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Wi-Fi-Based Laptop Theft Protection Gains Customers

CyberAngel Wi-Trac laptop recovery service encrypts data after a theft report or three failed login attempts.

CyberAngel Security Solutions, a laptop security company, and Skyhook Wireless, provider of the Wi-Fi Positioning System, Monday said several new corporate customers have signed up for the CyberAngel Wi-Trac laptop recovery service.

The organizations include Brown University, Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, OneLegacy, Rutgers University, Sparrow Hospital, Transplant Resource Center, U.S. Army Labs, and the University of Central Florida.

These organizations are hoping to keep their laptops from disappearing, or at least to get them back without data loss if they do get stolen. More than 600,000 laptops are lost or stolen annually, according to Safeware, an insurance agency that specializes in portable electronics coverage.

Introduced in January, CyberAngel Wi-Trac monitors login attempts on Windows notebook computers using the company's security software. When user authentication fails three times or upon the first authentication attempt following a theft report, the CSS software sends a report to the CSS monitoring center and encrypts data on the designated secure drive.

About two years ago, CSS had an 89% recovery rate, said CEO Bradley Lide, but that declined because the proliferation of open wireless routers made it more difficult for the company to direct police to the right address -- laptop thieves sometimes accessed the Internet using stolen Wi-Fi signals. About 65% of residential networks are wireless and some 38% of those are unsecured, Lide said.

Last year, CSS recovered over 100 laptops, a success rate of about 80%, said Lide.

By integrating Skyhook Wireless' WPS technology, CSS can now provide police with the location of a stolen laptop within about 10 meters. "We're able to develop a longitude and latitude based on the Wi-Fi signal strength," explained Lide.

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