Lenovo service disables laptops with text message

Lenovo on Tuesday announced a service that allows users to remotely disable a PC by sending a text message.

If a laptop is lost, now there is a new way to remotely shut it down -- just text it.

Lenovo announced on Tuesday the Constant Secure Remote Disable service, allowing users to remotely disable a PC by sending a text message. Users also receive a confirmation text message that validates the disabling of a PC.

"You steal my PC and ... if I can deliver a signal to that PC that turns it off, hey, I'm good now," said Stacy Cannady, product manager of security at Lenovo.

A user can send a text message -- also called the kill command -- from a specified cell phone number to kill a PC. Each ThinkPad can be paired with up to 10 cell phones, and the service works over wireless networks that support the SMS (short message service) standard.

A lost or stolen laptop must have a working cellular data card and a paid data plan with a carrier for the remote disable service to work, Cannady said.

The system is targeted at consumers who are worried about their laptops getting stolen. For business users it enforces compliance issues, as users get a receipt back and ensure their laptop is safe.

To reactivate the disabled PC, a user needs to enter the pre-set passcode after the notebook is restarted, Cannady said. The laptop software works with the carrier-based software to disable the computer.

The software will be available free from Lenovo's Web site. It will also be available on certain ThinkPad notebooks equipped with mobile broadband starting in the first half of 2009.

Lenovo worked with Phoenix Technologies to develop the service.

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