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Another Stab at Laptop Security

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the wonder-if-it's-linux-friendly dept.

Security 316

kogus writes "LoJack is licensing its brand name to Absolute Software, which provides Computrace -- soon to be known as the 'LoJack for Laptops' line of computer theft recovery systems. When a stolen Computrace-equipped system is connected to the Internet, it automatically and silently sends locating data to Absolute Software, which then calls out the law. In some cases, Absolute Software customers are eligible for a $1,000 guarantee payment when a stolen system is not recovered within 60 days.

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Yay (3, Funny)

Nick of NSTime (597712) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998154)

My PowerBook cost more than $1000.

huh? (4, Funny)

zoloto (586738) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998199)

...you insensitive clod???

Re:Yay (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998223)

So? How much would you be getting back if it was stolen and uninsured?

Re:Yay (1)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998369)

well, then you're pooched. Sorry. :P

Agreed. (1)

Pepsiaddict (897824) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998434)

$1000 would in no way compensate my for my $2700 17" Powerbook.

woulda read it... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998160)

but I resent websites that demand personal information before they let me read the story...

Re:woulda read it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998184)

Just wait 15 seconds, the box clears on its own.

Re:woulda read it... (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998198)

You could just click the "close form" link in the upper right of that information request. It wasn't a demand, just a very obtrusive request.

Re:woulda read it... (1)

Paolo DF (849424) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998203)

well, it is aligned with the policy of the content of the article...

Re:woulda read it... (1)

Incongruity (70416) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998208)

Hmm... for me, the first time I clicked through the link it quickly refreshed and asked me for my email address or login, yaddda yadda, but when I clicked on the link again, after having closed the first window, I got to the story without any trouble. your mileage may vary... -t

Re:woulda read it... (2, Informative)

dan dan the dna man (461768) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998217)

Except the website doesn't demand personal information before they let you read the story. Which story were you clicking on?

Have TFA anyway, if it makes you feeel any better

LoJack for Your Computer

By Michael Jaffe
July 6, 2005

Last week, LoJack (Nasdaq: LOJN) announced the dawning of a new era in data recovery.

What? Is the groundbreaking gorilla of stolen vehicle recovery committing Peter Lynch's cardinal sin of deworsification into the unrelated field of hard-drive hacking? Not really.

LoJack is licensing its brand name to Absolute Software, which provides Computrace -- soon to be known as the "LoJack for Laptops" line of computer theft recovery systems. When a stolen Computrace-equipped system is connected to the Internet, it automatically and silently sends locating data to Absolute Software, which then calls out the law. In some cases, Absolute Software customers are eligible for a $1,000 guarantee payment when a stolen system is not recovered within 60 days.

In my opinion, LoJack investors should be pleased for at least two reasons. First, without committing any capital or assets, LoJack is collecting a licensing fee, as well as warrants to purchase 500,000 shares of Absolute Software, with a $2 per-share exercise price. Assuming that LoJack can capitalize on its option to buy shares profitably (Absolute Software shares are trading at around $2 each), LoJack investors might be looking at the elusive free lunch. As long as Absolute Software delivers on quality control and customer service, thereby maintaining its reputation, downside risk is relatively limited.

Second, and more importantly, the LoJack brand name is gaining free exposure in the laptop market, catering to a higher-middle-income individual and business population, which happens to be a major segment of LoJack's automotive target customer base. Ostensibly, LoJack's status as a recognized brand and market leader in its field stands to be confirmed and enhanced. If companies take note (and mass appeal exists), there might be more licensing revenue to come.

To be sure, in a business that depends on brand awareness and customer confidence, a deal like this carries tempered risks because a company's brand equity is tantamount to the success or failure of a product. That said, successful licensing also offers the possibility for even greater rewards.

Want valuable nuggets on small-cap investing with a potential for mythic returns? Spend your magic bean money on a subscription to the Motley Fool Hidden Gems newsletter.

Fool contributor Michael Jaffe owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Click here to see The Motley Fool's disclosure policy. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

Popup annoyance. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998231)


It was a stupid popup. Just close it and read the article.

The AdBlock and FlashBlock extensions to Firefox are excellent, but somehow that site found a way around them.

--
Bush lied. 100,000 died. Violence & lying show a lack of social sophistication.

Not secure at all. (4, Interesting)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998176)


From TFA:
When a stolen Computrace-equipped system is connected to the Internet, it automatically and silently sends locating data to Absolute Software, which then calls out the law.

