View Full Version : why can't we make an internet-based theft-protection system for computers?

02-25-2005, 01:40 AM
Based on this unfortunate fellow's experience in the pit (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=304205), I started thinking - why hasn't somebody made something for computers that assigns an individualized number or PIN for your computer, based on your motherboard's individual ID, and then uploads it to a database somewhere. Then, if the computer is stolen, you report it as such, and the next time it connects to the internet, the IP address and everything else are traced, the location is reported to the authorities, and your PC is picked up?

02-25-2005, 02:59 AM
Agh... that's terrible...

Well, apparently (certain) computers have serial numbers that are used for this purpose... not that it helps much in such a case.

The idea is a bit Orwellian, though... there was quite an uproar when Intel put in some sort of identification in their processors a few years back, and I imagine this would prompt an even larger outcry.

Besides the politics, there's also the logistics. Although it wouldn't be at all impossible to set up the system, it could be quite a hassle to set it up well and sustain the massive attacks the system is likely to receive.

But maybe I'll start a company on the idea and try to get bought out by a large insurance company... :D

02-25-2005, 03:02 AM
I think there are systems like this already; AFAIK, they create and reside in some kind of custom boot sector and they are not erased by conventional reformatting or repartitioning of the hard drive; I'm not quite sure about the logistics of tracking.

02-25-2005, 03:49 AM
- - - There are already programs and services like this already. Three are Absolute Software's CompuTrace, Computer Sentry Software's CyberAngel, and zTrace Technologies' zTrace. There's at least one way to do the same thing on Macs as well. ....What they do is some variation on the principle that every-set-number of hours, if they are connected to the internet, they identify their IP address and send that data to a preprogrammed destination--either a security service, or some of the free programs will email the data to a pre-set email address. The pay services just log the locations unless your computer has been reported missing. These programs are installed at the root/kernel level and aren't detected by normal means. Of course, you still have to get all your ducks in a row--you need to identify the IP location, and get the police interested enough to help--but there are already "LoJack" type programs for computers.

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