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Protecting your laptop's data against thieves


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December 3, 2008

Semiconductor and CPU manufacturer Intel, computer maker Lenovo and security-software provider Absolute Software announced a joint program today to equip select Lenovo laptops with anti-theft technology that will protect the laptop itself as well as its data.

Intel's Anti-Theft Computer and Laptop Protection Hardware, part of the vPro Technology component of the Centrino II platform, will enable IT staffers to protect suitably equipped Lenovo T-400 laptops through subscriptions to Absolute's Computrace security-software service.

Although the enhanced security capabilities will be integrated into the T-400s, their activation and the Computrace subscription itself will be optional.

Even without a Computrace subscription, the Intel Anti-Theft PC Protection hardware can still lock down a laptop after a predetermined number of failed password attempts or if it fails to check in after a predetermined period of time.

If and when a stolen laptop is returned to its rightful owner, an IT administrator can then unlock it.

According to Bob Galush, Lenovo's v.p. for software and peripherals marketing, this hardware/software solution will enable IT departments to "be reasonably confident that their business laptops are protected by an additional layer of security that wasn't possible before."

Galush seems to have reason to exude his own confidence, on paper at least...

To be sure, similar security technology and applications have been discussed in the past, with varying stages of acceptance by security firms, but none were really deployedas of yet.

As described in coordinated press releases from the three companies, an IT admin can choose to configure the anti-theft technology to lock down an individual laptop if it fails to "check in" over the Internet to the Absolute Monitoring Center within a specified period of time.

Alternatively, if a laptop is reported stolen, an admin can designate it to be locked down the next time it checks in, totally preventing the laptop or its data from being used by anybody.

The capabilities outlined by Intel, Lenovo and Absolute stop short of those demonstrated in the anti-theft demo that Intel executives presented during the Intel Developer Forum just four months ago.

In that demo, security measures included remote file encryption and the ability to snap a photo of the laptop-thieving miscreant using the stolen machine's webcam and then automatically email that image of the evildoer back to the laptop's corporate home.

Perhaps these powerful and great-to-have security features will appear in verion 2.0. Time will tell...

The first security-enhanced Lenovo T-400 laptops will ship around Dec. 16. If your personal finances are based on laptop-lifting larceny, it's time to step up your efforts.

Intel and Lenovo might have something worthwhile here.

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Source: Intel Corp.


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