Unless you:
  • Block the outgoing signal with a firewall,
    and/or
  • Wipe the drive, removing the Computrace software.

    Nice illusion of security....wonder how many people will fall for it.

Re:Not secure at all. (2)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998243)

Yeah, but it's still silent! Unless you're some strange mutant person. In that case, get earplugs.

Re:Not secure at all. (2, Informative)

cosinezero (833532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998263)

Likely this would be on firmware; wiping the drive would be pointless (and probably past the abilities of most crackheads anyways - wiping the drives means a reinstall before resell). Blocking outgoing traffic on a possibly random port with a firewall isn't as easy to do as you'd think.

Re:Not secure at all. (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998303)


It sure as hell is. You block everything except the few things you know you need or want. Most Win32 home firewalls also allow you to block specific applications.

It's rather trivial, actually.

And anybody who's going to swipe a laptop will probably wipe the drive with a reinstall because they won't be able to log into the system to poke around (unless they intend on hacking the login; again a rather trivial task once you have physical possession).

Re:Not secure at all. (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998401)

It's rather trivial, actually.

Of course, the "phone home" message could be a garden variety http/s request. So unless you setup your firewall to deliberately block your own web access....

It's rather trivial, actually.

Re:Not secure at all. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998307)

Blocking outgoing traffic on a possibly random port with a firewall isn't as easy to do as you'd think.

Nah, it's easy. Just set Inside Any -> Outside Any -> Service Any -> Deny and hit then add it ^&^&^&$&%&^[NO CARRIER]

Mod AC parent up :) (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998351)

This, people, is why you shouldn't try every step of the instructions you recommend to people :)

Re:Not secure at all. (4, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998315)


Here's a snippet from their website [absolute.com] :
Computrace Agent
The Computrace agent is a small, software client that resides on the hard drive of host computers and enables Absolute's services. Easy to install and unobtrusive to the end-user, the agent requires minimal bandwidth in its communications to the Monitor Center.
Doesn't look like it's on firmware to me...

Re:Not secure at all. (2, Interesting)

cosinezero (833532) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998395)

What's the likelihood it will become firmware once wireless manufacturers hear about it? Think about it...

Re:Not secure at all. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998462)

it sits on the MBR of the HDD

you just fdisk /mbr or run grub/lilo and it kills it.

Re:Not secure at all. (1)

imaginieus (897756) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998271)

Its not a perfect system, but its not like the computer has a sticker saying "Protected by Computrace Software". I bet the vast majority of thieves wouldnt even think about wiping the hard drive or setting up a firewall.

Re:Not secure at all. (1)

chrome (3506) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998285)

I suspect it isn't intended for people concerned just about losing the hardware, but actually the data that is on the machine.

If someone steals a machine with the intent to stealing confidential information (god knows what people store on their laptops these days) then this sytem might be worth the money.

Regardless of intended use its more likely that someone in this line of espionage would know about this software and have a disconnected LAN they can use to dissect the machine on, and if its just simple theft, I suspect most thieves these days don't even bother to boot the machine and rather they just wipe it or ghost it so it can be resold quickly, like you say.

So, yeah, pretty much an illusion of security. Marginal at least.

Re:Not secure at all. (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998332)

If someone steals a machine with the intent to stealing confidential information (god knows what people store on their laptops these days) then this sytem might be worth the money.

How do you figure? All I have to do is dump the data while airgapped. Problem solved.

Re:Not secure at all. (1)

chrome (3506) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998368)

I know nothing of this airgapping of which you speak... :)

Don't forget the 'might'.

Like I said, I'm not convinced.

Then worry about the data, not the hardware (2, Informative)

sterno (16320) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998335)

If you're worried about the data, then you should protect that, not the hardware. Have the system thoroughly encrypted locked to biometric data. Then have it keep back ups of critical data on a secure remote server. Then if you're laptop gets stolen, no big deal, they can't get the data and you've not lost much.

Re:Not secure at all. (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998293)

Well, how many thieves will have the knowledge necessary to block and wipe the related software? Not too many.

While no half-competent crook will let himself be caught this way, all that counts is whether (price_of_Computrace)/(probability_of_laptop_being _stolen)<$1000.

Re:Not secure at all. (3, Insightful)

GrBear (63712) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998375)


Nice illusion of security....wonder how many people will fall for it.

- How many corporations continue to run MS IIS to drive their corporate websites?

