Lenovo recently launched a free "Lost and Found" service for customers who install Absolute Software's Computrace on their computer systems. This new services makes it very, very easy for lost ThinkPads to be returned by good Samaritans.
Computrace, helps your computer get found, if it's stolen by thieves. Whereas, "Lost and Found" is an additional service to enable those who find your computer and want to return it to you, to easily return it to you.
I think anyone that has very sensitive data and wants to ensure their computer can be returned should use a "LoJack" like service to ensure your computer can be returned.
David Strom recounts this story in his 6 October, WebInformant newsletter. After you read his story you'll probably hope your computer gets stolen so you can have fun in spying on the thieves before the police bust them.
Greg Hemig, the operator and owner Sacramento VAR, Capital Computer Guys, has been a Kaseya customer for years and tries to get all of his PC support clients to install the Kaseya agent on their machines. This agent can do a lot of different things, such as remotely control the machine, update drivers, and install a keylogger to keep track of what the user is doing.
Most people use it for fairly benign purposes but Hemig figured out quickly after the laptops were stolen that he could use the software to track down where the machines were being used.
Which he did. He was able to gather all sorts of information from them once they connected to the Internet -
"I was able to find out not just an IP address, which is what a typical anti-theft product like LoJack would provide, but an actual physical address, the names of the user's girlfriend and family, how to access their bank accounts, and even turn on the microphone on the laptop and listen to what they were saying while they were typing." Scary stuff, but within two weeks of contacting law enforcement, he was able to get back both machines to their original owners.
The hardest part about the whole process wasn't collecting the information, but convincing the cops that he was legit and that they needed to act to retrieve the PCs. Both laptops didn't travel very far from their original locations - one was only 20 miles away.
Hemig charges $30 a month per PC to support his customers, and has more than 600 PCs under management in this fashion. That is a nice piece of business, and something that more VARs should consider.
"It makes me more competitive, and it was the same price that I used to charge for break/fix work, but now I can deliver a lot better service to my customers," he says. "I think traditional tech support companies are going to disappear soon. Certainly, having Kaseya has changed my business completely. I almost wish my laptop would be stolen just to try to find it."
Kaseya may be new as an anti-theft device, but it made it a lot easier to recover the laptops. And the company is looking into providing other tools to help its VARs in similar circumstances.
Ramon Ray is the editor and tech evangelist for Smallbiztechnology.com