Protect Your Laptop From Theft

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Laptops are great portable devices – problem is that are also easy targets for thieves and all too easy to steal.

I came across a security program called Frontdoor Software International Recovery which uses the web to register your laptop and should it be stolen, use various tactics to show that it is a stolen machine. To wit:

 

  1. Blast a message to your missing laptop to try to quickly change the boot-up Retriever screen from remote to state THIS COMPUTER IS REPORTED STOLEN.
  2. Send a 1-50 character lockdown code that you create to the missing computer.
  3. New cell phone number or email address? You can sign in to your account and update your information remotely to make sure it is current.
  4. You can have your laptop actually talk! You can set your laptop to announce a warning/prevention message on boot-up. (recommended). If you check the STOLEN button in your account, your laptop can actually call out for help!
  5. You can communicate whatever you feel like sending out as a message by typing your new message into the message box that appears on the boot-up screen.
  6. If your laptop is lost or stolen, and someone turns on your laptop, the Retriever will try to send out information that will help you find it. You can sign in to your www.frontdoorsoftware.com web site account and see information collected about where your stolen laptop is communicating from at anytime.

This is a commercial produst – $30 for one three year license – not a bad deal if you have an expensive laptop. Setting it up is very easy:

 

First you go through Four Registration Steps:

 

 

 

 

 

Upon completion, the information is sent to  Frontdoor Software International Recovery’s’ website to set up our account:

 

 

Once registered you see this:

 

 

Then you can log-in to your account:

 

 

Once you log-in, you can then access your account and change settings:

The one drawback to this program is that if the thief is savvy enough to wipe the drive, this app gets wiped also. Most thieves (I think) are not so inclined. For $10/year, cheap insurance – you can try it out with a 90 day free trial. I love that you can scream at the thief!

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Discussion
  1. I.M.O.G.
    Is it windows only? How does the system accomplish loading the app from BIOS?


    I'm assuming that the small app that's installed on the BIOS attempts to access the internet and download whatever client app is needed to contact the LoJack center. Whatever is installed on your computer, it's small and invisible. I can't find any LoJack files on my computer at all. It's extremely mysterious how it all works. All I know is that somehow my computer calls the LoJack center every day to report it's location. If I ever report the laptop stolen, they will be able to track it because it will call the LoJack center every time it accesses the internet.

    Apparently you can get LoJack for Mac's as well.

    At any rate I'm starting to think that LoJack is much more secure than the alternative mentioned in the main page article.
    I'm also somewhat curious now... I've heard of laptop tracking like this before, but the part about reinstalling is weird.

    How does the computrace attempt to reinstall? Is it windows only? How does the system accomplish loading the app from BIOS?
    hkgonra
    How does it stay on after a format ?

    Is it hardware ?


    I'm wondering that too actually. All I know is that I had LoJack on my computer out of the box. When I first got it I went online and registered my computer.

    Since then I reformatted and reinstalled windows fully expecting that I would have to reinstall LoJack as well. So I went to the LoJack website and logged in. I ran a little test to see if it was installed and working, and expected it to report back saying that I needed to reinstall. That wasn't the case though, and it said everything was working fine.

    I know that I merged all of the partitions and reformatted the entire drive, so I really don't know how it could have stayed on there.

    I found this on LoJack's website.

    Computrace Embedded in the BIOS

    To help make sure that the Computrace Agent cannot be disabled by criminals, Absolute Software works with computer manufacturers to pre-install a portion of the agent in the BIOS. The BIOS-based Computrace Agent has the ability to survive operating system reinstallations, hard drive reformats, and hard drive replacements. Find out which computers come with Computrace built into the BIOS.

    The BIOS-based agent will secretly re-install Computrace LoJack for Laptops on a stolen computer, so our Theft Recovery Team can track and recover the stolen computer even if the hard drive has been replaced or tampered with.

    http://www.lojackforlaptops.com/products/how_does_it_work.asp

    I just found some more interesting stuff. Apparently manufactures are making laptops with the LoJack BIOS even if it doesn't ship with LoJack. Also, the LoJack BIOS agent is able to reinstall the LoJack software if the hard drive is replaced. I also found a list of all the laptop models that ship with the LoJack compatible BIOS. Here it is:

    http://www.absolute.com/products-bios-enabled-computers.asp

    This is all extremely fascinating to me... I also don't feel quite so weary about my laptop ever being stolen :)