a companion discussion area for blog.codinghorror.com

Don't Forget To Lock Your Computer


I wonder how many of the same people here complaining that this practice is childish and pointless were also replying to some of the earlier security posts suggesting that people use custom hash functions or saying that it’s OK to store passwords in plain-text because people shouldn’t have access to your database.

Here’s what I have to say to you folks:

  1. Every company has at least one nutbar, or will soon. If you’re positive that it’s not any of your coworkers, then it’s probably you.

  2. Every company has several people who will fall for a social engineering stunt, whether it’s technological in nature (phishing) or personal (cable repair!).

  3. A security breach isn’t just a bug that you can fix later. You don’t get a second chance.

  4. Locking someone’s computer for them solves the immediate problem, but not the long-term one. Typical rookie mistake. You want to discipline people to lock their workstations, and doing it for them accomplishes the exact opposite! Pranks aren’t perfect, but they’re a lot better than heavy-handed reprimands or summary dismissals.

  5. Locking your computer doesn’t “waste time”. I can’t believe the people whining about how they’re only gone for 30 seconds. Who cares? It takes a fraction of a second to lock it, and maybe 3 seconds to unlock it, if you happen to be the slowest typist on the planet.

  6. Lighten up already. Yes, it’s childish - and yes, it’s funny. If 5 wasted minutes can ruin your whole day, you need therapy. And quite frankly, the people who are most “uncomfortable” (i.e. who completely freak out) when pranked are usually the funniest to watch. Like Jeff’s coworker who sent out a mass e-mail about Clippy.

And as for Sarbanes-Oxley, that’s exactly why you don’t hire finance guys to run an IT department. If you’re a public company and you’re forced to follow those inane rules, fine, but otherwise, who cares?


Isn’t setting up the type of enviornment where everyone giggles when someone sits down at a machine they’re not supposed to be at and uses it for a few minutes a bad thing? Are you really saying that smart security concious people will let me sit down at an unmanned machine at your business and install a program from the internet? It seems like most of you think that as long as it has a silly and easily removed side effect like clippy there wouldn’t by any further questioning then ‘how do they turn clippy off?’


I’ve become obsessive about locking my computer every time I walk away from it at work. When I was in college, a few people in the computer lab thought it was “hilarious” to replace your desktop wallpaper with hardcore porn if you left your computer unlocked.


When I was still in the dorms, I had a friend that kept loading his pc up with spyware from looking at porn. After about the 10th time cleaning it up I installed a lemonparty.org type screensaver, put a password on it, and put a shortcut to it in his startup folder. He couldn’t use his computer for several days until I gave in and removed it all. It didn’t help, I still had to clean his spyware infestations on a regular basis.


This is totally wrong.

A quiet word to a co-worker is one thing. Using their computer while they are logged on is quite different. Bluntly it is unethical and a breach of trust. It is identity theft.

If you send an email “I’ve been naughty”, or change my desktop, how do I know that you haven’t sent or read other email, or read (even changed) documents you had no right to access?


Jeff, didn’t you have a post just like this one not too long ago?



Just a question. Is it bad that I created a Bluescreen Screensaver just so I can give myself a little laugh when someone walks by my computer and thinks that it just bluescreened? BTW my before anyone asks how I can tell the difference I use a different font, size and a custom message (which no one actually reads).


jugimaster you are a anally retentive moron. If you don’t lock your computer, one day someone will use your account for nefarious deeds, and you will get the blame. And not one tear will be shed for you.

And the rest of you calling this “childish”? Get a life!


Recursion and goating combined in this giant wallpaper!


I think the Password Lock is very stupid and silly, and mostly, fake. Its very easy to bypass it, just power off and power on the computer! If you want to get into the user, put a keylogger to get their password. And I am also pretty sure that Microsoft Windows definitely has a trick to bypass the “rundll32.exe user32.dll” command,

Really, any ‘software locks’ in my opinion are fake.


after browsing about Tengwar, I found an idea: handicap font
A font with shuffled alphabets or even foreign writing systems that take up Latin alphabets. Dingbats are pre-installed, but you can try the Tengwar font: http://web.comhem.se/alatius/fonts/annatar.html


If anyone is still looking for a good solution. The GateKeeper will automatically lock/unlock your station. If the user walks away, the computer will lock. If the user returns the computer will unlock. It authenticates based on user presence.