When Your Laptop Surfs Without You

Wednesday Jun 28th 2006 by Dan Ragle
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A new utility and online service seeks to retrieve data from stolen laptops.

Your laptop has been stolen. What's the bottom line impact to your business or organization? If you answered a couple grand for the replacement of hardware, then chances are good that you're missing the bigger picture.

Did your laptop have data; perhaps the final wording of a contract that you've just completed, or archived e-mail conversations that you haven't backed up yet? Or even worse: does your laptop contain information such as online account names and passwords?

The hardware can be replaced easily enough (insurance may even cover that) but losing and/or exposing a laptop's valuable data to mischievous individuals is a liability that your company may not be able to afford.

MyLaptopGPS is a software utility that you install on a Windows laptop computer (98/98SE/Me/2000/XP/2003), and it's also an online service that seeks to recover — and then destroy — information on stolen laptops.

To use the service, you install the software on your machine and also place an aluminum warning tag (with a permanent adhesive) to the laptop itself (the tag is for warning and informational purposes only; it does not actually contribute to the tracking of the laptop/data).

Focusing on the critical data on the machine, the utility runs silently on the laptop until its owner reports the theft by phone or online notification to the MyLaptopGPS recovery team.

The next time the laptop connects to the Internet (via private LAN, hot spots, etc.), MyLaptopGPS identifies the laptop and silently transmits selected files (via 128-bit SSL) to the vendor's secure site for retrieval by the original owner (assuming the data is still available). The company states that they can recover any data from the laptop that is accessible to Windows.

The service can then remotely destroy the data on the laptop. You can even send your own hate message directly to the bad guys as you delete their files, if you like. MyLaptopGPS says that they work with law enforcement personnel to locate and recover the physical laptop. The company claims that the technology works even if the thief (or final end user) connects to the Internet from behind a private network firewall, and works regardless of the thief's Internet connection mode (wired or wireless).

Of course if the laptop drive is wiped clean the utility will not function and the laptop will not be found. But in that case, the vendor notes, at least the critical information on the laptop is not available to the perpetrator for indecent acts.

The product comes in three versions; for individual, business and university/government use. The individual license supports use of the program on up to two laptops for $9.95 a month. The business version is priced at $9.95 per month per laptop. Contact the vendor for university/government pricing.

Adapted from enterpriseitplanet.com.

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