- How many people continue to run IE?

- How many people continue to run Windows and download the latest spyware infected software because it's trendy, even after they've had their computers infected countless times?

Your right, security is an illusion, and some people prefer to turn a blind eye rather than look at the root cause.

manufacturers (5, Funny)

JimmyJava (774754) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998183)

should build this into the hardware or the bios. i know if i stole a computer i wouldn't be in a rush to plug into the internet. unless of course it's a windows machine, in which case i've got a good solid 12 minutes to play around with it.

Re:manufacturers (1)

inexplicable_fool (897497) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998252)

Yeah, but Jo-sixpack's probably not going to think of that. I don't think most of the people that swipe laptops on trains/in airports are regualr /.'ers. They'll probably just sell it on without touching it. So there's certainly a fair chance that someone somewhere will f**k up and get caught. God knows it happens enough!

Re:manufacturers (1)

Nohea (142708) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998338)

No they shouldn't - if i had one in a laptop, i don't want people i don't know tracking my movements. My car too (ok i buy used).

Most Stolen Laptops are stripped within minutes (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998187)

The bastards have even developed very tiny cinder blocks which they leave the empty laptop skeletons propped on.

Re:Most Stolen Laptops are stripped within minutes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998333)

I bet he lives in Essex

software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998188)

If I were to steal a laptop, the first thing I would do would be to format it if i could. I hope this isn't a software solution. If it was a hardware solution, it would seem likely that it would be so expensive it would probally ofset the cost of the laptop. (hardware to phone home... am I stolen?) + monthly fee.

Re:software? (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998360)


Again, here's a snippet from their website [absolute.com] :
Computrace Agent
The Computrace agent is a small, software client that resides on the hard drive of host computers and enables Absolute's services. Easy to install and unobtrusive to the end-user, the agent requires minimal bandwidth in its communications to the Monitor Center.
It's looking a lot like software...

Who posted this crap anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998191)

Link is bad. I hate this.

Maybe I'm a little high, but... (2, Funny)

inkdesign (7389) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998194)

Is the groundbreaking gorilla of stolen vehicle recovery committing Peter Lynch's cardinal sin of deworsification into the unrelated field of hard-drive hacking?

...could this perhaps use a little dewordification?

Re:Maybe I'm a little high, but... (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998464)

I think "deworsification" is supposed to be like "diversification" but pointless. e.g. if your local doughnut shop started carrying roofing tiles.

what happens? (2, Interesting)

Mo B. Dick (100537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998195)

If the person who steals the computer just reformats the hard drive?

Re:what happens? (1)

Valiss (463641) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998294)

Then the laptop owner gets a grand.

Frist post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998196)

yeah!

Ah... (3, Interesting)

HillaryWBush (882804) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998200)

1. Purchase $500 laptop
2. Purchase $100 security
3. Purchase $100 spyware remover
4. "Lose" laptop
5. Wait 60 days
6. Profit $300 for 60 days work
7. GOTO 1 (I never spaced lines by 10, what was up with that)

Re:Ah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998242)

LOL, what? That makes no sense, and if it even works, it's too much work for too little reward.

Re:Ah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998245)

What if you want to add another line between lines 3 and 4 and you have 1000 lines of code? Are you really going to relabel ~1000 lines code? With increments of 10 you can easily slide a new line of code in between them.

Re:Ah... (1)

Paolo DF (849424) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998248)

I like spacing by 10, it gives to me that feeling I can insert other lines.
That is, BTW what I ususlly did

Re:Ah... (1)

mallardtheduck (760315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998262)

I never spaced lines by 10, what was up with that
That was so you could insert extra lines between the ones you already had in the pre-screen-editor period. RENUMBER would also conviently space all lines by 10 for this purpose.

Re:Ah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998270)

Your plan seems pretty good, but it's missing something. Looks like you forgot the "????" step.

I'll just insert it between lines 50 and 60...

Re:Ah... (0)

kesuki (321456) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998278)

(I never spaced lines by 10, what was up with that)

It was for debugging, the 0 column was perfect for sliding your finger down the page of printed code.

Re:Ah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998308)

You're gonna have problems with those periods anyway. Replace with : or you will get a syntax error on line 1.

God I suck.

Dissapointed (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998372)

God I suck

I always thought God could get better than a /. nerd...

Re:Ah... (1)

rudydog (890388) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998399)

Never use go to it should be like this.

