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Lock Your PC with Phone When You Walk Away

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 23 comments

For consumers looking for a good way to "lock" a PC or laptop when away, Phoenix Technologies offers a unique solution: Freeze.

What makes this application cool is that it enables mobile phones the ability to place computers in a "locked" mode by way of a paired Bluetooth connection. Users merely need to step away from the PC far enough--with the mobile phone in hand--in order to activate the lock. However, the service isn't free, and only works on Windows XP (32-bit Professional, Home), Windows Vista (32-bit Home, Ultimate, Business), with future plans to support Windows 7 and Mac OS at a later (unspecified) date.

"This combination offers safety, security, and peace of mind without the annoying effort required to constantly lock and unlock your PC with passwords or finger swipes," said the company. "For those who are particularly cautious and for those with a particularly critical need to secure data, you will be able to make Freeze a part of a multifactor authentication process and still reduce the time and effort required to achieve a highly secure PC experience."

According to the company, the Freeze application uses the paired Bluetooth signal from the mobile phone and computer to establish a configurable "zone of safety." When the mobile phone passes out of the zone, the program locks the PC or laptop at the Windows level, thus hiding the actual desktop and preventing access to stored files. The application can even be configured to put the computer into a reduced-power sleep mode that saves energy and laptop battery life. When the mobile phone returns to the zone of safety, the program unlocks the PC or laptop.

On the mobile phone end, the connection works like a Bluetooth headset. The installed Freeze program on the PC or laptop will search for the phone and send a pairing PIN when discovered. The PIN number must be entered into the Bluetooth section of the mobile phone in order for the process to work. Once established, a secure token will be generated, pairing both devices. During the next session, both devices will use the previously generated link key to authenticate each other, and will not need pairing. Unfortunately, Freeze only supports one paired phone at a time, however one phone can control multiple computers (such as Freeze on a laptop and Freeze on a desktop).

But why would anyone need the Freeze application? After all, consumers can set a password-protected screensaver to activate in less than a minute " Freeze eliminates the delay associated with the manual lock and unlock functions," the company said. Phoenix Technologies also said that Freeze will work with any Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone, however the company lists only four specific models/brands on the website: Blackberry, the Casio G'zOne Boulder, Apple's iPhone 3G, and the LG Titanium.

To view a flash demonstration, head here. The company is currently offering a 14-day free trial, although the website is currently not listing application pricing or subscription fees.

Just make sure your phone doesn't die while you're away.

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  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 7, 2009 12:41 AM
    This would only work for men - women typically don't take their cell phones with them in their pockets - when they grab lunch, go to the bathroom, etc. they leave their phone in their purse locked in a drawer or something
  • -6 Hide
    Anonymous , May 7, 2009 12:41 AM
    This would only work for men - women typically don't take their cell phones with them in their pockets - when they grab lunch, go to the bathroom, etc. they leave their phone in their purse locked in a drawer or something
  • 1 Hide
    Tindytim , May 7, 2009 1:27 AM
    A simple app that I wouldn't even use if it was free, and it only supports 32-bit OSes.

    I have a button on my mouse that locks my computer, a quick tap before I get out of my chair and my computer is locked.

    This is crap software and crap news, and what I surprise, look who reported it.
  • Display all 23 comments.
  • 7 Hide
    hellscook , May 7, 2009 2:24 AM
    I think the simple Win key + L works best.
  • 0 Hide
    todicamer , May 7, 2009 4:08 AM


  • 0 Hide
    todicamer , May 7, 2009 4:08 AM
    This solution existed in Ubuntu out of the box long time ago:
    http://technogra.ph/20080309/sections/downloads/blueproximity-walking-away-to-lock-your-computer/
    , in windows: http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2008/03/automatically_lock_your_computer_when_you_walk_away_with_blue_lock-2/
  • 2 Hide
    fuser , May 7, 2009 5:45 AM
    Yep. And there's an open source C# project that does the same thing.
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , May 7, 2009 12:24 PM
    Lol. Blutooth? lol. If it could do it via a text or the Internet that would be cool. But the current method is just stupid. But alas there is a sucker born every second.
  • 1 Hide
    bill gates is your daddy , May 7, 2009 1:36 PM
    hellscookI think the simple Win key + L works best.


