Thursday, February 26, 2009

New software harrasses laptop thieves

If your laptop has been stolen, you can remotely yell at the thief and interfere with his use of the computer.

Front Door Software's Retriever program displays your contact information as your computer boots up. There's even space for a plea to a Good Samaritan - "$50 for my safe return."

In most cases, that's enough to help an honest person return the machine, said Carrie Hafeman, chief executive of the company.

But Retriever can get tougher.

You can log on to a Website and check a box indicating the computer is missing. Now during start-up, a big yellow and red banner appears on the screen, boldly declaring the laptop lost or stolen. This message is set to reappear every 30 seconds, no matter how many times the thief closes the window.

You can remotely switch on a second password prompt if you fear the thief has also stolen your regular password.

Behind the scenes, Retriever uses built-in Wi-Fi to sniff out nearby networks, then figure out what Internet service providers power them. With that information you can file a police report and get help locating the criminal.

While waiting for law enforcement to come through, you can even let off steam by sending new messages to the nagging "Stolen Computer!" screen, such as "You are being tracked. I am right at your door."

The latest version of Retriever, which costs $29.95 for three years of use, is even more aggressive.

Now, when the "stolen" screen pops up, the laptop cries for help. Use a canned message ("Help, this laptop is reported lost or stolen. If you are not my owner, please report me now.") or record your own.

You can say, "Get your hands off me, you S.O.B." (info from The Associated Press)

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Computer Rental Company said...

Great article. It was very informative.

This is a good response to the increasing cases of laptop thefts. Hopefully, this would eventually eliminate these criminal activities.