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Lenovo Service Disables Laptops With a Text Message

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the say-the-magic-word dept.

Security 257

narramissic writes "Lenovo plans to announce on Tuesday a service that allows users to remotely disable a PC by sending a text message. A user can send the command from a specified cell phone number — each ThinkPad can be paired with up to 10 cell phones — to kill a PC. The software will be available free from Lenovo's Web site. It will also be available on certain ThinkPad notebooks equipped with mobile broadband starting in the first half of 2009. 'You steal my PC and ... if I can deliver a signal to that PC that turns it off, hey, I'm good now,' said Stacy Cannady, product manager of security at Lenovo. 'The limitation here is that you have to have a WAN card in the PC and you must be paying a data plan for it,' Cannady added."

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257 comments

Interesting (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25884775)

Pretty interesting security feature but not if your buddies get a hold of your cell phone.

Re:Interesting (3, Informative)

sgbett (739519) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884789)

I think you need to find different friends

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885505)

I think you need to find different friends

I think almost everyone has an asshole "friend" that would pull a stunt like that.

Re:Interesting (3, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884913)

Hardly. You can regain access to the laptop just by typing in a recovery password.

Re:Interesting (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885281)

Or there's this "format the hard drive" thing and recover the data after a quick format (incredibly easy). Bios password locks are just as easy to bypass.

Really, this does nothing but enable you to be screwed if someone figures out the number.

I don't think the recovery is the issue here.

Re:Interesting (3, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885037)

Even if they don't, this gives a false sense of security.

"if I can deliver a signal to that PC that turns it off, hey, I'm good now." Um, no, you're not. The thief can remove the hard drive and connect it to another PC to read its content.

Re:Interesting (4, Informative)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885099)

Not if you're using the built-in hardware encryption, it can't.
And IBM are not going to give anyone a recovery password without proof of ownership.

Re:Interesting (3, Interesting)

efuzed (540985) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885215)

Not IBM; Lenovo, and will the Chinese government be able to now stop noisy bloggers better?

Re:Interesting (1, Troll)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885649)

The junk that steals my portable is not interested in my data. He is interested in selling the PC for a fix.

This is not about data protection. It is about making the device unusable. Just like you can block your phone when it is stolen.

It will not stop thiefs of stealing your device. It will not protect your data. As far as I read it does not even claim to do that.

Phreaking just got popular again (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25884781)

Gentleman, fire up your wardiallers
what could possibly go wrong ?

Re:Phreaking just got popular again (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884945)

A remotely accessible killswitch that could be fired even against the legitimate owner's consent... hey, isn't that exactly what Orrin Hatch has been requesting that the Righteous Inquisition Army of Autocrats be able to do to file sharers a few years back???

reinstall? (1)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884787)

and what happens if they just reinstall the OS?

Re:reinstall? (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884849)

TFA says the disabling is handled in the BIOS - so it would be independent of the OS.

Shared responsibility (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884921)

TFA says the disabling is handled in the BIOS - so it would be independent of the OS.

The "I'm dead" bit is in the BIOS, but the trigger is in the operating system. For many good and sufficient reasons, they can't have the BIOS hogging the wireless 100% of the time.

Re:Shared responsibility (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885005)

Where does it say the trigger is in the OS? It would make less sense to do it that way, since you'd have to write a new driver for each OS. Since TFA says "Phoenix Technologies, developed this security feature and embedded the technology within the notebookâ(TM)s BIOS" I would assume that means it is OS independent.

Why do you think the BIOS would hog the wireless 100% of the time? The architecture would obviously be interrupt driven - the BIOS doesn't hog any other piece of hardware whilst waiting for an event.

You _do_ know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885357)

That most intelligent OSes do _not_ use the BIOS, don't you?
Like, Linux/BSD/MacOSX... they all bypass the BIOS. Once the laptop has booted, no BIOS code is ever executed again?!

Re:Shared responsibility (2, Informative)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885381)

If you think Phoenix is that smart, well I have a bunch of bridges to sell you.

This isn't the first security gimmick they've deployed. They've had the internet version of this sort of thing for years now (Computrace / Lojack). It's a software client that runs in the taskbar, Windows-only, that triggers the BIOS kill bit.

