Intel's Anti-Theft technology is now in its fourth generation. More than anything, it's intended to prevent unauthorized parties from getting sensitive data by bricking a machine before its contents can be compromised. Sometimes, that might mean the system doesn't get recovered. But more important than the one or two thousand dollars of lost hardware is the potentially-priceless value of financial documents, customer lists, privileged medical records, and other information you simply cannot afford to have fall into the wrong hands.
Particularly as notebooks in general become viable desktop replacements that employees take with them on the road and then dock at home, theft becomes a larger issue. It's just not all that difficult to abscond with a two-pound Ultrabook. Should a thief snag your notebook at an airport, in a coffee shop, or on the subway, you simply call your help desk or Anti-Theft service provider, let them know, and they're able to push a poison pill, disabling the hardware immediately. Should the system be recovered, it's then possible to reverse the process.
Anti-Theft has its own list of requirements. First, you need to have hardware support. Intel pushes this feature aggressively, but not all OEMs enable it. A service subscription is also necessary. Once you pick a vendor for Anti-Theft service, your compatible hardware has to synchronize with the company's servers to activate protection. A quick glance at the Management Engine's Anti-Theft screen on our machine tells us that the feature is available, but not active.
Intel's Anti-Theft information page features four service vendors: Intel, McAfee (now Intel-owned), Symantec, and Absolute Software.
Intel has its own Anti-Theft service, which makes sense when you consider that the company sells hardware but still depends on a reliable software solution. By priming the market with its own offering, Intel enables a baseline service customers can lean on to take advantage of Anti-Theft.
McAffee, now an Intel subsidiary, currently offers a beta implementation. You can sign-up for it and get 90 days of protection under the beta program.
LoJack is probably best known as an automotive brand, but it's now being used to market a service for Intel's Anti-Theft technology. You can sign up for between one and three years of service with different features. All levels allow for location, locking, remote data deletion, and recovery. The premium offerings include an up-to-$1000 guarantee if Absolute doesn't recover the hardware or has to enable Data Delete.
Finally, Symantec has its own Norton Anti-Theft. Most people already know Symantec and its Norton brand for its anti-virus and security suites, so extending the family to include Anti-Theft is pretty logical.
Personally, I have several friends who have located lost phones with various mobile services. One thing they all had in common was never using the recovery interface prior to losing their devices. So, next, we'll look at what remotely locking a machine with Anti-Theft looks like.
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