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6/20/2005
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Another Use For Wi-Fi: Finding Stolen Laptops

Skyhook Wireless has developed technology that uses Wi-Fi to find stolen mobile devices--a positive step in the war against identity thieves and other cybercriminals.

Skyhook Wireless Inc. rolled out a wide area positioning system today that uses Wi-Fi networks to locate the whereabouts of laptops, smart phones, and other mobile devices. The vendor claims that its product is the first positioning system to use Wi-Fi rather than satellite or cellular-based technologies.

The technology, which Skyhook will market to device manufacturers and application developers, could be used to help companies locate stolen or lost mobile devices that contain sensitive information such as customer data.

Skyhook's Wi-Fi Positioning System is a reference database of more than 1.5 million private and public access points located across 25 metropolitan areas in the United States. Skyhook's software client uses the database to locate devices within 20 to 40 meters. CyberAngel Security Solutions Inc., a provider of laptop recovery products, is developing software based on Skyhook's Wi-Fi Positioning System to help businesses and individuals identify the exact location of stolen laptops. The software is slated for broad availability in September.

CyberAngel has set up a security-monitoring center where laptops equipped with CyberAngel's authentication client are supervised. When authentication is broken during the log-in or boot-up process, CyberAngel's Wi-Fi Tracker will use Skyhook's Wi-Fi Positioning System to get a location reading of a laptop. Laptops are not only expensive, they also contain important information such as customer or business data that can be misused by identity thieves and others. Says CyberAngel president Bradley Lide, "Unprotected encrypted information in the hands of the wrong person could be compromised and used to proliferate identity theft, which is a growing concern."

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