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MyLaptpGPS Blog

April 23, 2014
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Laptop Security Monthly

What is MyLaptopGPS?

Does it really work globally? How?
How do I use MyLaptopGPS software?
I password-protect my laptop. Isn't that enough?
Why doesn't MyLaptopGPS use regular satellites like my car GPS does?

Prevent

What is a SafeTag™? Do SafeTags really help deter theft?
Do I just stick on the SafeTag™ and I am done?
Do these little SafeTags have satellite GPS chips in them or something?

Track

What happens if my laptop does get stolen? Will I get my laptop back?
How do you physically apprehend the thief?
Can you just crash my stolen computer so that the thief cannot use it?
Can you send a message from me to the thief?
Will the thief know the software is running?
Will a thief actually connect to the Internet? What if I use a firewall?
What if the thief reformats the hard drive?

Recover

Can you protect my data from the thief? Can I get my files back?
What documents or information can you recover?
Does my computer have to be powered on in order to get my data?
How do you go about getting the recovered files onto my new computer?
How secure is your data center?

Destroy

Why would a thief want my data? Wouldn't he just erase everything?

Will it work with my laptop?

What are the system requirements?
What is this Microsoft .NET Framework?
Does MyLaptopGPS™ run on MacOS (Apple)?



What is MyLaptopGPS™?
MyLaptopGPS™ is computer software built to encrypt your data, covertly track your stolen computer worldwide, recover your data, and destroy the data on the stolen laptop over the Internet. It works over WiFi, cable, DSL, dial-up, cellular, and all other types of Internet connections. MyLaptopGPS coordinates with law enforcement to pursue stolen laptops.

Does it really work anywhere? Globally?
Yes. MyLaptopGPS™ has the capability to track stolen computers worldwide, return your valuable files to you over the Internet, then remove the data from the thief's hands. MyLaptopGPS can work indoors and outdoors—anywhere in the world where there is an Internet connection. So far, clients have been acquired on every continent in the world except Antarctica.

How does it work?
MyLaptopGPS™ uses a proprietary Internet homing technology and data transfer protocol to facilitate covert hardware tracking and data recovery.

How do I use MyLaptopGPS software?

1. Install MyLaptopGPS™ on your computer. The software runs covertly.

2. Rest assured that your data is safe.

3. If the computer does get stolen, alert the SafeRecovery Team™ immediately via telephone or online. The SafeRecovery Team will flag your machine as stolen.

4. As soon as the thief connects to the Internet, MyLaptopGPS™ locates your machine and removes all of your important files, right under the thief's nose. The files are returned to you via fully-encrypted transfer to our secure data center.

5. MyLaptopGPS™ continues to track your machine whenever it is connected to the Internet. Information about the global physical location of your stolen machine is relayed to law enforcement of jurisdiction in order to facilitate a surprise strike/raid on the thief's position if possible, in which case your actual computer itself is returned to you.

I password-protect my laptop. Isn't that enough?
No. First, there are several easy ways to bypass the regular system login process. Second, your data would remain in the hands of a thief. MyLaptopGPS™ helps recover your data—and destroys it in the thief's hands.

Why doesn't MyLaptopGPS™ use regular satellites like my car GPS does?

Tracking abilities: Current satellite-based GPS systems have crippling limitations when it comes to tracking stolen computers. When a laptop is stolen, two things typically happen: the laptop goes indoors, and it connects to the Internet. Thieves don't hang out in the public park with your laptop, and they don't steal your laptop to compose offline word processing documents. Satellite-based GPS units do not work effectively indoors. MyLaptopGPS™ does.

Recover your data: Satellite-based GPS units do not transfer your data. When your laptop gets stolen, the physical hardware is the least of your concerns. Your data is worth up to 300 times more than your hardware. Plus, your computer contains all sorts of information about you: e-mail, financial data and statements, passwords, client data, confidential business data, and contact information. Satellite-based GPS offers no ability to transfer this valuable data back to you and take it out of the thief's hands. MyLaptopGPS™ recovers these vital business documents and destroys them from the stolen laptop.

Electrical power and tracking realities: Satellite-based GPS units require considerable electrical power. Losing GPS battery would quickly limit your ability to track your stolen laptop.

Satellite-based GPS units in the real world do not work like they do in Hollywood movies. In your favorite movie, the hero probably plants a beacon in the thief's car, follows the thief, then saves the day. Reality is not so easy. Even if your laptop is stolen and used outside, law enforcement does not drive around with a radar screen that takes them within a foot of your laptop. Law enforcement needs probable cause and evidence, and it helps to have a real street address, particularly for a search warrant. MyLaptopGPS™ provides a street address. Welcome to Hollywood.

Cost: Satellite-based GPS units are expensive. MyLaptopGPS™ works much better, for a fraction of the price.

Prevent

What is a SafeTag™? Do SafeTags really help defer theft?
A SafeTag™ is a permanent property label that affixes to your laptop or desktop computer. The SafeTag™ bears a globally-unique "SafeTag number" and contact information for our SafeRecovery Team™ (both phone and web). When you register your SafeTag™ online once you receive it, we have a way to trace the property back to you in the event of a police raid or a found item. Most importantly, the SafeTag™ serves as a bold warning and deterrent to potential thieves: this property is marked and police trackable.

