Lenovo introducing SMS disable to Thinkpad

Starting in 2009, Lenovo's ThinkPad laptops will be programmed with a feature that allows a stolen or lost laptop to be completely disabled by a simple SMS text message. It's reversible: if you somehow manage to reclaim your laptop, all data and functionality can be restored by a resurrection code. It's a nice little security feature, but the drawback is obvious: your laptop needs to be tied to a data plan and contain an installed WAN card. So the extra security has a monthly fee. It also means the first thing canny thieves will do when they steal a Thinkpad is pop out the SIM card, but there's realistically slim chance of that: most thieves are idiots. Still, wouldn't a better security measure be not only to disable the laptop, but secretly phone home with location coordinates once the code is activated? eWeek - Lenovo ThinkPad Notebooks Will Use Text Messages for Additional Security [eWeek via OhGizmo!]
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5 Responses to Lenovo introducing SMS disable to Thinkpad

  1. Daniel Rutter says:

    I think a better security option would be plain old disk encryption. This also has the advantage that, unlike this “completely disabled” feature, it will not cause the thief to just throw your laptop in the river.

    Any security system that makes your property genuinely useless to the person who’s stolen it is very likely to make it certain that you will never get that property back.

  2. Ari B. says:

    At the risk of sounding like the motorola shill from the other day, I’ve installed a theft recovery program on my Macbook. If my laptop gets stolen, I go to the company’s website and activate the program. The next time the laptop goes online, it phones home with it’s current IP address, and the built in webcam takes photos of its surroundings. The company also liases with local law enforcement to aid in recovery.

    (I use orbicule’s Undercover program [orbicule.com], but I’ve also seen a similar program sold by Lojack.)

  3. kaosmonkey says:

    Seriously…if history is any indication, the first thing the laptop thief will do is take a picture of himself smiling proudly and put it on the desktop.

  4. technogeek says:

    There are free versions of the IP-based recovery tool; at least one’s administered by a university. (Sorry, I don’t have the URI handy; can dig it out tonight.)

    Speaking of IP: Why not do this shutdown/restart via IP? I know, that requres the machine be up when it gets the ping — or that it “phone home” at startup to a central authorization database — but at the very least that strikes me as a good fallback.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “Still, wouldn’t a better security measure be not only to disable the laptop, but secretly phone home with location coordinates once the code is activated?”

    …but then you wouldn’t have to buy a new thinkpad, would you?

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