1997-06-12 - Re: [CNN] Stolen Laptops and lame ‘solution’

Header Data

From: “Raymond Mereniuk” <raymond@wcs.net>
To: cypherpunks@Algebra.COM
Message Hash: f633fd5383acae4b981819937d81e0dbae2e155f8893ff1e5bc91f7a02b95ed2
Message ID: <199706112341.QAA05443@mat.wcs.net>
Reply To: <>
UTC Datetime: 1997-06-12 00:32:18 UTC
Raw Date: Thu, 12 Jun 1997 08:32:18 +0800

Raw message

From: "Raymond Mereniuk" <raymond@wcs.net>
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 1997 08:32:18 +0800
To: cypherpunks@Algebra.COM
Subject: Re: [CNN] Stolen Laptops and lame 'solution'
In-Reply-To: <>
Message-ID: <199706112341.QAA05443@mat.wcs.net>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

> >                     The call goes to a Canadian office
> >                     that in turn phones the cops. So far,
> >                     it has a 100 percent recovery rate. 
> >
> ======  100% of WHAT?  Systems with it installed which are stolen?   How
> would you know what systems do NOT call in?  
> It's like the question the clerk asks at the airport: "Did anyone put
> anything in your luggage you don't know anything about?"
> Now that the word is out, of course, the wily thief will eschew pluggin in
> until the hard drive is reformatted and installed
> with a clean OS.  As usual: the stupid will be caught. 

This has been discussed on this list before, about 1 year ago.  The 
Computrace software is installed on a place on the hard drive where 
DOS utilities like Fdisk and Format can not get at it.  This is the 
same as Diskmanager Version 7 or higher, Fdisk and Format will not 
remove this version of Diskmanager.

The Computrace software is configured to call the 1-800 number on a 
regular pre-assigned schedule and talk to the computers at Absolute 
Software.  If the notebook has been reported stolen the computers at 
Absolute will advise the subject unit to call back on a more frequent 
basis.  The Computrace software turns off all modem speaker 

With all calls to a 1-800 number the calling number is reported to 
the call receiving site.  This is always the case and the calling 
party has no control over this feature, it just happens as the 1-800 
number owner is paying for the call.  As a matter of interest this 
type of business could not be based in the USA as it is unlawful to 
use the calling number information gained through 1-800 calls for any 
business advantage or use, including this one.  However, US LEAs have 
no problem cooperating with Absolute Software and they do cooperate.

I have no connection to Absolute Software other than I visited their 
web site and I have a pretty good idea how they perform their 
promises.  I have no idea on how to remove the Computrace program 
unless it is on a Seagate or Western Digital hard drive.  Both of 
these manufacturers make low-level format programs for their IDE 
drive products available on their web sites and a low-level format 
will remove Diskmanager and I assume Computrace.

I assume most notebooks which are recovered are found to be in the 
hands of a buyer rather than the person responsible for the actual 
theft.  But, the eventual buyer is indirectly responsible for the 
initial theft of the notebook.


Raymond Mereniuk