Oct 31

Law Office Computing Lojack articleI recently wrote an article for Law Office Computing magazine on a piece of technology that functions as a “Lojack” for your laptop. The article is not linked on their web site but thanks to Jamie Tyo from the magazine for permission to republish the article here. The highlights of the technology are:

  • A very small program gets installed that dials in once each day to a secure data center to report the location of your computer.
  • In the event that you flag your computer as stolen, the next time it calls in, it bumps up the call frequency to every fifteen minutes and notifies their recovery team.
  • THEY handle the legal process of working with local law enforcement to retrieve your computer and will insure each unrecoverable machine up to $1000.
  • If it’s a lost cause and your computer went to Colombia with sensitive data on it, you can remotely delete the contents of the hard drive.
  • There are other reporting features in the administrative interface that can offer useful data for large enterprises like software compliance, hardware changes and hard drive usage.

I ran an actual field test for the article and it worked as advertised. I fired quite a few questions at their recovery officer and he had impressive responses to all. Check out the article and if you have any questions about the test or the technology itself, feel free to post them here.

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6 Responses to ““Lojack” tracking technology for your laptop”

  1. Chris says:

    That’s really cool. I saw a product advertised at CompUSA yesterday for about $20. I had no idea this stuff was so foolproof. So basically even if you formatted the drive and reinstalled WIndows it would recover itself? That’s awesome.

  2. Sean Tierney says:

    Chris,
    yeah, it blew me away too. Without divulging the proprietary details they explained to me on how it works under the hood, it’s basically hidden in a spot and has the capability to "bootstrap" itself back to working condition in the event that it gets damaged or partially removed. Unless you know exactly what you’re looking for and can surgically remove it, the only way to kill it is a DoD-grade wipe of the hard drive (that or obviously yank the hard drive and replace it). Pretty amazing stuff. They’ve also done deals with some of the major OEM’s and are making it even more bulletproof by integrating it into the BIOS. A little "Big Brother-ish" but I suppose it’s cool as long as YOU are Big Brother ;-)

    sean

  3. Pranav says:

    What if an exploit is found for this program? How easy is it to update?

  4. Sean Tierney says:

    Pranav,
    I’m not sure what you mean- it calls in daily to the Absolute.com datacenter and checks to see if the laptop has been flagged stolen. If so, then it bumps it’s call frequency to every 15min. The remote wipe command can only be issued from the datacenter and takes double signoff from two higher-ups within Absolute who must verify written and verbal consent from the laptop’s owner. Are you asking if the remote wipe command can be somehow spoofed to the laptop? I do not know the answer to that questions since I don’t know the internal workings but I imagine anything can be hacked theoretically but the laptop only calls their datacenter for instructions so you’d have to somehow intercept that encrypted communication and respond with the correct encryped instructions containing the unique key for that laptop – very unlikely.

    sean

  5. [...] Making myself traceable – you want to hope for the best but plan for the worst. In the event that I were to turn up missing in some obscure foreign town, I would want to have an Onstar (or a "SeanStar" as the case may be). The method I’ve come up with is to use the Absolute.com laptop tracking software which dials in daily and give my family instructions on how they can find the last IP address it called in from in the event that something happens. I recently wrote an article for Law Office Computing on this software and it works really well. At least that would provide a physical address from which to commence a search in the event that something bad were to happen. [...]

  6. Sean Tierney says:

    Pranav,
    I'm not sure what you mean- it calls in daily to the Absolute.com datacenter and checks to see if the laptop has been flagged stolen. If so, then it bumps it's call frequency to every 15min. The remote wipe command can only be issued from the datacenter and takes double signoff from two higher-ups within Absolute who must verify written and verbal consent from the laptop's owner. Are you asking if the remote wipe command can be somehow spoofed to the laptop? I do not know the answer to that questions since I don't know the internal workings but I imagine anything can be hacked theoretically but the laptop only calls their datacenter for instructions so you'd have to somehow intercept that encrypted communication and respond with the correct encryped instructions containing the unique key for that laptop – very unlikely.

    sean

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