shows how reliant we can become on sound to navigate a computer.

In any case, in his role as desktop hijinks party pooper, Scott Hanselman has unveiled his latest installment of his “Some Assembly Required” column.

In this installment, he highlights a fine piece of USB hardware, a wireless pc lock, used to automatically lock your machine when you are away. The hardware unfortunately comes with some lame software, so he proceeds to build improved software that can not only lock your machine when you’re away, but set your IM status to away (along with other functions and an extensibility model). That’s pretty sweet and all, but if this catches on, finding unlocked workstations could be a thing of the past (unless you happen to wander into the business or marketing department, the source of all email viruses in any company).

Well, I guess there’ll always the prank of stealing the USB dongle.

Security Question\ I am a little ignorant about how USB works, but one security question this raises is what happens if you walk away, and I put an intermediate USB device between the dongle and the computer, and record the data going back and forth. When the user returns, he or she is quite unlikely to notice if the dongle is in the back of the computer (think corporate workstation). How will this device and software protect against that?

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6 responses

  1. Avatar for Corey Henderson
    Corey Henderson August 15th, 2005

    For more trouble, I like using MS Word (and hence Outlook's composer) to "correct" words for other people's entertainment.

  2. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked August 15th, 2005

    Oh, that's a good one! It's so Eeeeeevil.

  3. Avatar for Kieran Jacobsen
    Kieran Jacobsen August 15th, 2005

    Bought that a while ago now. Well mine looks similar, but is marked SiteCom here in Australia. They are great little devices, and yeah the software is lame. Will try scott's software today.

  4. Avatar for Corey Ward
    Corey Ward August 15th, 2005

    I was tempted to get one of these when they first came out, but what good would it be when A.) Someone steals the USB transmitter, B.) The batteries in the "dongle" go dead, or C.) When you lose you keys?

    Now that I think about it, if you had a laptop you could use it to locate your keys...just run around the house until it unlocks...hahaha.

    I am much more tempted by the simple and convenient fingerprint scanning mouse/keyboard from MS, as much as I despise them. I was millimeters from buying it, then I found out it was all a scam to get people to use ghetto ass IE (it wouldn't work with any other browsers). Bleh.

  5. Avatar for Lauri Väin
    Lauri Väin August 15th, 2005

    A cool prank to do, is to modify their hosts file and map Google or the company site to a Humpty Dumpty site. There is no excuse in leaving your workstation open for the world to see. It works wonders ;)

  6. Avatar for Scott C Reynolds
    Scott C Reynolds August 17th, 2005

    I send emails to the user, user's department and IT department stating something about how "I boldy and defiantly leave my computer open, for the world to see." and some other funny things. This then opens up a flurry of funny responses from the recipients, and usually by the time the offender returns to his desk he has a whole lot of email to wade through.