While(1) { 1. Purchase $500 laptop 2. Purchase $100 security 3. Purchase $100 spyware remover 4. "Lose" laptop 5. Wait 60 days 6. Profit $300 for 60 days work }

Re:Ah... (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998442)

You spaced the lines by 10 in case you had to add more lines of code without rewriting everything that you'd already written after that point.

For example, if you'd written:

1. Purchase $500 laptop
2. Purchase $100 security
3. Purchase $100 spyware remover
4. Wait 60 days
5. Profit $300 for 60 days work
6. GOTO 1

You'd have to add line 4, the "lose" laptop option. Then you'd have to rewrite lines 5 and 6 then add line 7.

On the other hand, if you'd written:
10. Purchase $500 laptop
20. Purchase $100 security
30. Purchase $100 spyware remover
40. Wait 60 days
50. Profit $300 for 60 days work
60. GOTO 10

You could just enter: 35. "lose" laptop. Less muss, less fuss.

Questions (2, Interesting)

yuriismaster (776296) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998205)

How would one report if a laptop is stolen? How easy would it be for a thief to remove this after stealing said laptop (before connecting it to the computer)? How will the law know where to go (geographic IP location can't be THAT accurate, can it?) How much of a performance hit will this add to normal use?

Locating Data (1)

jerw134 (409531) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998206)

I'm curious as to what kind of locating data it gathers, and how it gathers it. Seeing as this is just a software package, I can't imagine it can go much farther than an IP address.

Re:Locating Data (1)

Ooblek (544753) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998321)

I got the inside track on this. Here is a sample of the data chatter from a stolen notebook to the LOJack server:

<LOJACK_Loc_DATA>HELP ME!!!!</LOJACK_Loc_DATA>
<LOJACK_Loc_DATA_Response>What seems to be the problem?</LOJACK_Loc_DATA_Response>
<LOJACK_Loc_DATA>I've fallen....AND I CAN'T GET UP!!!</LOJACK_Loc_DATA>
<LOJACK_Loc_DATA_Response>Where are you? Can you describe your location?</LOJACK_Loc_DATA_Response>
<LOJACK_Loc_DATA>HELP ME!!!!</LOJACK_Loc_DATA>
<LOJACK_Loc_DATA_Response>Yes, we are aware you need help. Please tell us where you are.</LOJACK_Loc_DATA_Response>
<LOJACK_Loc_DATA>I don't know where I am. It's dark and I SEE DEAD PEOPLE!!! And empty pizza boxes and beer cans.</LOJACK_Loc_DATA>

<LOJACK_Loc_DATA_Response>Oh, you aren't stolen. You are at an Everquest Fan Faire.</LOJACK_Loc_DATA_Response>
<LOJACK_Loc_DATA>HELP M+++ CARRIER LOST

Site's slow; Article Text (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998210)

LoJack for Your Computer

By Michael Jaffe
July 6, 2005

Last week, LoJack (Nasdaq: LOJN) announced the dawning of a new era in data recovery.

What? Is the groundbreaking gorilla of stolen vehicle recovery committing Peter Lynch's cardinal sin of deworsification into the unrelated field of hard-drive hacking? Not really.

LoJack is licensing its brand name to Absolute Software, which provides Computrace -- soon to be known as the "LoJack for Laptops" line of computer theft recovery systems. When a stolen Computrace-equipped system is connected to the Internet, it automatically and silently sends locating data to Absolute Software, which then calls out the law. In some cases, Absolute Software customers are eligible for a $1,000 guarantee payment when a stolen system is not recovered within 60 days.

In my opinion, LoJack investors should be pleased for at least two reasons. First, without committing any capital or assets, LoJack is collecting a licensing fee, as well as warrants to purchase 500,000 shares of Absolute Software, with a $2 per-share exercise price. Assuming that LoJack can capitalize on its option to buy shares profitably (Absolute Software shares are trading at around $2 each), LoJack investors might be looking at the elusive free lunch. As long as Absolute Software delivers on quality control and customer service, thereby maintaining its reputation, downside risk is relatively limited.

Second, and more importantly, the LoJack brand name is gaining free exposure in the laptop market, catering to a higher-middle-income individual and business population, which happens to be a major segment of LoJack's automotive target customer base. Ostensibly, LoJack's status as a recognized brand and market leader in its field stands to be confirmed and enhanced. If companies take note (and mass appeal exists), there might be more licensing revenue to come.

