Hands-On with Windows 10 Dynamic Lock

Posted on February 9, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 19 Comments

Hands-On with Windows 10 Dynamic Lock

Starting with the Creators Update, you will be able to use a linked smartphone or other device to automatically lock your PC when you step away. Here’s how it works.

Well, here’s how it works today, at least. My hope is that Microsoft will improve this feature before the Creators Update ships, since there is one glaring and obvious missing feature.

I’ll get to that in a moment. But starting with the recently-released Windows 10 Insider Preview build 15031, you can enable a new security feature called Dynamic Lock in Settings > Accounts > Sign-in Options.

Note: To do so, however, you will need to sign-in to Windows with a password. This is true of most of the features shown here, actually.

Before you can use Dynamic Lock, you will need to pair at least one Bluetooth device—your smartphone, a Fitbit, or similar—to your PC. In build 15031, you can’t do so from the Setting app, as it crashes when you select Devices. So you either need to pair the device before you upgrade, or use the Bluetooth control panel, which still works.

To enable Dynamic Lock, just select the option titled “Allow Windows to detect when you’re away and automatically lock the device.”

And that’s it. If you walk away from the PC with the paired device, Windows will wait about 30 seconds and then it will lock automatically. (You can test this by temporarily turning off Bluetooth on that device, by the way.)

The distance at which this happens appears to be based on the strength of the Bluetooth signal, as Bluetooth creates what’s called a personal area network that is short range by nature. But the time that it takes to cover that distance plus the 30-second delay means that Windows won’t lock immediately. And that could be a security issue, frankly.

Worse, Dynamic Lock doesn’t provide a way to select which Bluetooth device triggers the lock. So I’ve paired my FitBit and my phone, but if I walk away and leave my phone, it’s unclear whether it will still auto-lock. (My testing so far is inconclusive, and as you might imagine this is a bit tedious.)

So… What I’d like to see is a way to choose the device. And a way to change the 30-second timeout to something shorter. I suppose there is still time left for that to happen.

 

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Comments (20)

20 responses to “Hands-On with Windows 10 Dynamic Lock”

  1. Avatar

    5538

    I'd like to see some biometric add on for extra security. Say if your phone has a fingerprint reader the MS Authenticator app will popup asking you for your finger print. This would be useful for devices without a fingerprint reader but have a mobile device that has it. 

  2. Avatar

    6844

    It probably isn't supposed to supersede manually locking your PC. But when you forget to do that, then this will kick in.....there's the security benefit. I agree that this should lock the PC while you can see the device and no later.

    • Avatar

      1377

      In reply to kenhes:

      In a workplace setting, wouldn't shorter screensaver timeout periods with screen locking be sufficient?

      On another tangent, if one's phone is the lock/unlock device, what happens if the phone's battery dies? Presumably there's some NFC going on between PC and phone. How much battery power is it using on the phone?

      In the home setting, I don't see the point.

  3. Avatar

    10258

    Is dynamic lock also dynamic "unlock"? One of the features I enjoyed with Android was when it connected to my car's Bluetooth, it unlocked automatically.

    • Avatar

      6844

      In reply to tboggs13:

      That would be nice. Also, an added security feature could be not to unlock a PC without the Bluetooth device being nearby.

      • Avatar

        5539

        In reply to kenhes: Some are going to say that is unwieldy, having to have that device all the time, you get used to it. We've been using a Dual Factor system for almost a year, that requests a confirmation from you when you log in. It is set up on a single device, so you need to have it available. IT can override, but it becomes second nature pretty quickly.

         

  4. Avatar

    1454

    It would also be nice if they added to this the ability to unlock without password via these trusted devices. 

  5. Avatar

    214

    Yes, 30 seconds leaves a security window of opportunity. But larger auto-lock delays are common - very common; a testimony to the fact that users hate to repeatedly sign in. So I'd really like to see this accompanied by a matching "auto logon" feature, so users could walk away and return with less impact on workflow. That would be win-win.

    Just got a taste of this in my new car: it autosenses my fob and the handle locks and unlocks the door as needed. Good human factors.

  6. Avatar

    5539

    There is a lot that needs to be done to make this useful. There absolutely needs to be the option to choose which device is used for this. I have a BT keyboard and mouse. I rarely take those with me when I walk away. Phone may not go with me either, if I am going to the bathroom. (I know some of you take yours). BT can go a long way. If I don't take my phone with me, my Band will stay connected, down the hall, out the office spaces, and into the bathroom.  In an office environment, a Hello camera would make more sense. Once you have signed in with it, it could just look for continuous movement in near space or something, with periodic eye validation in the background. There need to be more of these cameras. Some that don't cost $200 would be nice.

  7. Avatar

    8051

    When I opened this article, I was thinking that this was adding on to "Windows Hello" functionality, but after reading, it sounds like this is just for locking and not unlocking.

  8. Avatar

    165

    If the delay in logging off is an issue, this is a good backup to manually locking...

    Would this wok with anything you pair via Bluetooth, like one of the tracker thingamabobs?

  9. Avatar

    2303

    Does this work with any Bluetooth device? Like, if I have Bluetooth headphones connected and turn them off (or their battery dies), my PC will lock?

    Also, can a single Bluetooth device be used with more than one PC?

  10. Avatar

    8578

    I recall using a third-party program that did something similar about 5 years ago. As I recall, it wasn't very reliable. In an environment where there was a security requirement to lock your computer when you walk away, this feature would have to be bullet proof to convince management to rely on it. 

  11. Avatar

    5215

    Neat.  The only PC in my house that has Bluetooth is an SP3.  I'm not sure what the BT range is, but I feel like I'd have to be leaving my house for this to go into effect.  That's kind of far to make it useful.

  12. Avatar

    abutaherali1994

    This would be useful for devices without a fingerprint reader but have a mobile device that has it. 

  13. Avatar

    5234

    A security issue, and a battery hog.  No thanks.

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