I wouldn't be surprised if this "new" cell-based feature were just a new client app working with the same kill bit as the old ones. That makes it easier to develop and deploy, since it would only require trivial changes in the BIOS code that can be implemented on any machine, regardless of vintage.

Re:reinstall? (2, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884927)

Of course it requires the use of a cellular network. That means that if the would-be thief really wants to steal your notebook with data intact, all he or she needs to do is either A) pull out the cellular card or B) if the cellular card is built-in, encase the laptop in a carefully-crafted metal box to designed to block the cell signal.

Either way, it's only a deterrent to people who don't know what they're doing.

Re:reinstall? (3, Funny)

NovaHorizon (1300173) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885147)

and dismantling the entire laptop to reset the BIOS is actually FASTER than an OS reinstall..

Useless (2, Insightful)

mentaldingo (967181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884793)

Things a thief can still do:

  • Jammers
  • Reflash the BIOS
  • Remove the GSM chip
  • Or if they're after your data, open it up and take out the HDD

Honestly, this is completely useless against even a moderately sophisticated thief.

Re:Useless (2, Insightful)

sgbett (739519) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884867)

Depends what you mean by useless.

Having been in this position, the thing that bother me is not the material loss of the laptop (though It would be nice to know they stole junk) but the data contained on it. So long as your drive is encrypted, then this thing is a bonus

Re:Useless (2, Funny)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885087)

While it may be some comfort that ones encrypted data gets to stay secret, and this might be enough for many, I'm on the side of the fence where I'd want to tasar the theif, in the neck, in the guts, in the arm pits, in the groin, in the mouth, and so on and so forth. Even if it is just a crappy old work laptop.

Maybe there's some way to rig it up so that the phone call can activate a bit of a hot power button, push it and it triggers the zapping goodness.

Re:Useless (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885423)

I realize I'm the most jaded guy on /. but do you honestly believe the average laptop thief cares about your data ?

These aren't corporate spies, these are half-brained teenagers and/or urban trash who probably run home, hook it up to the internet and hit MySpace to tell all their peeps about their "new" laptop.

Hanlon said it best: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

Re:Useless (5, Interesting)

chrb (1083577) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884883)

The vast majority of thieves aren't even going to realise that this service is enabled. They certainly won't be deploying GPS jammers or reflashing the BIOS or opening the laptop up. And TFA article mentions that the whole point is to protect data by allowing users to shutdown access to an encrypted HDD that might still be open.

Re:Useless (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884953)

Thieves typically dont have the IQ to do any of that. When I was robbed, we nailed the thief not only from the video cameras that he looked right at to give us a awesome face shot, but he stole my daughters cellphone. He left it on all the time reporting his position. The cops had his ass in less than 24 hours.

Honestly thieves barely know how to use a screwdriver outside of prying a door or window with it. You seriously think one would do the delicate task of opening a laptop or flashing the bios? That's plain old funny.

Re:Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885209)

If this sort of feature becomes common, you can bet they'll get around it.

Car alarms used to actually do something; now, thieves can disable them fast enough to steal cars. Same thing with car keys - hotwiring is a common skill in the underworld, despite any IQ disadvantages.

Re:Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885323)

he stole my daughters cellphone. He left it on all the time reporting his position. The cops had his ass in less than 24 hours.

You don't live in Sweden, do you? The cops here don't bother with a thief even if they are given his name, social security number and GPS coordinates. They don't even bother stopping a car thief unless it's a politician's car. Personal experience...

Re:Useless (5, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885443)

Thieves typically dont have the IQ to do any of that.

Remember, there are two kinds of thieves. There are amateurs and there are pros.

Amateurs are desperate people, usually because of an addiction of some sort, who steal whenever an opportunity presents itself. They see a car with an unlocked door, or an open window and they act. These people are the most common type of thieves, and will be caught with this technology.

Professionals steal things for a living. They are very calculated and know all of the security measures people use, and how to avoid them. This technology will not stop a professional. In fact, nothing will stop a professional. Professionals are why you buy insurance.

