Blowing the Whistle on Laptop Theft
Computerworld - We've all heard the horror stories about executives' laptops being stolen from airports, cars or park benches often enough to know that it is indeed a serious problem. According to a 1999 survey of large corporations and government agencies conducted by the Computer Security Institute, a San Francisco-based association of security and network professionals, 57% of respondents reported losses resulting from laptop theft.
Replacing a laptop costs a relatively small amount of money, but the cost of compromising or revealing corporate data on that laptop can be significant, and a stolen laptop may grant access to a company's internal networks or virtual private networks.
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How'd They Do That?
The tiny tilt-motion sensor that makes Caveo Anti-Theft work is the ADXL-202E, a low-power, low-cost, solid-state accelerometer made by Analog Devices Inc. in Norwood, Mass. The device stems from the same technology that's used to trigger the inflation of air bags in automobiles.
While there are lots of antitheft devices on the market [Exec Tech, Feb. 7, 2000], they all suffer from one major flaw: They require the user to do something unnatural and inconvenient, like locking the laptop to a table or waiting-room chair with a rather bulky cable, then unlocking it when moving to another location. IT managers know that such security measures are important, so they buy the locks and cables. But they also know that most users will stop using them after the first few timesif they ever use them at all.
Caveo Technology LLC has a different answer, and it's very cool. This may be the first laptop antitheft technology that will actually work in the real world. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company's Caveo Anti-Theft device incorporates a solid-state motion-sensor memory, sound-producing unit and microcontroller, along with two levels of password protection augmented by a "motion password."
Proprietary software analyzes the computer's motion history and, based on user-selected parameters, determines if the unit is being carried beyond its normal perimeterthat is, if a theft is under way.
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