Many of us have heard of “lojack” and I admit when I first heard of LoJack for my car I was a little worried about how this information may be used. Watching the movie “FreeJack” with Emilio Estevez, Rene Russo, Mick Jagger and Anthony Hopkins did nothing to increase my acceptance of this technology.
Later, when I purchased my little Jack, a West Highland White Terrier I found out I could get my dog “lojacked” with a computer microchip that should he get lost or stolen could be used to locate him. I admit, this was different, and I had it installed on my dog, after all we wouldn’t want our family pet to be lost. But what about Lo Jack for my computer? Would a service like LoJack for Laptops protect my laptop, me and my information?
According to FBI statistics, a laptop is stolen about every 53 seconds and 97% of them are never recovered. Another leading crime is identity theft and it is not a jump in logic to see that the theft of a laptop, could easily lead to a theft of your identity. Think for just a moment of all the information you have stored on your laptop computer for both personal and professional use. With the theft of your lap top, an identity theft is not far behind, and you have handed these thieves all the information they may need, from personal information such as your address, birthdate and telephone number to important credit information such as credit cards and debts. For just a minute think also of all the information you have stored on your computer about your friends, family, employees or business. The theft of your laptop is like writing a blank check and handing it to a stranger on the street.
Since only 3% of stolen personal computers are recovered by traditional means, is it possible to improve those odds and get back your laptop computer and reducing your risks of identity theft? If so, Absolute software may be the answer with their offering of LoJack for Laptops, a stolen computer recovery service.
To locate a stolen computer, users of the Absolute Software Lojack system call the800 number or access another computer to report it to LoJack online. You laptop then goes on the Absolute Software’s “most wanted” list.
Absolute can determine the location of your computer as it “checks in” with Absolute in Vancouver, much the way a GPS system provides information about your location and directions to a destination. If someone uses your computer to go on line using a dial up modem, it can identify the phone number and trace the address. If the thief uses a broadband connection, Absolute can track the IP address and locate a street address with cooperation from the internet service provider.
Once your laptop computer is located, LoJack’s recovery team, made up of all ex-cops, then connects with area law enforcement and informs them of the location of the stolen laptop. The question is will law enforcement respond? After all they may not feel that the recovery of a stolen laptop computer to be a priority.
A representative from LoJack confessed, “At the beginning, we wondered whether law enforcement would really care about laptops. But they were very supportive. Property theft is a situation where they don’t get a lot of success. But this is stolen property with a built-in electronic tip where it’s located. They also realized that, in 5% of the cases, at the location they go to, other criminal activity is taking place.”
One report regarding a stolen computer in McKinney, Texas, helped local police recover not only the stolen laptop, but locate an illegal chop shop, complete with drugs and weapons.
CompUSA has LoJack for Laptops and Absolute Software says they hope to add new retailers. It is $49.99 for a year or $99.00 for three years of protection. When you purchase the LoJack service the program is available on an installable CD-Rom.
To set up LoJack: Install the discs, Call the 800 numbers in Vancouver, British Columbia and they will tell you where your computer is as well as activate your service.
How can LoJack protect you from identity theft?
LoJack can within seconds wipe your hard drive or any of the software and data from your computer clean, however you have to instruct them to do so and grant permission. To some this is a comfort, but it can be a little scary when you think of all the information that will be lost. The important thing is that it will also be lost from identity theft also. Even if you do not use this service, it is important to have copies of whatever information and software you have on your computer so that in the event of loss or theft you aren’t left “data less”
What are some issues with LoJack?
For most this service is easy to use and install. However, those with older operating systems including Windows98 had problems. In order to resolve these problems it was necessary to access a version that works with Windows98 from the LoJack for Laptops web site.
MAC’s can obtain a corporate version of LoJack, but not a consumer version. However, a consumer version is being developed.
How effective is LoJack for Laptops? They report a 90% recovery rate. However, it is a fairly new system and objective reports are not available.
LoJack for Laptops is a new and exciting option in stolen laptop and personal computer recovery; after all we use GPS to locate our cars and people, even using a GPS chip in many cell phones. The use of a Lojack service such as this one is definitely something to consider that could reduce the risks of identity theft and increase the chances of having your computer returned to you if it is stolen. It could be especially effective and useful, especially to those like me who travel or have their entire small business working off their laptop computer. At the very least you may not have to purchase a new computer, if yours is recovered, a small investment to protect yourself from thousands of dollars and hours in losses.