Fortunately, there aren't many professional thieves. When you think about it, it's very difficult to become a professional thief. This is because a pro cannot be desperate. They need to have time to study their target and come up with a plan of attack. This requires a person with a certain personality, that doesn't steal out of last resort, but steals for some other reason. There aren't many people like this in the world, and most of them are caught before they become very good at stealing.

My favorite piece of information about stopping thieves can be found here. [hulu.com] (Warning, link contains flash video)

Re:Useless (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885527)

A thief that steals a laptop because it is a laptop is going to be an idiot, yes. But, a thief who steals a laptop because it is your laptop and he is interested in the data(and knows what to do with it) would most likely be able to flash the BIOS.

This isn't meant to protect against the smash and grab thief.

The guy who stole your laptop wouldn't know what to do with your information even if it was sitting in front of him. But, if he was smart enough to know that, perhaps he could sell it to someone with a little more knowledge who would know what to do with it.

Re:Useless (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885321)

Yeah, but the important thing is that the cell modem providers are making money, which was no doubt the intention of this whole security plan all along.

Re:Useless (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885471)

Yeah, but the important thing is that the cell modem providers are making money, which was no doubt the intention of this whole security plan all along.

What's worse is that TFS implies you use SMS messages to disable the laptop. For those of you that have been keeping track, SMS isn't covered under data plans on the US carriers I've used. It's billed separately, and is less expensive assuming you only need the ability to send/receive a single text message.

how long till... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25884799)

someone figures out the "secret" signal to send to a PC to disable it?

Superficial? (1)

DigitalisAkujin (846133) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884801)

How exactly are they disabling the laptop? It can't be something superficial but with the amount of time a program has to work it probably has to be superficial to work. Will a program have enough time to do anything more then clear the cmos or erase the drive mbr? Even if it's a hardware disable the whole thing becomes parts worthy and the data on the hard drive essentially remains in it's entirety.

Re:Superficial? (2, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884905)

The shutdown is supposed to be utilised with hard disk encryption - the whole point is that your data is better protected. The disabling is carried out by the BIOS; presumably it checks the disable bit before booting the OS and allows the legal user to enter a recovery password.

of course (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884809)

it would NEVER make sense to part out their new brick into say a cheap display, harddisk, dvd drive, ram, cpu, etc. on ebay.

Re:of course (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885233)

True enough, but my impression is that most thieves are not yet this sophisticated.

(More, the intent of the feature seems to be disabling access to secure data more than it is theft deterrence)

Re:of course (2, Insightful)

crimperman (225941) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885581)

what makes you think they wouldn't just put the dead laptop itself on eBay? They claim it is "recently untested but worked a while ago" and some sucker buys it. I mean we're not talking about honest people here are we?

To the guy who just stole my laptop... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884811)

I've got a pretty good idea what that message would likely be. Or at least the general sentiments expressed (hopefully on the screen) right before its tiny heart goes pfft.

Hmmm (3, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884815)

My normal Slashdot cynicism wants to find a problem with this technology, but I can't so far, other than that a smart thief would just make sure to remove the WAN card and flash the BIOS (possibly with a new serial number or the remote disable, uh, disabled).

You win this time, Lenovo. *shakes fist*

How to beat this idea... (0)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884835)

Steal the laptop, remove the WAN card before turning it on, and go to hack forum to find out how to remove or disable the process that makes this killswitch possible. Only slightly inconvenient.

Re:How to beat this idea... (1)

Veamon (733329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885217)

Hell, just use ghost or acronis, save it as in image, and restore it inside vmware. fail

Implementation? (2, Interesting)

number17 (952777) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884845)

The article is pretty slim on how this is actually going to work. Do I assume that I make the phone call once and Lenovo will constantly try to connect with it until it is successful? If not, how many times do I call it until I cut off my data plan?

I would like to be able to turn this off in the future when attempting to sell the laptop as well.

Re:Implementation? (4, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884957)

It looks like the disable is handled in the BIOS, so either the GPS hardware is capable of receiving SMS texts while the laptop is hibernating, or the text is received when the BIOS boots up. Either way, you just have to send one text - your cell network provider will store and forward it to the receiver, it's just a regular text.

