A quick search of the web brings up these shocking statistics: A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds, more than 12,000 laptops disappear each week from U.S. airports alone and only 3% of laptops are ever returned (http://www.propeller.com/story/2008/11/24/interesting-laptop-theft-statistics/). Before you become a member of that sad statistical group, consider employing some anti-theft deterrent. Physically locking down your laptop is one way to keep your laptop from disappearing, but sometimes you can’t or don’t have an opportunity to lock it down. This is where laptop-tracking software comes into play.
LoJack best known for their Stolen Vehicle Recovery System have lent their name to Absolute Software’s tracking software. The LoJack for Laptops is a program and computer retrieval service that helps track, locate and recover stolen computers. The software works behind the scenes to silently and securely protect your Mac. If stolen, the machine can be remotely activated to contact the LoJack monitoring center every fifteen minutes. The Absolute Recovery Team will then track the location of the laptop and engage local law enforcement to recover and return your precious Mac
On the market there are plenty of tracking software options, but Absolute Software have developed relations with thousands of local law enforcement agencies giving them an distinct advantage over their competitors.
The LoJack for Laptops comes in a grey and red box with a fold out front cover, which describes the software and how in works in detail. Inside the packaging we find the installation CD and envelope. On the back of this envelope are the installation instructions and a Registration Code.
LoJack for Laptops involves a subscription service for tracking your stolen machine; there are two versions of the software; the Standard version includes a year subscription and the Premier version, which offers a three-year plan. The Premium version includes the Data Delete and Service Guarantee options. Data Delete allows remote erasure and overwriting of files on your Mac. This feature can prevent a thief from stealing your identity by getting rid of all personal files including photos, Internet bookmarks, browser cookies and stored passwords. The Service Guarantee provides up to $1000 “insurance” if your laptop or machine is not retrieved.
For today’s review, we will look at the Standard version. This version only provides a money back guarantee on the software, so if you Mac is irretrievable, then you only get back the $39.99 you paid for the LoJack software.
Some competing tracking software products do not require subscription services and rely on GPS and Wi-Fi localization to help track down your Mac. This type of tracking software requires the user do some legwork such as gathering iSight snapshots and Wi-Fi positioning before getting to the police involved, while with the Lojack for Laptops software, the LoJack Recovery team does all the work for you once you report your Mac stolen.
Computrace® LoJack for Laptops Standard is a software-based computer theft recovery service that:
Tracks and recovers lost or stolen computers.
Backed by the Absolute Theft Recovery Team.
If your computer is stolen, our Theft Recovery Team uses the software to track the stolen computer and provides local police with information they need to get it back and apprehend thieves.
What Have You Got To Lose?
Your brand new computer! In fact over 600,000 laptops are stolen every year, many from coffee shops, college campuses, hotel rooms and motor vehicles. Losing your computer is costly, even devastating. You lose the priceless photos, files and personal information you have on your computer.
Computrace Lojack For Laptops Works
We recover 3 out of 4 stolen computers.
Works on desktop computers too.
Let Us Do The Dirty Work
Other products might be able to tell you your computer’s location, but that’s just the first step in getting a thief behind bars and your computer back in your hands. Only Absolute Software’s Computrace® LoJack® for Laptops is backed by a professional Theft Recovery Team.
The Absolute Theft Recovery Team
Licensed private investigation agency
Staffed by former police officers and security professionals
Works directly with local law enforcement and Internet Service Providers
Uses information sent from the stolen computer to investigate, get evidence and assist local police with recovering your computer
Rest Assured With Our Theft Recovery Team
When a computer is stolen, one simple phone call gets the Theft Recovery Team working for you. Our team can find your stolen computer, because they have partnerships with over 1,000 police departments across North America.
With over 650 years of combined law enforcement experience, our Theft Recovery Team achieves the highest success rates in the industry – because they know how police investigations work.
