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back to article Intel, Lenovo to foil laptop thieves

Chip maker Intel, computer manufacturer Lenovo, and security-software publisher Absolute Software today announced a joint program to equip select Lenovo laptops with anti-theft technology. Intel's Anti-Theft PC Protection hardware, part of the vPro Technology component of the Centrino 2 platform, will enable IT staffers to …

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Silver badge
Happy

How to make a laptop unstealable

I'm reminded of the bofh's suggestion (though I think for desk phones) to make a piece of kit unstealable - make it pug ugly and weigh 20lbs

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Flame

Battery fire?

Possibly a better option would be to change the battery charge algorithms to induce a battery fire (since this happens frequently by accident, it can't be hard). That would hopefully consume the laptop, miscreant and the other chavs in his council house in flaming lithium.

I see you made a special icon.

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Or...

simply put a different hard drive in it before you go to use it the first time.

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Pirate

The usual bypass

1. Steal laptop.

2. Reformat HD and install WinXP (most likely pirated) so it's not obvious where it came from.

3. Sell on eBay for a few bucks.

4. Profit.

For this sort of anti-theft technology to work, it needs to be built into the hardware somewhere, not a program running on Windows.

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Pirate

Cost effective?

What costs more - the financial hit of one or two stolen laptops (given that sans-encryption, the data's still accessible to the determined thief) or the cost of the subscription over the months and years...

Unless your organisation is seriously good at losing laptops, I just can't see that it's really cost effective. On those grounds, of course, I assume MI5 have already placed an order?

But even if you do manage to lock down a stolen machine, so what? You're leaving the crooks with a nice paperweight but it's still the crook's expensive paperweight.

I'll have it when they come up with a service that lets the stolen machine sprout legs and walk home.

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Can't prevent theft

Locking up a laptop after it has been stolen doesn't really count as anti-theft, as it doesn't prevent the actual theft. It is just a minor revenge at the thief.

While you can argue that it is a slight deterrent, as a thief risks stealing something that is worth less than they expect (it is not totally worthless, as RAM, HD and other accessible parts can be taken out and sold separately), I doubt thieves will take time to check if the laptop they steal is protected -- especially if they just nick a laptop carrying case while the owner is busy buying tickets at the local train station.

The only effective theft prevention it to have the laptop locked onto something. Government officials carrying confidential material on their laptops should have them cuffed to their wrists.

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Ed

HA

"an IT admin can choose to configure the anti-theft technology to lock an individual laptop if it fails to "check in" over the internet to the Absolute Monitoring Center within a specified period of time"

Translates as

More work for the help desk

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Go

New Insurance Company

I'm starting a new insurance company with singular purpose: insure swimming pools against theft.

Current prospectus data is estimating 99.9% claims-free operation.

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That turns out not to be the case...

As for "Anti Theft" - it's not anti-theft for the laptop itself, but anti-theft for the data contained on it.

And as for "replace the hard drive and bob's your uncle" - nope, this is built into the mobo, just like all other Intel AMT stuff - so it'll check in regardless of hard drive swappery.

What this adds up to is a compelling reason to buy the early models with these capabilities, if you're the big corporate type with data to be protected... and as the featureset is incorporated into more and more laptops, there will be a trend of discouraging theft in general.

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Boffin

@Torben Mogensen

"The only effective theft prevention it to have the laptop locked onto something. Government officials carrying confidential material on their laptops should have them cuffed to their wrists."

No, no, no...... They should have it cuffed to their balls, then, when some miscreant grabs it to run, they'll be painfully reminded why they shouldn't be taking it home in the first place!

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Black Helicopters

@Jeremy, it's DATA Thieves Your Stopping

The physical laptop is not what being protected here, it is the data that's on it. The ability to stop that data getting into the wrong hands far outweighs the prospect of putting a minor annoyance on the thief that s/he can't use their ill-gotten gains without a bit of admin work.

If the thief wants to replace the HDD before eBay'ing it, all the better.

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Gold badge

Re: "@Jeremy, it's DATA Thieves Your Stopping"

Er, I hope not, since the sane way to protect data is to encrypt it or pull it down the VPN only as needed. (Take your pick. I'm sure both approaches have their place.) As for the hardware, I agree with Torben -- this is revenge technology and nothing more.

Of course, the fun really starts when someone manages to spoof the central server and remotely brick all the Lenovo laptops in the airport lounge. :)

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Just encrypt everything

Except /boot. Assign each laptop a unique password to even load up and encrypt the secret data again for good measure. Also, make putting the data somewhere unencrypted a cause for immediate termination.

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Anonymous Coward

beaten by dell...

designed for business dells have had computrace in the bios for years:

first dell latitude i bought was the x300 and that had computrace in the bios, since then have had the x1, D420 and D430 and they all have the computrace bios options too

there is only 1 form of absolute security for laptops - 2 part epoxying them onto some huge immovable object!

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