Friday, August 19, 2011

Software Can Help You Catch A Thief, But There's A Catch!

Recently I posted the article  “Lock Your Computer? Really? Why?” in which I discussed the importance of password protecting your computer, especially if it contains sensitive information that might harm others if a not so honest person got their hands on it.

Shortly after I wrote that I downloaded an excellent software application (MacKeeper) and loaded it into my own computer. It not only guards the computer from harmful viruses and cleans the hard drive, but it can also track the computer’s location if it’s lost or stolen. How? When the computer is used by the nefarious person who has it a signal is sent to a nearby cell tower and the police are notified of the location so it’s easy to retrieve. Theoretically, the bad guy also gets caught in the process.

Excellent function, but the computer won’t send its little SOS signal if the computer is password protected. Why not? Because the person who’s got the computer won’t be able to use it; ergo, no signal, no notification, no finding it.

A smartphone has this same “find me” capability built into it, and if this function is enabled the device can be password protected without losing the ability to locate it, send a message to it, or even wipe the data completely from the unit. I encourage people to do this since a smartphone can easily be lost or stolen, and with it the address book that contains friends’ personal information, etc, (see “You Lock Your House, Lock Your Smartphone Too”). While a computer probably also contains this information, it needs to be actively functioning for the “find me” signal to go out.  

WHAT'S THE DILEMMA?
Finding a lost or stolen computer sounds terrific! What's the dilemma? Ah, here it is: Should the computer's password protection be activated to safeguard its contents or should you leave the computer's contents accessible so it can do its “find me” thing if someone else has it? 


For discussion purposes, let's assume that all the data the computer contains is backed up so if you never see it again you will be able to retrieve its contents onto a new computer. It’s now a question of whether or not you're willing to let others have access to the information it contains.


So again, the question is whether or not to password protect your computer if this will disable the "find me" function. Only you can answer this for yourself. 


My thinking is that if you don't keep highly sensitive information like bank account and credit card numbers, or viewable passwords on your computer, making it retrievable is a good thing. On the other hand, it does have your friends' and family's personal information on it. And, will the police actually use their limited resources to help you find a computer? Maybe they'll even catch a criminal in the process, but will they? It truly is a dilemma. I welcome your thinking...





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The information contained herein is for guideline purposes only, is not intended as an endorsement of any product, and is no guarantee of the results.

Images courtesy of softlinkz.blogspot, vladalexa.com

Copyright © The B. Hammil Company 2011

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