By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Absolute Software's LoJack notebook computer security software not only helps protect sensitive data, but it, along with the company, actively helps locate a lost or stolen laptop.
The computer version of LoJack operates much like its automotive counterpart in that it enables the lost or stolen computer to be tracked by Absolute. The software is loaded onto the notebook, which tracks its position by having the notebook report in to Absolute every day during normal use. If the notebook is lost or stolen, the owner calls Absolute. Then if the person with the computer in question accesses the Internet, that action will be noted by the company when the computer checks in, said Ben Haidri, Absolute's marketing VP.
The software allows Absolute to determine where it is located, and with the help of local law officials the company will attempt to find and return the unit.
Absolute charges a yearly service fee of $49.99 with a guarantee that refunds the money if the notebook is not recovered within 30 days. The company has sold LoJack into the corporate market for several months and is now looking to sell it at retail.
The recovery effort is led by the company's staff — a team of former law enforcement officials who get in touch with the police department nearest to where the computer is being used. The company also sends a legal document to the ISP being used by the stolen computer, requesting information on exactly where it is currently located. The police are then sent to the scene to recover the computer, and if needed, arrest the person using it.
The tracking operations and daily check-in take place behind the scenes so the users or thieves cannot know they are giving away their position to the police.
The software has additional features that are not normally turned on because they detract from the recovery effort, Haidri said. This includes being able to remotely shut down the computer, but since it has to be operating in order for the police to track it, that option is not used. Another possible option, Haidri said, is allowing for remote data retrieval so a consumer could grab either sensitive or personal data that had not been backed up before it is deleted by Absolute. This data can always be reinstalled when the computer is found. This would happen when the stolen device logged on to the Web.
Haidri said that in many cases the person illegally using the computer is someone who refused to return it to his company or school after he left; however, in one case a recovered notebook led to the capture of a car-theft ring in Texas. The notebook found in a stolen car was used by the thieves in their chop shop, and the local police were able to arrest the entire crew.
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