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Lost your laptop? The CyberAngel® brings it back
By Laura Taylor
November 19, 2001

If you're like a lot of people, your laptop is one of the most important of your personal or work possessions. If it got stolen or lost, you'd want it back. A company known as Computer Sentry Software, Inc. has designed an innovative option for laptop recovery. With laptop theft on the rise, investing in an affordable laptop recovery package is well worth the investment. According to Safeware Insurance,a company that insures against theft, laptop theft rose 21% from 1999 to 2000.

Computer Sentry Software, Inc. based in Nashville, Tennessee, was founded in 1996 by actor Robert Urich and Dyrk Halstead after Robert Urich's son's laptop was stolen. Today, the company is providing it's services and software all across the nation, having distributed over 50,000 licenses of its CyberAngel® Security Software.

The CyberAngel® works through installation of client software on your laptop and registration with a security monitoring server. Using a password entry system, The CyberAngel® communicates to the security monitoring server whenever the password entry is violated, reporting the phone number or IP address that the computer called from. The engineering assumption for The CyberAngel® is that at some point, the stolen laptop will be connected to a modem or a network connection (LAN, WAN, Cable Modem, DSL Circuit) on the Internet. Once the password entry system is violated, the Com Ports are blocked from the "unauthorized user," preventing them any access to online accounts or remote corporate servers. Additionally, when a violation has occurred, The CyberAngel® can encrypt selected directories to protect confidential information and data residing on the hard drive.

It is often the case that Computer Sentry's customers do not want their employees to know that this product has been installed on their laptops, and they work with IT decision makers who purchase their product to install the software in a covert manner, such that the employees do not know that security software has been installed on their system. A large percentage of Computer Sentry's customers are concerned with internal theft, often more than external theft.

The CyberAngel® runs in stealth mode, and is not visible in the process table. The filenames are hidden, and only someone who understands where and how to locate the hidden files will be able to find them. When The CyberAngel password entry system is violated, the security features activate. The unauthorized user is blocked from any dial-up modem capability, user selected files are encrypted, and the software initiates communication to the security monitoring server. The security monitoring server then generates an unauthorized usage notification to the registered user / client.

When the computer calls the security monitoring server to report an unauthorized access, it is able to identify the phone number and / or IP address that the computer calls from. Using a technology similar to 911 centers, The CyberAngel® is still able to determine the dial-out phone number, even is the user has Caller-ID blocking. Since all phone numbers can be mapped to a physical location, locating the laptop is usually very straightforward after the phone number has been identified. When the user reports that computer as stolen, reports are generated that identify the registered name, physical address, and even a map that correlates to the phone number and / or IP address that the computer called from. Computer Sentry works with local police forces, supplying all the paper work and information they need to do a search and recovery. Computer Sentry Software, Inc. has been 100% successful in helping its customers obtain the needed search warrant and subpoenas.

After a recent CyberAngel® recovery, North Little Rock, Arkansas police detective Jim Scott said, "This made the recovery of the property amazingly easy. If they hadn't had it [The CyberAngel] then we wouldn't have found it," said Tara Shepperson, Executive Director of the CyberCrime Task Force of the Nevada Attorneys General Office. Shepperson went on to say, "We get a lot of complaints about stolen computers, but often they don't involve the loss of enough money to investigate because (law enforcement agencies) are overworked. Software like The CyberAngel® is the wave of the future in fighting these crimes."

For organizations that deploy laptop recovery software enterprise-wide, it is possible to obtain a savings on your systems loss insurance policy. If you have an anti-theft device installed on your laptop such as The CyberAngel®, Safeware Insurance, will give you a 20% discount on its computer loss insurance policy.

The biggest drawback for the CyberAngel® is that the laptop has to be connected to a phone line or network connection in order to be tracked and recovered. Another drawback is that if the disk has been reformatted before the laptop connects to the Internet, the recovery software will be wiped out -- however, statistics from the FBI and Computer Security Institute show that 95% of recovered stolen laptops are not reformatted, and the data and information is intact. Right now The CyberAngel® can only protect systems that run on Microsoft Window's 95, 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000, and XP platforms within North America.

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