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Freeze turns phones into passwords
Published: 2009-05-07

Core system software maker Phoenix Technologies announced on Wednesday an add-on program for Windows XP and Vista that links users' phones with their computers — walk away and the system will lock automatically.

The software, dubbed Phoenix Freeze, uses a mobile device's Bluetooth feature to pair a phone with a laptop or desktop system. When a user moves a certain distance from the computer, the program will lock the desktop; when the user returns, the program will automatically unlock the system.

The service should improve the security of the average user's system and may even deter thieves, argued Cary Hayward, director of product management at Phoenix.

"One of the main purposes of Freeze is to make your laptop not vulnerable," he said. "It binds to the authentication process ... to lock the system."

Freeze is the latest program in Phoenix's suite of add-on applications, which it refers to as its PC 3.0 platform. The company — best known for its AwardBIOS software used by many computers to boot up in their main operating system — has previously released its FailSafe anti-theft software and HyperSpace application environment. Phoenix also offers its own secure core software platform that complies with the Trusted Computing Group's specifications.

While the Freeze program offers additional security, the company also stressed its ability to save power. If a user moves a certain distance away, the computer can go into a power-saving mode. When the user moves even farther away, then the computer locks, and can be configured to also enter sleep mode.

The program will not lock people out, if they forgot their phone or if their battery dies, Hayward said. In that case, the person can always just enter in their password.

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Posted by: Robert Lemos
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