Installation of LoJack for Laptops involves placing the CD into your Mac of choice, then clicking on the LoJack icon on your OS X desktop. This launches a flash player, which guides you through the installation and setup. Clicking on the Install LoJack for Laptops button will take you to the installation website. From here, select the Mac version of LoJack for Laptops, which downloads the installation, file. Double click on this file and enter the registration code that comes printed on the CD envelope when requested.
Follow the subsequent steps to complete the installation and account setup. The final part of the installation will require entering the Mac’s master password. You are finished when you reach the Installation Successful screen; from here you can go to the LoJack for Laptops website and check your account status. On this site you will be able to check My Subscription, My Profile, Report a Theft and get Support. In addition, there will be options for upgrading your version if you are below the Premium iteration. From My Subscription you are able to manually send a test call to make sure the Mac is able to transmit to the Recovery Center.
Absolute Software allows the license to be transferred from machine to machine. This is handy if you end up upgrading your Mac; you can uninstall and reinstall the software on your new machine.
So what happens if your Mac is stolen? According to Absolute Software you need to file a police report and file a Theft Report on the LoJack website. Once that is done, the Monitoring Center will then place your machine on High Alert status. This will activate the tracking software on the stolen Mac which will cause it to start calling the Monitoring Center every 15 minutes as long as the machine is on the Internet. All this activity will be invisible to the thief and there should be no record of this process happening for the criminal to stop or even notice.
The Recovery Team will then provide the proper law enforcement agency with the tracking information and documentation essential for obtaining search warrants and leading them to the location of your computer.
This sounds relatively simple. Unfortunately, if your Mac is not turned on or if the thief erases your hard drive, then the LoJack for Laptops software is rendered useless. Luckily there is a way to prevent the OS X hard drive from being erased. Apple has a built in deterrent to prevent that from occurring. Simply password protect your firmware – here is the link on how it is accomplished – http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1352. One drawback of the firmware password protection is it requires the password to use the Startup Manager, which is usually accessed by pressing the Option key during startup. If you are like me and use Boot Camp that becomes a bit of a hassle.
One major concern that I have about applications that can “phone” home is whether the software is actively monitoring my usage and what data are they sending and how often. Absolute Software’s response to this question is:
Once LoJack for Laptops is installed, during regular communication with our monitoring center; our software will collect some information from your computer. The information collected during our ‘monitoring’ is basically details of the computer, such as size of Memory, hard drive size, type of Processor, type of Operating System, user name and IP and Mac address.
The Make, Model and Serial number is collected during the initial installation.
There is no active monitoring of your computer until you report a theft. After a theft is reported we set alerts on our end to notify us when your computer has made contact with our monitoring center.
Unfortunately, testing this software would involve reporting my MacBook Pro stolen, so I was unable to field test the true power of the software. However, I was able to call the Recovery Department and they were kind enough to verify the last three IP addresses my machine was logged in from. They also confirmed the answers to several questions of the questions listed above including guaranteeing that the information sent to Absolute Software on the daily call was basically the IP address from which the Mac was logged into at that time.
I attempted to location any signs of the LoJack software on the machine. Checking the Activity Monitor and using the terminal with various commands, there was no indication of the tracking software running. Let’s face it; if your thief were intelligent enough to start hunting around your Mac using the command terminal, then they probably would be smart enough to format the hard drive too.
Obviously the best prevention to keep your Mac from being stolen is to physically lock it down and always keep it in your sight. That is not always possible so having tracking software such as LoJack for Laptops can provide additional piece of mind. Hopefully you will never have to test it out.
If you own a Mac especially a laptop model, then the LoJack for Laptops should be the first program you install on your computer. The statistics are frightening and more and more laptops are being stolen as they become more popular. You can’t be in front of your laptop 24/7 so why not have some piece of mind knowing your laptop can be tracked down by the best in the business. LoJack has years of experience in retrieving stolen vehicles and now PCs. Let them keep your Mac safe.
Tracking Software with extensive recovery experience
Works Silently in the background
Can be neutralized by formatting hard drive
Not active if Mac is not online