To be sure, in a business that depends on brand awareness and customer confidence, a deal like this carries tempered risks because a company's brand equity is tantamount to the success or failure of a product. That said, successful licensing also offers the possibility for even greater rewards.

Want valuable nuggets on small-cap investing with a potential for mythic returns? Spend your magic bean money on a subscription to the Motley Fool Hidden Gems newsletter.

Fool contributor Michael Jaffe owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Click here to see The Motley Fool's disclosure policy. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.

Hide n seek (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998214)

In some cases, Absolute Software customers are eligible for a $1,000 guarantee payment when a stolen system is not recovered within 60 days.

Anyone else imagined lots of laptop owners playing hide n seek with their laptops for 60 days?

Worthless unless... (2, Insightful)

rosewood (99925) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998218)

Unless you have a peice of radio transmitting hardware inside the laptop that will destroy the laptop if removed, how can any software really be worth while?

For those not wanting to register (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998221)

LoJack for Your Computer

By Michael Jaffe
July 6, 2005

Last week, LoJack (Nasdaq: LOJN) announced the dawning of a new era in data recovery.

What? Is the groundbreaking gorilla of stolen vehicle recovery committing Peter Lynch's cardinal sin of deworsification into the unrelated field of hard-drive hacking? Not really.

LoJack is licensing its brand name to Absolute Software,which providesComputrace --soon to be known as the "LoJack for Laptops" line of computer theft recovery systems.When a stolen Computrace-equipped system is connected to the Internet, it automatically and silently sends locating data to Absolute Software, which then calls out the law. In some cases, Absolute Software customers are eligible for a $1,000 guarantee paymentwhen a stolen system is not recovered within 60 days.

In my opinion, LoJack investors should be pleased for at least two reasons. First, without committing any capital or assets, LoJack is collecting a licensing fee, as well as warrants to purchase 500,000 shares of Absolute Software, with a $2 per-share exercise price. Assuming thatLoJack can capitalize on itsoption to buy shares profitably (Absolute Software shares are trading at around $2 each), LoJack investorsmight be looking at the elusive free lunch. As long as Absolute Software delivers on quality control and customer service, thereby maintaining its reputation,downside risk is relatively limited.

Second, and more importantly, the LoJack brand name is gaining free exposure in the laptop market, catering to a higher-middle-income individual and business population, which happens to be a major segment of LoJack's automotive target customer base.Ostensibly, LoJack's status as a recognized brand and market leader in its field stands to be confirmed and enhanced. If companies take note (and mass appeal exists), there might be more licensing revenue to come.

To be sure,in a business that depends on brand awareness and customer confidence, a deal like thiscarries tempered risksbecause a company's brand equity is tantamount to thesuccess or failure of a product.That said, successful licensing also offers the possibility for even greater rewards.

Firewall (1)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998222)

If the thief follows the standard security procedure to install a firewall before going online, what would happen?

Hardware, or software? (4, Interesting)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998232)

TFA is remarkably lacking in technical details, so I looked at LoJack's site, which doesn't mention a thing about this. So - is this a hardware solution, or a program that gets installed into an existing OS? If the latter, well, how useful is that? While the slashdot crowd and the laptop-stealing crowd probably don't have a whole lot of overlap, I can't see someone not just re-installing the OS to wipe the system in any case.

The spyware and firewall questions seem important as well - if this is just a "Hey, this is box XYZ and I'm at this IP address", talking to lojack's servers, well, fine, but how does the end-user know that they haven't blocked that with their firewall?

I'd love to see something technical on this, rather than some stock-tip-guy's interpretation.

Re:Hardware, or software? (1)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998346)

Yes, this article is a joke.
Blah, blah, this company will make money because of blah, blah.
What about the product?

Re:Hardware, or software? (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998383)

Yeah, right. Why'll you're at it, ask them where they hide the lo-jack equipment on cars and how to disable it. Let me know when they get back to you.

Most likely they are putting code on the disk and in the flash.

Call out the law?? (2, Interesting)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998238)

which then calls out the law

What does that mean?
Is there some law organisation in the USA that you can call saying "my laptop has been stolen and it is now on the internet at address 333.444.555.666" which will then go out to locate your laptop and return it to you??

Teh Internets Police! (1)

subtropolis (748348) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998295)

BTW, it's strictly forbidden to report non-existing IP addresses to Teh Internets Police.

Re:Teh Internets Police! (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998446)

It is an example.
But I think it would be useless here to report something like this to the police. They will put your report on some stack of "nice things to do should we have some time left" and it will be assigned zero priority.

