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Gatekeeper Two-Factor Authentication review: Needs a consumer-grade overhaul


Securing your PC with more than just a PIN or password is easy with Windows Hello’s biometric logins; however, not every PC has the hardware to use it and some users just don’t want to store their fingerprint or have their iris scanned by Windows 10, no matter what the privacy promises are.

Enter the Gatekeeper Wireless Security Key from Untethered Labs. This Bluetooth system works as a one-touch login for your PCs, as well as a password manager that also stores your one-time password codes for two-factor authentication.

It sounds great, but in my opinion this product just isn’t ready for consumers. It was originally designed for enterprises, and instead of modifying it for the consumer market Untethered is offering the same product to the lanyard-less masses. The end result is that Gatekeeper has some trade-offs for home users and just isn’t a practical tool for most people. 

First, don’t mistake Gatekeeper as an alternative to devices like the Yubikey. Gatekeeper is more limited as a two-factor authentication device since it does not support FIDO2 one-touch logins for websites. That may never change as Gatekeeper doesn’t store information the way something like Yubikey does. All critical information remains secured on the PC instead.

The system

gatekeeperdesktop1 IDG

The primary dashboard for the Gatekeeper client.

Gatekeeper has three primary components: the Bluetooth key fob called the Halberd, a low-profile USB Bluetooth sensor, and the Gatekeeper client software. There’s also a password manager browser extension for Chrome and Firefox.

The Halberd runs on a CR2450, 3-volt battery, while the Bluetooth sensor is powered by the PC.

Gatekeeper manages logins via the desktop software, and setup is a relative snap. The one issue I have is that the desktop software uses enterprise language that may be hard for some people to understand. You have to choose between a local or domain  account, for example. Either will work based on our tests, but local is the easiest choice for most users.

The rest of the setup is a simple case of choosing a PIN and connecting the Halberd to the desktop software. The Halberd can be used on multiple PCs, though each will need a Bluetooth sensor.

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