Meh... (4, Funny)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884853)

This would excite me more if I could send a remote command that would detonate a small brick of C4 in the laptop. Why disable the computer when you can disable the thief?

Re:Meh... (2, Insightful)

mentaldingo (967181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884873)

You could always mod your laptop to generate a spark when the kill signal is received. Then all you need to do is pack it with C4.

Re:Meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885205)

...Only to find it was your little brother borrowing your laptop to work on a school project *BOOM!* Then again, he must have deserved it then.

Re:Meh... (4, Funny)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885435)

"You could always mod your laptop to generate a spark when the kill signal is received. Then all you need to do is pack it with C4."

So much for being allowed to carry lappies on airliners, thank you very much! :)

Re:Meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885607)

You don't need C4 for this. Some kind of remotely actuated solenoid to short out the battery posts combined with a bit of thermite would be much more entertaining.

Re:Meh... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885035)

You were probably going for the (+5, Funny), but seriously, how long before this is classified as a "terrorist threat"?

Re:Meh... (1)

Coolpup (796096) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885137)

That is going to make it slightly difficult to travel by air, which is where most laptops are lost/stolen anyway. Thus, partially eliminating the need for the C4 brick.

Re:Meh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885197)

I doubt the TSA would notice... they're probably busy looking at old men's shoes and young ladies' xrays.

Re:Meh... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885557)

I think someone has thought of the same basic concept before [bash.org] . Personally I wouldn't want to have a bomb ready to go off at any time on my lap, the C4 is relatively stable but the detonator really isn't and would have to be in place. A spark, a battery on fire and boom goes you. The collateral damage could be pretty nasty too, even if the charge is small. If you want the James Bond solution, I'd go with poisonous darts on the front, open it up and you get a nasty surprise. That way you can carry an antidote in case of malfunction, plus the laptop is unharmed and can be returned to you. Well maybe, after a friendly chat with the local police.

Always assuming ... (2)

overshoot (39700) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884877)

that the thief doesn't reimage the thing first off.

It's like the "LoJack for Laptops" that they'll sell you -- strictly part of the installed Microsoft setup.

Re:Always assuming ... (1)

mentaldingo (967181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884895)

The killswitch is implemented in the BIOS. Reflashing that is somewhat more difficult than just wiping the disk and installing an OS.

Re:Always assuming ... (5, Informative)

RMingin (985478) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885165)

Yes, it'll probably be as secure as the Lenovo BIOS supervisor passwords.

(Hint: Supervisor password? Get a paperclip. The data pin goes to ground, boot laptop. Enter bios. Remove paperclip, set [new] supervisor password. It overwrites the old one. Which chip to mess with and which pins are which I leave to you and Google. Shouldn't take long.)

Hmm (2, Insightful)

saintm (142527) | more than 5 years ago | (#25884909)

'You steal my PC and ... if I can deliver a signal to that PC that turns it off, hey, I'm good now,'

Apart from not having a laptop or your data anymore.

I'm not sure that can be described as being 'good'.

Re:Hmm (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885289)

'You steal my PC and ... if I can deliver a signal to that PC that turns it off, hey, I'm good now,'

Apart from not having a laptop or your data anymore.

I'm not sure that can be described as being 'good'.

Depends on your definition of good. Losing your laptop means 3 things:

1. loss of the hardware, so you need to buy a new one
2. loss of the data - I hope you made a backup
3. the value of the data to someone else

This remote kill service only resolves problem #3, but you can insure against problem #1, and if you have cellular broadband on the laptop backups are reasonably easy.

Some of the spectacular data thefts have involved problem #3, so there is a market for this kind of thing. Personally, I prefer RSA key dongles and encryption.

Incidentally, Dell offers a similar remote kill laptop service.

Re:Hmm (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885683)

"I'm not sure that can be described as being 'good'."

No, you're right, instead of shutting down the laptop, Lenovo should have put in telescopic legs with wheels on the bottom so that it could make its way home to its rightful owner.

Nice till ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25884955)

... your best enemy learns about caller ID spoofing.

