Software Helps Track Location of Stolen Laptops

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Software Helps Track Location of Stolen Laptops

Citing laptop computer thefts as one of the most frequently stolen items in the industry, computer notebook manufacturers Dell, Hewlett-Packard and I.B.M. will now offer software that tracks stolen laptop computers. These three manufacturers will embed tracking software on the hard drive of each laptop that is activated to record the laptop location as soon as the laptop user connects to the Internet. I.B.M. is partnering with Absolute ComputracePlus software to offer a laptop tracking service for a fee of $49 US per year (for one laptop and one license), while an Absolute site license for 20 users is $2,499 US for two years. HP will offer zTrace’s software on its laptops for similar license fees. While the manufacturer’s central computer records the initial log on of the laptop to the Internet, the laptop location isn’t tracked until the laptop has been reported as stolen or lost. For laptops that log on via telephone lines, the software has technology that identifies the telephone number and tracks the physical location for that telephone number; for laptops that connect over a T1, cable modem or by DSL, the laptop location is tracked by Internet Protocol (IP) address through the Internet Service Provider. Of course, this tracing service only works if the heisted laptop is eventually connected to the Internet. For laptops that are stolen strictly for the commercial, proprietary data contained on their hard drives, the Internet may never be accessed. In this case, the laptop owner can request that a signal be sent to the software in the stolen laptop, which will reportedly delete all of the information contained on the laptop’s hard drive.