Tactical Advice

Theft Tracker

LoJack for Laptops helps users retrieve stolen computers or delete their sensitive contents.
This story appears in the September 2010 issue of BizTech Magazine.

When I received the call to review Absolute Software’s Computrace LoJack for Laptops, I was excited. I had heard about LoJack but had not had an opportunity to try it myself. That’s not to say that the thought of theft had never crossed my mind.

What would I do if my notebook were stolen? What if the thief gets access to my data? Will I ever see my notebook again? Computrace LoJack for Laptops Premium Edition addresses these issues by allowing the end user to erase sensitive data.

End-User Advantages

I truly would not have known that LoJack was installed if I had not done the installation myself. There are no icons, program directories or even performance issues to indicate that LoJack is running. If a protected notebook were to land in the wrong hands, most thieves would never know that their every move was being tracked.

Why It Works for IT

I used a Toshiba Satellite A210 notebook, which was on the supported hardware list, to test LoJack for Laptops.

The premium edition comes with a $1,000 guarantee if Absolute Software cannot recover your device. What’s more important to organizations is that LoJack can delete data remotely on lost devices. However, I was unable to test this feature because the notebook has to be reported stolen in order to delete data or utilize tracking abilities.

One of the greatest attributes of LoJack for Laptops is its ability to reinstall itself should it be removed or the computer re-imaged. Absolute Software calls this “persistence,” and the feature appears to be supported on most business-class notebooks.

I installed Computrace LoJack for Laptops on a Windows XP partition and let it run for a few days before deciding to wipe it out and start over. I was skeptical of the software’s ability to reinstall itself and had to see it with my own eyes. Once Windows was installed, I let the computer sit overnight in order for the agent to reinstall. Though I couldn’t find the agent on the system, it was working the next day.

Disadvantages

$49,246

Average value of a lost notebook based on replacement cost, detection, forensics, data breach, lost intellectual property costs, lost productivity, and legal, consulting and regulatory expenses

Source: Ponemon Institute

Not all systems are compatible with the persistence module, but compatability can be checked online. Some firewalls may prevent the program from checking in to Absolute Software’s server.

I also had an issue with response time from technical support. They typically took at least two days to respond via e-mail. If the notebook had been reported stolen, I would hope that support is more responsive. The website that indicated the agent status was also frequently incorrect. The website consistently showed that the last time the agent checked in was several days earlier. But I was assured by tech support that the agent was checking in.

Overall, the subscription price for Computrace LoJack for Laptops is small considering you’re upping the chances of having your stolen notebook returned. Additionally, with the premium subscription you can delete sensitive data that could jeopardize company security or cause a public-relations nightmare.

John Case is technology coordinator at the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center in Bellefontaine, Ohio.
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