Don't disable it, track it! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885019)

This is stupid, disabling the device will only cause either physical attempts to remove the protections (bad for the hardware if done improperly) or disposing of the laptop in the first dumpster. The owner gets nothing.

I think the best idea is to start tracking the laptop. Send out GPS coordinates, send out IP addresses, send out _fingerprints_, take screen shots, etc.

Wait, What? (4, Insightful)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885033)

So you're telling me there will be a GSM module in the laptop that is constantly connecting to my network to wait for such a kill signal? Like say, a tracing bug? I know it'll be a pain for the thief but what about me? What a craptacular idea. Having my laptop become my personal GSM tracking device. Where have I been? Wait lets ask my "anti theft"-device.

Re:Wait, What? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885371)

So you're telling me there will be a GSM module in the laptop that is constantly connecting to my network to wait for such a kill signal? Like say, a tracing bug?

Better put on your tinfoil hat - here's something you don't know: the cellular network knows where devices on the cellular network are and which cellular towers the devices are talking to. That is how the cellular network knows to send your phone calls to your phone.

Also, it's not your network - it's the cellphone company's network.

Having my laptop become my personal GSM tracking device. Where have I been? Wait lets ask my "anti theft"-device.

There is a big difference between a GSM device and a GPS device. The laptop doesn't know where it is, the cellular network knows where the laptop is.

And most people already have a tracking device - it's called a cell phone. Many cell phone companies already offer a tracking service for parents/employers to see where the phones are.

Re:Wait, What? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885615)

I am sure that if the government wanted to track you, they would use your cell phone which is on GSM/CDMA network nearly-100% of the time, or iPhone which has the added flexibility of GPS. If you are the type of person to care about you being tracked here or there, than don't purchase a Lenovo laptop with this feature.

However what all the tin-foil crowd seems to forget is one fact: No one cares about 99.999% of you to date you, much less follow your every movement. Especially a Chinese laptop manufacturer.

I would figure you would support this, since your super secret, AES-256 encrypted collection of blurry UFO pictures could be safe from the prying eyes of Joe the Laptop Thief.

some kind of revenge system. (1)

Jessta (666101) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885043)

Seems to be some kind of revenge system.
"hey you stole my laptop, so now I've made it useless"
This doesn't prevent theft and because it's not likely to be the default behaviour of the laptop it doesn't even discourage theft.

Re:some kind of revenge system. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885117)

Exactly. For it to be effective, it would have to be foolproof, and the crook would have to -know- it would happen before he considered stealing it.

The first is impossible. Since the first is impossible, the second would tell the thief exactly what he needed to do to steal the laptop successfully.

Ugh.

Re:some kind of revenge system. (2, Informative)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885183)

It's not meant to discourage theft, it's meant to protect your data.

If the HDD is encrypted, you can lock the thief out.

Re:some kind of revenge system. (1, Interesting)

Aphoxema (1088507) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885543)

Yeah, malice towards the 'thief' really pisses me off. I can understand businesses wanting to protect their private information (which they can accomplish with encryption), but this idea of "If I can't have it then no one can" is just ridiculous.

I've had things stolen from me, nice expensive things, but my reaction was never once anger, never feeling I need to chase down the thief and kick their asses. It was, "Oh well, tough shit, life goes on and I hope they do something meaningful with what they took."

A waste of any resource is a crime against humanity.

LEGO? (1)

shivamib (1034310) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885055)

Duh, I read the summary as Lego novo service disables laptops with a text message

Well, back to the brute-force approach, minions. Go for the outlet! Go!

Awesome!!!!!! (1)

decalod85 (1214532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885075)

Is there a laughing animated skull on the screen when this goes off? If aliens stole your laptop, would it shut down their computer network, shields, and weapon systems? Do I need Jeff Goldblum to configure it for me?

not only thing wrong with this... (2, Insightful)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885133)

The network card is not the only thing that is wrong with this, the fact that you now turned off the machine, states the machine will not turn back on...to give you a location of where it is.
Someone will open it up...change the network card with another...or just add a usb one...and there you go...problem solved.

Someone hacks the disable and .... bzzt.... (1)

ACK!! (10229) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885139)

I can see the funny hacks on this where some numbnut starts sending the disable code to everyone's laptop in the room. Sounds cute but ain't practical. Track it? Practical. Disable it? Limited use.

