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Recovery of Stolen Computers

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by dglockster, Sep 10, 2006.

  1. dglockster

    dglockster

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    Lo Jack is a nice little piece of software that, for $80.00 for the software and a one-year service subscription, helps in the location and recovery of stolen laptop computers (although it will also work on desktop computers). Install the software and it works just like Lo Jack for your car. There are also commercial versions, Computrace (laptops) and Computrack (desktops), available.

    If a computer with Lo Jack installed is reported to the company, (www.absolute.com), as being stolen, and if the computer is ever connected to the Internet, regardless of the connection method, the company, tracks its location and helps recover the computer. In the event the computer can't be recovered, the owner can authorize the company to erase the hard drive of that particular computer. Because of the way the software installs itself, it can withstand low-level reformatting of the hard drive. However, most thieves will only be interested in either using or selling the computer, not reformatting the drive.

    Tracking means several things. The company can generate a street map that tells the address of where the computer is located. If it is being used in dialup mode, it will generate the telephone number from which the computer is being used, and if it is being used on a network, it will generate the address the computer uses when it is online. The company also has its own security force that works with the police department in whose jurisdiction the laptop was located to help them recover the laptop. The software provides worldwide location but some countries are more difficult to retrieve from (one of my organization’s laptops has been traced to Afghanistan but not recovered.)

    One caveat: Because the company works directly with the local police to recover stolen computers, the company will only help locate computers that have been reported by the owner to the local police department as being stolen. Lost or otherwise misplaced computers are not part of the location agreement.

    I know all of this because the organization for which I work has used the commercial version, called Computrace, for the past four years (for organizations with numerous computers, the cost per computer is much less than the $80 for the personal version and the length of the service agreement is negotiable). We have over 10,000 laptops in use and by using the software, we have had about a 70% recovery rate for the ones that are reported stolen. We have also found that some of our own employees reported "stolen" laptops, even to the police, when the laptops were really being used by relatives, pawned, etc. (initially employees did not know the tracking software was on the laptops).

    Because of the recovery rate for laptops, three years ago we also started putting the desktop version, called Computrack, on all desktop computers that we ordered. The company prices Computrack lower because, statistically, desktop computers are not stolen as often as are laptop computers. In fact several of the Tier 1 companies, IBM, Dell, HP, have Computrac residing in the CMOS of their desktop computers – if you order the software as part of the specs for the computers you purchase.

    BTW, I do not work for or represent Absolute Software in any fashion other than being a satisfied customer who has been using their services and software for the past four years. With all of the laptop thefts that have occurred within the past several months, I thought that some of you might find this information to be of interest.
     
  2. tarpleyg

    tarpleyg

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    What do you do in the event some smart thief just blows away the hard drive and install a new OS on it? Your lo-jack is gone now and you can kiss your $80 goodbye. Now, if they have a mechanism in place that somehow puts the "tracker" into non-volatile memory or the BIOS and it is done so secretly, your in good shape. But I suspect this can be easily defeated as long as said thief is knowledgeable.

    Greg
     

  3. dglockster

    dglockster

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    As I said, the software is now a factory installed option for the bios for some manufacturer's desktops.

    The bios option is not yet available for laptops.

    Having the software installed just increases the change of recovering stolen computers. The software does not show up as being installed on the system so a thief may not feel the need to reinstall the OS.

    My opinion is that most computers are stolen for their resale value, as little as it may be, and not for personal use. If the actual thief is not caught, the user who bought stolen merchandise, is required to return the computer.

    Having said that, the reason for the original post was just to let some of the laptop users know some of the security options that are out there. Before posting, I searched the forum and did not find any related posts.

    However, for more detailed information and what-if questions, I recommend contacting the company.
     
  4. David_G17

    David_G17 /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

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    good idea. not many theives will flash the BIOS.

    if they knew how to flash the BIOS, odds are, they would have marketable skills and wouldn't be thieves in the first place.

    interesting.

    i had a laptop stolen a few years back. i wish i had this installed. there's no way the guy who stole it even knew what the word "format" meant.
     
  5. Washington D.C.

    Washington D.C.

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    Some years ago,most of the laptop thieves here in DC were "students" from India and maybe some from Pakistan.They would steal new laptops from the shops.They would even cut the security cables and dash out of the door with them.They would sell them at the universities.These guys had grants and were driving leased BMW's!!I think they did it more for the thrill than the money.
     
  6. Blitzer

    Blitzer Cool Cat

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    Most thieves are looking for thier next hit, pill, or snuff of dope. Most have no time to wipe the hard drives.

    And kind tarpleyg please learn to read with comprehension!

    :thumbsup: :shocked: