A USB stick is convenient because it is small, cheap and very convenient to use. In case you lose it, you won’t have too many problems (unless it’s the loss of important data) because you can buy a new one for very reasonable prices.
After a while, most of us will come to a situation where we have excess USB sticks at home that are not being used and are just sitting in a drawer.
Here it is now necessary to be practical and use them in another way, and there are indeed several possibilities when they can serve you for very important purposes. One of them is to turn a USB stick into a physical key that will allow you secure access to open or close your computer.
Any user who has very important data and documents on his computer, and is looking for an additional layer of protection in addition to ubiquitous passwords, could use this conversion of a USB stick. Indeed, the fact that a specific physical component is required to unlock your computer could be one of the most secure options for access control. If you also have an extra USB slot, you can certainly work on it.
How to turn a USB stick into a physical key to access the computer?
The security aspect of passwords should not be doubted and once you use a strong password you can have confidence in the protection of your data, but in all situations it is enough for it to be discovered and someone can cause you great harm. A physical computer key is much more difficult to compromise in this context.
An additional advantage is that you do not have to remember passwords (which is not even necessary when you use some of the password managers) and you only have to rely on the software that is on your USB stick.
The disadvantages of turning a USB stick into a physical computer key is that you can lose it or it can get damaged. It may also not be practical when multiple people need access to the computer and it must be shared.
Before converting a USB stick into a physical key for a computer, the user must take into account the advantages and disadvantages of this conversion and the future way of working on the computer that will be opened using the USB stick.
There are three tools you can use to convert a USB stick to USB security key.
Predator is one of the most popular tools for turning a USB stick into a security key and access control device.
Predator used to be completely free software, but today things are a little different. His Home Edition the license has a price of 10 dollars. For professional and commercial environments, the license price is 15 dollars per computer without customer support. Predator Professional a license with one year of customer support will come 30 dollars by computer.
With the Predator, access to the computer is enabled while the USB stick is in the slot.
Advanced settings enable the following options:
- One USB stick can be used to unlock and lock several computers
- Multiple access USB sticks can be assigned to multiple users
- There is a built-in mode that allows you to set time limits for accessing the computer during the day
- In case the used USB stick is lost or damaged, users can enter access passwords
- USB security passwords change regularly.
Predator is a great option if you want to quickly and securely use a computer with restricted access via a USB stick as a physical key.
Rohos Logon Key Free
Rohos Logon Key Free is an access control program that can be used to turn a USB into a security key on Windows and Mac operating systems.
The free version of this program is only available for Windows, but it does not contain one part of important features. If you want the full version of this program, you will have to extract it 35 dollars.
Rohos works by saving your login information and automatically entering credentials when the USB stick is plugged in. An alternative login method exists for Android and iOS and allows you to unlock your Windows or Mac computer via smartphone.
Rohos Logon Key Free has the following features:
- Secure double authentication with USB key and PIN code
- Logging into the system when it is an emergency, i.e. in a situation where the USB is lost or damaged and when the PIN code is forgotten
- Passwords saved on a USB stick are encrypted using the AES-256 format and are protected against the creation of unauthorized duplicates.
Rohos is much simpler than Predator when it comes to editing settings and installation. Due to this fact, it is a program that is a literal replacement for entering credentials, so it is less secure than Predator and should be used according to the needs of the user. Predator represents another form of protection because access to the computer is enabled only while the USB stick is connected.
It is important to know that double authentication is not available for the free version of the program, so it is necessary to consider the payment option, since this is a very important additional layer of protection.
USB Raptor is a free security key application that you can use to unlock your Windows PC. USB Raptor locks your computer when you disconnect the USB stick from it.
USB Raptor actually functions as a portable application. You don’t need to install it to use it within your system and it only needs to be run via executable files to configure your USB stick.
Features of USB Raptor are:
- Matches the unlock file with the USB serial number
- Customizes the lock screen
- It always starts the system as locked.
USB Raptor is easy to use and it binds the security lock function with the serial code of your USB stick and is a very practical way of protection. It is only necessary to take care to set a replacement password in case of loss or damage of the USB stick.
In case you are not interested in installing the mentioned software as an option, you can always invest your financial resources in already formed hardware security keys. Some of the most popular are Yubico YubiKey, Google Titan Key, Thetis Fido U2F i Kensington Verimark Fingerprint Key.
Written by: Ervin Mičetić