Lojack it instead (1)

jassa (1092003) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885151)

I would have thought it'd be more sensible to just have some sort of lojack equivilent. It'd be much more useful - you could find & recover your laptop (hopefully with your data still on it) and probably locate the criminal as well.

Most criminals are stupid anyway (3, Insightful)

hellion0 (1414989) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885163)

This feature doesn't seem to be aimed at stopping blackhats or organized criminals, two of the more "intelligent" varieties. No, this thing is meant to royally screw Joe Crackhead.

The feature doesn't appear as if it's ever going to stop a sophisticated high-tech criminal, naturally. Nor does this seem the intent. Identity thieves and data miners don't even need possession of the laptop, so no good there. Even then, the new feature is easily defeated. Organized criminals tend to know what they're doing as well, and any safety measure can be defeated by competence and planning. Still, they're both rare enough.

No, this sounds perfect for the two-bit junkie, the most common of criminals. Brick the laptop, especially remotely, and suddenly it's worthless for him to offload for his fix.

Better things to do than shutdown (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885203)

How about a text message that causes the system to monitor the cameras output until it detects a face, takes a picture. Monitors the fingerprint sensor (if one is present) and waits for a fingerprint and then gets it gps position and finally sends email to 911@-current county-.gov

What happens if someone steals the cellphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885269)

Is that a new kind of denial of service?

Perfect. (4, Funny)

GWLlosa (800011) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885291)

This is exactly what we need in terms of laptop security. To you nay-sayers out there spinning doom and gloom scenarios about friends pranking your laptop with text messages, I can only assume that there is some secret passcode that you must send as part of the text-message to disable the machine. In fact, it should be convoluted, and hard to remember. Fortunately, as the proud owner of a brand-new Lenovo laptop, you can keep information like that stored right on the laptop, which you take everywhere.

Nice DoS attack vector (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885311)

So, as long as I know your cellphone number, I can remotely disable your laptop. Nice!

(n.b. it's easy to send a text message with a forged number as the sender, it's part of the message, comparable to the 'from' header in an email)

DIY (4, Interesting)

wytcld (179112) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885413)

How about setting up a simple script that periodically polls a remote site - say a web page under your control? If it can't reach it, or it reaches it and gets a default response, no action's taken. If on the other hand the page returns an innocuous looking kill code, a small program is run that disables the BIOS? On the server side, you'd be mailed the IP your stolen laptop connected from, which might give you some location info.

Caller-ID (1)

mnordstr (472213) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885425)

I hope they are not using caller-id to "pair" the devices... Actually, that might be kinda fun :)

Even better (4, Funny)

horza (87255) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885449)

Why not install Windows Vista, iTunes and the game Spore. That way you don't even need to send an SMS, just wait until code is activated progressively making the computer useless.

Phillip.

Why des this require "special" software? (0, Troll)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25885491)

write a script so anytime your laptop connects automatically reports its ip to a home machine

if your laptop is stolen, wait for it to connect, then ssh to it and do 'rm -rf /', or maybe `dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/[s|h]hda`. Or for that matter, anything else you want, like perhaps instead of disabling it, monitor what the thief does with it, assuming he can get around the login prompt.

(Oh, what? Oh, this is for laptops running that toy OS platform that only the ignorant masses and corporate sycophants use? Oh, nevermind then. they are stupid enough to actually *pay* for a service like this - go ahead and make money off them - but I wonder, why post news about something like this to a site intended for non-morons?)

Re:Why des this require "special" software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885669)

how about biases asshats? Tech is tech. Some good some bad. Happens that the same can be said for users some good some bad. People in general some good some asshats like yourself.

Use the Accelerometer (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885501)

While of course this won't stop everyone stealing laptops out there, it might help in conjunction with the other antitheft devices like Kensington locks (but they are easily broken), and the alarm software that uses the accelerometer (http://www.musatcha.com/software/LaptopTheftPrevention/)

caller id spoofing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25885551)

Couple this technology with the "caller id spoofing" company that's been mentioned here a few times and you have an interesting situation!

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