Do SafeTags™ really stop theft?
Yes. Like home alarm system yard signs, SafeTags™ are warnings that help deter crime. Thieves want an easy target, not one that is monitored and tracked. Thieves have a brief window of opportunity—usually only 20 seconds long (we call it the Twenty Second Window)—and warning signs and labels indicate that the property is not wide open and unprotected. The thief will likely move on to an easier, less risky target. Need proof? Look at our 0.004 (0.4%) theft rate.

Won't a thief just remove the SafeTag™?
No. SafeTags are permanent. SafeTags use an adhesive (3M 300LSE) that is strong enough to replace welding. If it does come off, it will damage the stolen property (not appealing for a thief). Additionally, a thief cannot remove what he does not possess. A thief has about 20 seconds to determine whether or not to steal your machine. Thieves generally do not want to steal SafeTagged, trackable items and choose an easier, less risky target. A thief cannot remove what he does not possess.

How do I get started using the system after I sign up?
The system comes with come with instructions. Register your SafeTag™ online in your account. Carefully apply it according to the instructions to ensure permanent adhesion. Install MyLaptopGPS™ software on each machine and walk away.

Do I just stick on the SafeTag™ and I am done?
No. Please follow the instructions that come with the system.

Do these little SafeTags™ have satellite GPS chips in them or something?
NO. SafeTags™ do not have satellite-based GPS transmitters embedded in them. They have been specifically designed not to use electronics.

Track

What happens if my laptop does get stolen? Will I get my laptop back?

What should I do if my laptop is stolen?
The best, fastest response is to login to your account here at our website and flag the machine as stolen. Or, you may call us at (800)963-1137 or contact us here to flag your machine as stolen. We also highly recommend that you change as many of your passwords as you can. If you store financial information on your computer, contact your bank and credit card companies.

Can you recover my laptop hardware itself?
Yes, we can. Much here depends on the circumstances of the theft itself, and timing. The SafeRecovery Team™ works with law enforcement in the area where your computer is located (where the thief is) to zero in on a bust. If law enforcement personnel are successful in the raid, then your machine is on its way back to you.

How do you physically apprehend the thief?
The SafeRecovery Team™ coordinates with law enforcement of jurisdiction in the location where your stolen laptop has been pinpointed, to provide necessary information to obtain a search warrant, and law enforcement personnel do the dirty work of apprehending the thief.

Do law enforcement agencies cooperate with you?
Yes, in general. One nice thing about MyLaptopGPS™ is that even though our SafeRecovery Team™ is working on your behalf to coordinate law enforcement for the apprehension of the thief and recovery of your hardware, experienced law enforcement agencies know that when they bust the thief they are very likely to find a whole cache of other stolen goods, not to mention all sorts of other illegal behavior. Thus the MyLaptopGPS™ system may lead to the solution of a good number of open theft cases.

Can you just crash my stolen computer so that the thief cannot use it?
We can delete critical system files and make things hard on the thief. If you ask us to, we will. But, remember that the longer the thief stays connected to the Internet with your laptop, the longer we have to recover your files and work with law enforcement to bust the thief.

Can you send a message from me to the thief?
Yes, we can. You can give the thief a piece of your mind. But, again, remember that the longer the thief stays connected to the Internet with your laptop, the longer we have to recover your files and work with law enforcement to bust the thief. You don't want to tip him off that "something's up."

Will the thief know the software is running?
No. MyLaptopGPS™ runs covertly to track your laptop.

Will a thief actually connect to the Internet?
Yes. Thieves don't steal your laptop to type documents and play solitaire. Generally, a thief will connect to the Internet within days. Your stolen laptop makes a nice tool for the thief to use for online theft, gambling (especially if he now has your financial information), piracy, or other illicit activities. If the thief does not connect, his buyer will. Rarely will your machine stay offline permanently.

Is MyLaptopGPS™ compatible with my firewall (including ZoneAlarm™)?
Yes. In general, MyLaptopGPS™ works with any OS-based firewall, such as the varieties used with Windows™. As explained earlier, network firewalls themselves (on network borders) are not a problem. If you have a firewall running your computer itself, you will need to make sure that when you install MyLaptopGPS™ you "allow" it to access the network. Most firewalls will prompt you the first time a new application tries to gain access, asking if you want to allow the application. Once you have allowed it, it is permanently allowed (see your firewall manufacturer's documentation if necessary).

What if the thief reformats the hard drive?
MyLaptopGPS™ does not offer BIOS-level installation, to "survive" a reformat, nor do we have any plans to do so.

The reason is simply because the feature bears almost no benefit to actual theft scenarios in the real world, both mathematically/statistically and conceptually.

Hard drive reformat survival is a handy marketing tactic, but does not actually benefit real-world security, at more than a nominal level. Plus, it is fairly easy to defeat--just search Google for a few minutes regarding how to do so.