Re:Call out the law?? (1)

Hawke666 (260367) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998309)

I certainly hope not, since that's not a valid IP address.

Re:Call out the law?? (2, Funny)

sTalking_Goat (670565) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998328)

FBI Hostage Rescue Team.

Rappel down the side of the building, smash the window, flashbang the room. Whack the 15 year old who stole your laptop in thw chest with a CS grenade.

Re:Call out the law?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998422)

Is there some law organisation in the USA that you can call saying "my laptop has been stolen and it is now on the internet at address 333.444.555.666" which will then go out to locate your laptop and return it to you??
IRCops?

Bad boys bad boys, what ya gonna dooooo

Re:Call out the law?? (3, Funny)

joe_bruin (266648) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998445)

That IP address and its owner will be promptly banned from the Internet [uncyclopedia.org] .

roundup! (2, Funny)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998448)

Is there some law organisation in the USA that you can call saying "my laptop has been stolen and it is now on the internet at address 333.444.555.666" which will then go out to locate your laptop and return it to you??

Well sonny I work for these here boys, and when I get a tellygram, I hop on my trusty steed 'Mac', and he and I head on down to russle me up some lappies. 'casionally I hook up with m' associate Ping; she's a real darlin' and knows how to ferret out the sneakiest son-of-a-guns, even them Cen-trin-toes.

I tell ya, these city slickers wouldn't be loosin' 'em so fast if they branded 'em!

So what this tells me... (1)

Mrs. Grundy (680212) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998239)

is that would-be laptop thieves need to learn how to wipe the harddrive and reinstall before connecting to the internet. Probably a lot easier than removing a lojack from a car before you are busted.

On the other hand, if thieves think will get busted by stealing laptops, this helps everyone. Schneier has an interesting note on his blog [schneier.com] about lo jacks in cars benefiting everyone.

Perhaps? (0, Redundant)

Pepsiaddict (897824) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998247)

Well it could be remotely successful... I would ponder most crooks would be curious enough to boot a stolen laptop before they wipe it clean... though unlikely they would have need for internet access.

I want a Q model James Bond. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998251)

I want my laptop to emit knock-out gas and then send a signal via satellite to track it if it is stolen and wrong password are in the hardware.

First law of data security... (2, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998254)

If you don't have physical control, you don't have security. Okay, strong encrypted data may be safe from prying eyes but how many people, after getting a stolen laptop back, boot it immediately and "check" everything? Can you say keylogger trojan?

Computrace is a piece of client software that "phones home" on a regular basis. It provides NO protection against things like formatting the hard drive before connecting to the Internet. http://www.absolute.com/Public/products/techplatfo rm.asp [absolute.com]

Oooo... it uses an ENCRYPTED connection. Explain to me how this stops "fdisk; format c:" or "fdisk; mkfs /dev/hda1"? How about booting from alternate media like a USB key, floppy or CD?

This must be designed to nab the stupid criminal, who jacks in as soon as they boot.

On the other hand, with the prevalence of open WAPs, it is quite possible a laptop with a built-in wireless NIC will connect and phone home before the hapless thief realizes it.

-Charles

hardware solution (1)

subtropolis (748348) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998326)

a drive bay double-barreled Derringer might be of use.

Re:First law of data security... (1)

Stealth210 (447350) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998463)

Granted it may be able to "phone home" from a temporarily connected WAP, but what good is that going to do?

"Guaranteed" is a loose term these days (5, Informative)

Hachey (809077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998255)

Absolute Software may be guaranteeing $1,000 after 60 days if the laptop is not found, but you'd be surprised what that actually means.

I used to work for a computer store. We sold scores of laptop locks; all sorts of kinds of them. The Kensington locks sold like hotcakes because they had a $1,200 "guarantee" that the lock could not be compromised. The problem, we soon found out, is that the theif has to physically cut through the lock and leave behind the pieces. As we all know, some locks can be picked with even a bic pen [slashdot.org] , and so a lot of good this "guarantee" did for some poeple. Some theives also just took the not-so-hard-to-steal item the laptops were attached too. (Lock it to a bed or desk people, please!)

No evidence to send in, no money back. I am willing to bet in this case there are similar loopholes for Absolute Software to play with.


