LoJack computer tracing and security software

Recently one of our customers had a break in and all the laptops stolen, about 10 days later, the crooks returned and did the same thing. Within two weeks the local news had a story about the number of break-ins in this little town.

Unfortunately the client had purchased big box store laptops both times instead of from a local professional company such as IFix Computers. Why? Because they were “cheaper”. Just a quick reminder, there is a reason that small independent IT companies charge more, quality is the biggest reason (unless they are just name brand resellers and not actual builders). There are other reasons such as service and the purpose of this article, theft recovery.

There are several parts of theft recovery and data security. Intel provides a couple of options, one is TPM (Trusted Platform Module) which you can read about here http://www.intel.com/design/mobile/platform/downloads/trusted_platform_module_white_paper.pdf
TPM, in part, provides the layout for laptop security. Included in quality laptops and computers are the Intel VPro chips, they provide the ability for remote access and better yet, tracking of the hardware (desktop PC or laptop) http://www.intel.com/technology/vpro/index.htm. Combined these are a powerful tools for managing, remote work and locating computers. For them to be easily used software is added, one such software program is LoJack by Absolute Software.

Since not all computers have this technology (or similar) built in, 3rd party software programs have also been created to duplicate this process. After researching several programs I narrowed my tests down to Absolute Software’s LoJack. It works alone or in conjunction with laptops setup with TPM and VPro (which I highly recommend).

Let’s get to the meat of this article, after installing LoJack on my personal laptop and giving it a kick for 45 days, I figure I should report my basic results back to you.

First I want you to know, the software did not affect my laptops performance. It did not slow down standard operations (email, spreadsheets…) or internet usage. It has occasionally popped up a reminder that the software is on my laptop and included a one sentence recovery story, no big deal, it goes right away.

There are two versions of LoJack, the “Standard” and “Premium”, the latter adds a $1,000 guarantee plus better tracking. According to the Absolute Software web site, “If we don’t recover your stolen computer or enable the Data Delete service, you could be eligible for a Service Guarantee payment of up to $1000”. The difference in price is $39.99 for 1 year of the Standard and $59.99 for the Premium version. Three year subscriptions are available for $89.99 and 109.99 respectively, not a bad price for the services offered.

So what services are included you ask. I am glad you did. First and the most important in my opinion is the theft recovery, after all most of us who use laptops have our life on them. A great backup system will provide for the loss of data or even a complete system restore, but somehow our laptops become part of us. If you don’t believe it, just leave yours at home during a business day and see how you react, enough said. An advantage of LoJack is this is not a program you install and you track if lost or stolen (though you can log on to your account and track where the laptop has been). Absolute Software works with the police in recovering your laptop, one less worry or stressor in your life.

Another part of the LoJack program is what they term as “Data & Device Security”. This is Absolute software’s “Data Delete” portion. You use the Data Delete program to erase your information remotely. This keeps thieves out of your e-mail, personal documents and programs (such as your accounting software). If you don’t want to erase your computer, you can also prevent access to your computer by freezing it remotely and adding a pop up message on the screen telling the crooks you did so. I would not recommend this, you just gave away the chance of catching the thieves, once alerted they will ditch the laptop or destroy it and then ditch it.

The third part of LoJack is the ability to locate a missing laptop. The Standard version falls short here, it only shows IP address locations. This is a Generic “Springfield, Missouri” type location on a map, effective only if you travel a large area, not so great if you stay local. Plus it is not a big help to the police, they don’t have time to do all the work required narrowing down an IP location. The Premium version is supposed to give QPS to the exact location of the laptop on a map. Unfortunately I only tried the Standard version so I cannot report how well this works.

With either version you get to create an account on the Absolute Software web site where you can update your information, track the laptop, enable the protection services, by filing a missing laptop claim.

My take, LoJack is worth the expense. For such a small price you don’t need to replace a laptop, restore the data and feel violated, as you would otherwise would. It is easy to use, does not eat up system resources and is part of good plan for your data protection. Part of a plan you ask, yes, remember to backup your data, have surge protection, and have proper security, all things we have discusses here.

Until we meet again, have a virus free week!

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