Cool USB Key Locks Your PC

For the paranoid parent, Griffin Technologies releases its new USB-based PC nanny, the $59 ControlKey PC lock.

LAS VEGAS--For the paranoid parent, Griffin Technologies released its new USB-based PC nanny, the $59 ControlKey PC lock.

With special software, ControlKey locks down a PCs Internet connection and file system, holding it hostage until the physical key is connected to a USB port on the computer. With the device, parents can lock down the family computer when kids are left unattended or the security-conscious office worker can protect her PC when out of the office.

"ControlKey allows parents to easily and effectively manage the way their children use the computer and the Internet," explained Bennett Griffin, president and founder of Griffin in a written statement.

The software, while limited in this release, does allow a configurable level of protection. For the basic user, the Internet connection can be constrained using one of three presets: block everything, block all online activities but printing (no browsing, chatting, or e-mail), or block nothing. The advanced user can take the configuration one step further by blocking specific ports by address rather than using the presets. As an example, a parent could block all Internet traffic using the ControlKey software so that her child could only surf the web, gossip in a chat room, or converse over e-mail when the parent was physically present in the room.

The file system can be clamped down on a file-by-file basis. For instance, ControlKey could be set up to only protect Quicken or Microsoft Money files. Those files could then only be opened when the ControlKey was attached to the computer.

The next release of the software will give the user a more granular level of control, explained Griffin. The presets will most likely include settings to block chat and email only, and allow a white list for Web surfing--a list of allowed Web sites for browsing.

Weighing in at 0.2 lbs and fitting neatly on a keychain, it should easily fit in any pants pocket.

ControlKey is available directly from the manufacturer at

For more, check out PCMag.coms 2004 CES Special Report