--
Check out the Uncyclopedia.org [uncyclopedia.org] :
The only wiki source for politically incorrect non-information about things like Kitten Huffing [uncyclopedia.org] and Pong! the Movie [uncyclopedia.org] !

oh boy! Software (1)

SatanMat (757225) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998256)

Okay so I've just stolen your laptop and formatted it and installed (anything) on it... Where's you LoJack now?

I fear software solutions will always fail, be weak at this point. A hardware option would seem to be better, no?

Yes it will work when a petty theif steals your baby, but not for anyone with an IQ over 105.

corporations (2, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998260)

Not sure what the costs involved are... but I doubt that this will be of much interest to the typical personal laptop owner. However, I can see this being bought up in bulk by companies as a sort of "insurance." In fact, their insurance rates would probably go down if all company laptops were equipped with this software. I think it makes sense for a business to try to protect their laptops this way. Employees are going to be less careful with a company laptop, as compared to their own personal laptop, and it might be important for the company to get the laptop back.

I think companies would be even more interested if there was a "kill-laptop" feature. So if the owner of the laptop goes to the IT department and says "my laptop was stolen!" (or lost), then they activate a flag so that when the laptop makes its secret connection, it receives a signal to erase itself, thereby protecting valuable company data. For many companies, protecting the data on the laptop might be more valuable than the laptop itself.

On the flip side, I would think that most people who steal laptops are going to wipe them or snoop around in them for awhile before connecting to the net and surf for porn. So this should hardly be viewed as a perfect solution for catching thieves (although WiFi certainly helps).

Re:corporations and Nuclear Labs & Banks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998357)

This is just what Los Alamos needs next time one of their laptops go missing.

Come to think of it, Banc One should also consider it.

Wow, What Garbage (5, Informative)

Protocron (611778) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998268)

Come on Slashdot. What is this, news for AOL users? This kiddie crap. Yes, most thieves will just boot the computer with Windows and try to get on the net. But this is Slashdot. We're nerds or something. And this ain't F***ing news. If I got a laptop that was stolen, hell if it was used, I would format it:

From the website: www.absolute.com

Q. Can Computrace Personal be removed?
A. The Computrace Personal software is a low-level utility that is as tamper resistant as a disk-based utility can be. The software can only be removed by an authorized user with the correct password so please be sure the password is stored in a safe location and not on the protected computer.

Q. What happens if a computer's hard drive is removed?
A. The software resides on a computer's hard drive so if the drive is removed the computer will no longer be protected and can not be located if stolen or lost.

http://www.absolute.com/Public/computracepersonal/ faqs.asp [absolute.com]
Wow, what great protection.
Come on!!!!! This ain't even hardware!!!

My solution for thiefs (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998273)

Just wipe any laptop you steal and install a nice, fresh OS on it. Preferably one without "LoJack".

Nothing in the rather grim article suggested that this tech is available outside the OS, so to me it sounds like an easy fix.

Re:My solution for thiefs (1)

kebes (861706) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998387)

True enough. As with all security measures (lock, alarm system, etc.), it can be overcome by someone who is smart, and especially someone who is expecting the security measure to be there. I would think that alot of stolen laptops are re-formatted and re-sold within a day (without ever being connected to the net), and thus this utility is useless against those particular thieves. However, there are some thieves who may start using the laptop immediately, and may connect it to the net to do so (or maybe a WiFi connection will even occur without them knowing?). So this will at least help against some thievery. No security measure is perfect. The point of security is not to make anything impossible, but just to make it more difficult.

I highly doubt that most laptop-thieves (who are probably thieves of opportunity, not elite criminals or computer hackers) will think to worry about this utility being installed.

1000 bucks!? (1)

avocade (608333) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998277)

If I'm without my work-computer in 60 days, it sure has cost me a heck of a lot more than a grand in productivity loss. Not too friendly-minded with systems that call home [wikipedia.org] either. This's certainly a stab... somewhere...

Boot any one of the many live *nix distro's (2, Interesting)

Goatboy (22601) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998282)

..then use fdisk to wipe the disk. Really, am I missing something here? (Other than a possible BIOS setting to force boot from internal HD in preference to CD/USB/Floppy/LAN, which can always be gotten around).
Oh, I get it - it's just designed to recover stolen laptops from non-slashdot readers ;o)

$1000? please... (3, Insightful)

finse (63518) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998283)

There was a time when laptops were stolen due to their price, and possible resale value on the black market. I personally think we are now in a new era where laptop theft (at least the corporate type) is no longer about getting a shiney new powerbook, and possibly selling it off the back of a truck. Today laptop theft could be for the information contained on the hard drive. Now lets think about the componsation, if my HR director "loses" his/her laptop with important information about me/co-workers, is $1000 really going to cover the loss? No, not even close. 1K in most cases will not even cover the cost of the laptop. For my money, I want a techonology that will encrypt the contents of that hard drive, and be easy enough for an HR director to use.