In actual practice, here's how it breaks down:

1) MyLaptopGPS™ boasts a 0.004 real-world theft rate. That's 4 in 1,000 laptops stolen, but 996 out of 1,000 laptops safely in the possession of their rightful owners.


2) If one assumes that 25% of those stolen units will be reformatted, which is actually a very generous assumption, this would yield 1 in the 4, and thus 1 in 1,000 laptops overall, since MyLaptopGPS™ has a 0.004 theft rate.

So far, then, BIOS-level protection is a feature that, when MyLaptopGPS' 0.004 theft rate is considered, would only affect 1 in 1,000 laptops.

Just 1 in 1000 laptops are even affected in the first place—hardly a worthwhile priority.


3) Nevertheless, in theory, consider if a thief did steal, and did reformat—consider that one single laptop out of 1,000. In such a case, the sensitive data on the laptop is gone—the thief has done that himself! Thus, even in 1 out of 1,000 laptops (the "worst case" scenario), the end result is safe data.

The BIOS-level feature thus bears a negligible benefit for real-world protection and, even when it does bear a benefit, it is entirely related to hardware recovery, assisting recovery of hardware only (keyboard, screen, motherboard, case).

As the highly-publicized Ponemon Institute study "The Cost of a Lost Laptop" re-confirms, the average damage of one laptop theft is $49,246, but 96.8% of that cost is unrelated to the laptop hardware itself—it's the data that damages. Thus, most MyLaptopGPS™ clients focus on the data on their laptops—that's where $50,000 damage occurs when a theft happens.

Getting the hardware back thus pales in comparison, yet BIOS-level hard drive reformat survival does nothing except to help recover the hardware (and even that is only in one in 1,000 cases thanks to our 0.004 theft rate). Plus, a few minutes of Google searching shows that BIOS-embedded protection is fairly easy to defeat. So, any thief who knows how to use a search engine could defeat BIOS-embedded tracking if he really wanted to. That's hardly a panacea for protection.

MyLaptopGPS™ is the ultimate solution for protecting the data on a stolen laptop, as well as the hardware (0.004 theft rate). BIOS protection does essentially nothing to assist this capability.

Does MyLaptopGPS™ work over wireless links (WiFi, etc.)?
Absolutely. The system works over any Internet connection. If your laptop connects to any Internet connection, MyLaptopGPS™ goes to work.

What if the thief is on a private network (with gateway) or behind a firewall?
No problem. MyLaptopGPS™ is not defeated by "NAT" gateways and firewalls. The SafeRecovery Team™ not only knows the outside "public" Internet location of your stolen computer, but also knows the internal location. This is handy when the thief joins a large campus network or other private network.

Is MyLaptopGPS™ compatible with my anti-virus software?
Yes, in general. The same notes apply here as in the above question regarding firewalls.

Recover

Can you protect my data from the thief? Can I get my files back?
Yes, we can. As soon as your computer is connected to the Internet, MyLaptopGPS™ goes to work.

What documents or information can you recover?
We can access generally any portion of your computer's hard drive that is accessible to Windows™. That means, generally, we can recover just about anything you want.

Does my computer have to be powered on in order to get my data?
Yes.

How do you go about getting the recovered files onto my new computer?
Your recovered files are transferred into our secure data center using bank-grade 128-bit SSL data encryption. You can then either download your files online, or in some cases, we can e-mail the files to you (large files are not suitable for e-mail).

How secure is your data center?
Our data center has strictly monitored access using keycard protocols, biometric scanning protocols, and continuous interior and exterior surveillance.

Access limited to data center personnel only, without exception. All data center employees undergo thorough background security checks before being employed.

Precision Environment:

Our secure data center employs only certified networking and security teams that are thoroughly experienced in managing and monitoring enterprise level networks. Our data center protects your valuable data with specialized air filters that remove dust and contaminates. An advanced fire suppression system is employed, designed to stop fires from spreading in the unlikely event one should occur. All cables are securely tied down with cable racks suspended from ceilings providing dual routes for all cables. In the unlikely event of a total utility power outage, the data center's power systems are designed to run uninterrupted with all servers being fed conditioned UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) power. The UPS power subsystem is N+1 redundant, with instantaneous failover if primary UPS fails. For extended utility power outages, routinely tested, on-site diesel generators can run indefinitely.

Destroy

Why would a thief want my data? Wouldn't he just erase everything?
A thief could use your data to steal your identity, your clients' or customers' identities, your confidential business documents, trade secrets, and more. That's why you need that information returned to you and then destroyed.

Will it work with my laptop?

What are the system requirements?
Please see the system requirements page.

What is this Microsoft .NET Framework™?
Microsoft .NET is Windows software that is used to help run most newer Windows applications. The Microsoft .NET Framework™ version 2.0 is required to run MyLaptopGPS™ and it provides certain functions and services to the system. If you do not already have the Microsoft .NET Framework™ 2.0 installed on your computer, then Windows will pause the MyLaptopGPS™ installation process to download and install the framework.

Does MyLaptopGPS™ run on MacOS™ (Apple)?
YES, we support Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and 10.6 (Snow Leopard).