Software traces stolen laptops
Cape Town - A company specialising in security has unveiled a software package that promises to give laptop users the ability to track down their computers in the event of theft.
CyberSentry runs in the background on laptops and will enable the user to "track a lost or stolen laptop using GPS, 3G, Wi-Fi or IP trace" the company said.
"When you get the software, it installs a small file on the laptop. You have to put in an email address as the reporting address and after it is stolen it will communicate any activities," Intertel's Director: Special Projects Brett Powell told News24.
Unlike cellphones that are always connected, the stolen laptop requires the thief to connect it to the internet, but Powell said that the owner could instruct it to perform a specific function after it was stolen, and the device could even take advantage of open Wi-Fi networks automatically.
"It's got a Wi-Fi auto connect feature, which will allow the laptop to connect to any Wi-Fi hotspot and send all information on what the thief's been doing."
The software is able to conceal information such as images, emails and documents as well as giving the user the ability to remotely delete files in a way that they are irrecoverable.
While Powell said that the best way to prevent theft of laptops is being watchful, he added that the features of the software could also have benefits for companies that provide computer hardware to users.
"If you exercise good physical care, the likelihood of theft greatly diminishes, but we've built in a few extras. There's an icon on the toolbar that allows a client to leave the laptop on a desk and even though it will look off, you could use the camera to monitor colleagues in an office.
"It would also help to combat inter-office theft. One can make the laptop unusable, but it makes more sense to me to hide your personal information instead," Powell said.
He added that the software would particularly serve the corporate and government environment where there were significant losses of equipment.
"Government departments suffer incredible losses of equipment and laptops are taken for resale value or for specific information. This software makes it harder for the thief to use the laptop unless he replaces the hard drive, which would probably not be worth the thief's while."
Powell said that the software, which was developed in SA is compatible with all operating systems and his company was considering offering a reward system for people who returned stolen laptops.
But he hinted that the company is working on a trace system for cars.
"We're working on a camera system for cars that could record the interior and exterior that would stream data to a remote computer. This would be useful for people, for example, if you're dealing with corrupt cops."
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