Re:$1000? please... (1)

BrK (39585) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998407)

If your HR director is porting around a laptop with unencrypted data on employees you have bigger problems.

The data shouldn't even *be* on a laptop in the first place.

What exactly does an HR person need to do remotely? Keep sensitive data on an internal server and use a VPN to access it.

and for my information? (2, Funny)

dallask (320655) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998292)

So when the bank official looses his laptop with my bank data on it and the thief dumps the data to another system and reformats before it connects to the net then what do I get for my stolen identity?

PC or Mac? Linux? (0, Redundant)

Pepsiaddict (897824) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998299)

I figure there's a 97% chance this is Windows-only software, according to the last market-share report.

Not just stolen! (5, Interesting)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998311)

It's not just stolen laptops that send information to their servers. Any laptop with this software installed sends periodic heartbeats to the computrace people.

Our PHB ordered it installed after getting a call from a golf buddy. It was ripped out a week later. The heartbeats contain enough [cleartext] information that the increased chance of the laptop being broken into, or the salesguy socially engineered using the info was deemed higher than the chance it'd ever be stolen.

only $1,000? (1)

hazzey (679052) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998323)

eligible for a $1,000 guarantee payment

Sounds pretty low to me. Insurance should pay at least that much depending on the value. And considering how easy it would be to stop this sort of thing if it was only software based, it just sounds like an extra insurance plan.

How does it know when it is stolen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998347)

When a stolen Computrace-equipped system is connected to the Internet, it automatically and silently sends locating data to Absolute Software ...unless it is constantly phoning home all the time? I don't think I want that.

like cell phones (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998370)

If your cell phone is stolen, it should be easy to connect the called numbers to the person who has the phone. In some cases this will work, and I have seen cell phones returned.

However even the young kids who casually steal cell phones appear to have some sophistication, and are able to reprogram or wipe phones for resale.

Given that wiping and reinstalling the OS for laptop is trivial compared to reprogramming a phone, I do not see how this would stop anyone but the most casual of laptop thief.

I would like to see how easy it is to get the $1000. If the service was cheap enough, it would be valuable merely as $1000 insurance policy.

Limiting Conditions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12998382)

The Computrace $1000 refund system is only valid if the Computrace servers recieve a transmission from the laptop after it is stolen. Sort of defeats the value of the whole thing, especially if the thieves know their security. It'd also make it harder for people to "steal" their own laptops to get the $1000 claim.

Nice marketing idea, but... (4, Interesting)

imuffin (196159) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998435)

I've been doing this for years using DynDNS's free dynamic DNS service. [dyndns.org] I run a client on all my machines that updates their IPs with dyndns's database. If my laptop disappears, I just look to see what mylaptop.dyndns.org resolves to.

--
watch funny commercials [tubespot.com]

A fool and his money. (1)

BrK (39585) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998443)

This company just proves the saying "A fool and his money are soon venture capital".

I seriously can't believe this concept ever got past the drunken-scheming-businessplan-on-a-napkin phase.

Yes, this might catch your average completely clueless snatch-and-grab thief, but I wonder how often those guys go through the trouble of connecting a stolen laptop to an internet connection anyway?

What would be really fun is to report some PHB's laptop stolen while he's on a business trip with this software installed :)

How does the computer know it's stolen? (2, Interesting)

wombert (858309) | more than 9 years ago | (#12998453)

How does the stolen computer know it's time to transmit the homing signal... unless it's always transmitting anytime you're connected to the internet?

I'm not entirely sure how the LoJack on cars works, but I seem to recall it requires you to report the theft, and then the cops/LoJack have some means for tracking the car's device. With a physical device, this might not require an always-transmitting approach so much as always-ready-to-transmit - that is, it could have enough battery power to start transmitting once it's hit with a request for broadcast. But for a software solution, how would you ping the stolen computer? (You need routing information in addition to the MAC address, right?)

Fortunately, there's a good chance that anyone booting up your stolen WinXP laptop will quickly be caught and arrested for connecting to the nearest WiFi network [slashdot.org] .
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