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Xyloc Wireless PC Security device

Author: Rover
Posted on: 1/1/2001
Sponsor: Xyloc
Discuss: In the forums

The first computer, ENIAC, was built to help bombers and artillery plot the trajectories of their ammunition for a more accurate aim. It was also envisioned as a fast means of breaking the encryption schemes used by the enemy. From that day forward security and computers have been inseparable. Hackers and crackers are breaking into computers everyday, most without malicious intent, but there are those that hack for the sheer destruction and mayhem. With the advent of the Internet, hackers have a clear avenue of approach to the target system and system administrators therefore take the necessary countermeasures. But the easiest way to break into a system is having physical access to the computer in question. Studies have shown the biggest security risk for a company is not hackers from outside, but individuals from the inside. Unfortunately, most of the security measures designed to prevent a hacker from breaking in from the Internet does little to stop someone already on the inside. So what steps can a sysadmin take to prevent an inside job? I suppose they could lock the server(s) up in a room and throw away the key, but that makes administration difficult. How about wrapping the server(s) up in an electrically charged fence? Again that is too difficult to administer. Well, Ensure Technologies has come up with a solution, the Xyloc Wireless PC Security device.

The Details
The version I received was the USB model of the Xyloc Solo Wireless PC Security device for Win9x/NT/2000, but it also comes in PS/2 keyboard and serial port flavors. With three pieces of hardware, a few tidbits, some instructions and a CD there is not much in the box. The hardware consists of a small rectangular box with an LED, called the Lock, which connects to a USB port and comes with a USB extension cable just in case you need it. You'll also find a badge like device, called the Key, which is smaller than a credit card but thicker with two buttons and an LED on the front.


Due to the simplistic installation of this product the directions are spartan, yet easy to understand. I was able to install the device, load the drivers and install the necessary software in under two minutes. After which I had a fully functional wireless security device on my Windows2000 PC. From there all I had to do was wear my Key like a badge and when I walked away from it Xyloc would lock it down.

The Fine Details
The Key is a low power radio transmitter that emits a signal which Ensure Technologies claims can not be copied and is encrypted. The Lock and software can be setup to look for a particular Key and if it is not within range will “lock” the PC similar to “locking” an NT/2000 machine. There are various levels of security you can set depending on your needs, but be careful. You can lock yourself out of the computer completely and that would not be good. Ensure Technologies recommends you start using the Xyloc security device at its default security level to familiarize yourself with it and become comfortable using the device. Once familiar with it you can change the security level to better suit your needs. Another important detail is the battery in the Key. It has a projected life of 12 to 24 months depending on frequency of use. Would it not be a real bummer if your battery died and you lost the capability to get into your PC? Fortunately, the Key automatically powers off after 9 hours saving precious battery life and there are options to override the Key.

The battery is a Panasonic CR 3032 and is easily accessed by removing 2 tiny screws from the back of the Key. The Key also has 2 small buttons on the front, “Off” and “On” buttons, plus a status LED. If one Key is not enough for your situation Ensure Technologies sells additional Keys for $59 US each with their own separate encoded radio signal. You can then assign a Key to a specific user with specific rights to the machine. The Xyloc device excels at versatility and flexibility allowing you to satisfy your specific security requirements quickly and efficiently while keeping cost to a minimum. You can even setup Xyloc to allow access to individual programs!

Setting Up the Basics
Ensure Technologies could not have made setup any easier under Windows 9x/2000. Simply connect the Lock to the USB port, when prompted for the drivers slip the CD-ROM in and install the drivers. Then run “install.exe” from the CD-ROM to install the necessary software and complete a short step-by-step setup procedure. As I said previously Ensure Technologies recommends sticking with the default security settings until you become familiar with the Xyloc device and its capabilities. The only thing I needed to change right away was the “distance” setting. I wanted to be able to walk around my computer room without it locking the PC so I changed the setting to “long” range. At that setting I was able to walk about 15 ft. from the PC before it locked. The default settings also allowed me to override the Xyloc security by entering my password, handy in case you lose your Key, the battery dies or you left the Key in the bedroom and you’re too lazy to go get it.

Why would you want it?
If you have ever worked in the IT industry, especially as a Network Administrator, you’ll know exactly what this device is for. Where I work we have magnetic badge reader access to the server room, which eliminates the need for something like the Xyloc. But some companies cannot afford to install such a costly security system and that is where the Xyloc comes into play. Its ability to “lock” a PC/server is an invaluable security measure that cannot be overlooked in today’s environment. You never know who might be an amateur hacker or even a corporate spy. The use of computers in all types of businesses has grown rapidly in the past few years and keeping something secret before it is patented can mean the success or failure of a business venture. To top it off you can order additional Keys for other users allowing you to expand the user base of the PC without compromising the security level.

Is this for home?
At first I didn’t think this device would have any purpose in the home environment, but after using it I’ve changed my mind. It is especially handy if you have children running about and don’t want them getting in to a particular PC. If you have a server sharing a high speed Internet connection with a Content Advisor to block your children from surfing on inappropriate sites then the Xyloc is the perfect solution. It will keep them and any one else whom you don’t want on the PC off (like snoopy roommates or spouses).

Is it perfect?
By no means is the Xyloc the end all be all of physical security for a PC. It cannot stop someone from booting from a floppy to gain access to the SAM file, nor can it stop a criminal from just taking the PC. Much of the security available with the Xyloc device is dependant on the settings you chose to use. I personally do not have the balls to set my Xyloc to maximum security nor do I need to, but it is always there if I ever have to lock my PC down tight. No security is perfect security, but you can't go wrong with the Xyloc that's for sure. It's peace of mind without taking a piece of your wallet.

Costing a measly $179 USD the Xyloc by Ensure Technologies is cheap enough for most corporate and home users. With its unparalleled physical security, ease of installation and simplistic use the Xyloc Wireless PC Security device is a wonderful product and it gets the LittleWhiteDog two paws up. For those of you who are regular visitors to LittleWhiteDog you know we aren’t afraid to tell it like it is and I have to say I love this product. Not only does it give you physical security but it looks cool and is sure to make all of your friends jealous just like mine are.

Copyright © by LWD All Rights Reserved.

Published on: 2004-09-07 (19354 reads)

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