    Exactly. I guess having to manipulate a couple of keys was way to taxing on our lazy world today. Why do I feel like we are on a fast track to becoming the society that was portrayed in Wall-E?
  • 2 Hide
    g-thor , May 7, 2009 2:29 PM
    So what happens when you get to work and realize you forgot your cell phone? How do you unlock your computer? Will your employer dock your pay for the time it takes to go home, get the paired cell phone and get back to work?

    It really seems frivolous and ridiculous. If someone works for a company that is that security conscious, then they need to develop good security habits on their own. This doesn't even qualify as idiot-proofing. (As Robert Heinlein said, it's extremely difficult to make anything idiot-proof because idiots are so darned ingenious.)
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 7, 2009 2:43 PM
    So... it's all right for companies to use bluetooth to unlock their computers but Microsoft removed the ability to sync your mobile device with ActivSync via bluetooth... :-\
  • 0 Hide
    antilycus , May 7, 2009 3:51 PM
    seriously if its that difficult for you to hit WINDOW KEY L and sign in, you probably shouldnt have a desk job... seriously, think about quitting because putting a password isnt anywhere near DIFFICULT or TEDIOUS AT ALL. You are just pathetic in life.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 7, 2009 4:09 PM
    Even if it worked perfectly and you wanted this kind of functionality in your workplace - it only works for men- women typically leave their cell phones in their purses locked in a drawer whenever they go out for coffee or a bathroom break.
  • 1 Hide
    Dyseman , May 7, 2009 4:57 PM
    OH S!@# My Cell battery died and I need to run home and charge it real quick so I can continue my work.
  • 0 Hide
    Grims , May 7, 2009 4:59 PM
    Why all the hostility? I for one think it's a neat concept. I use a strong password...having to type it in every time I go to the bathroom, hit the water cooler, or go on a call can be frustrating, and that leads to people not locking their PC at all, or choosing an easier password.
  • 1 Hide
    Grims , May 7, 2009 5:06 PM
    Also, I will bet money you can still log in with out your cell phone guys...don't be stupid
  • 1 Hide
    TwoDigital , May 7, 2009 6:36 PM
    Ideally, this app (I still like the open-source Bluelock app...) would still let you ctrl-alt-delete and enter your password to unlock even if the bluetooth is gone. If it's SMART it would then know to keep its function disabled until you manually turn it back on or the device again enters range.
  • 0 Hide
    Yagame , May 7, 2009 9:39 PM
    Floats Mobile Agent ("fma") has been doing this for years and for free!!!

    Granted, I couldnt get it to work on my devices cause I wasnt patient....but still!
  • 0 Hide
    todicamer , May 8, 2009 2:36 AM
    Yep is true, i currently use this product(FMA) with my Sony Ericsson k850 for more than a year. But FMA only block your computer and no has unlock functionality (must use ctrl+alt+del to unlock).

    YagameFloats Mobile Agent ("fma") has been doing this for years and for free!!!Granted, I couldnt get it to work on my devices cause I wasnt patient....but still!

  • 0 Hide
    todicamer , May 8, 2009 2:43 AM
    g-thorSo what happens when you get to work and realize you forgot your cell phone? How do you unlock your computer? Will your employer dock your pay for the time it takes to go home, get the paired cell phone and get back to work?It really seems frivolous and ridiculous. If someone works for a company that is that security conscious, then they need to develop good security habits on their own. This doesn't even qualify as idiot-proofing. (As Robert Heinlein said, it's extremely difficult to make anything idiot-proof because idiots are so darned ingenious.)


    I use this kind of software because in my computer at work I have confidential and sensitive information, sometimes you go to the bathroom and forgot to lock your computer(win+l), in this case the software is a good improvement in security.
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