Intel serves 'poison pill' to lost or stolen Ultrabooks

New hardware-based encryption enabled in Ultrabooks to offer users greater peace of mind

Kill pill technology can be used to prevent unauthorised users from accessing an Ultrabook's data. The picture has nothing to do with that though, we just think it looks nice.

Kill pill technology can be used to prevent unauthorised users from accessing an Ultrabook's data. The picture has nothing to do with that though, we just think it looks nice.

Intel today announced one of the features that is likely to make Ultrabooks even more desirable: Intel Anti-Theft. Intel Anti-Theft is a service that can be used to lock down an Ultrabook in the event that it is lost or stolen, essentially disabling access to any data on that laptop. It works in conjunction with a central server and it is a hardware-based solution that marries a hard drive and its data to a particular platform.

To get the Intel Anti-Theft service, you must subscribe to it and Dick Smith Electronics will be the first store to offer subscriptions to the service in Australia. The subscriptions will be offered as a 'hard bundle' with new Ultrabooks bought before January 2012; Ultrabooks bought after this date will require a two-year subscription to be bought for $49.95 in order for the service to be usable.

When the service is enabled on an Ultrabook, it basically creates a partition on its hard drive that ties it to its hardware platform. Taking that drive out of the Ultrabook and putting in to another computer will not allow data on the drive to be accessed, and attempts to format the hard drive or even flash the BIOS will not be allowed. The laptop will remain locked until the user gets the computer back and unlocks it with their password.

The lockdown modes of the service are controlled by a central Intel Anti-Theft server. This server can be used in a couple of ways to lock down an Ultrabook. The most basic lockdown occurs when the user knows their Ultrabook has been lost or stolen and logs into the central server to send a kill pill. The next time the Ultrabook connects to the Internet and receives the kill pill, all the data on it becomes inaccessible.

The other way to set up the Anti-Theft service is to make the Ultrabook poll the central server at predetermined intervals. If the Ultrabook fails to poll the server, it locks down the data until it connects to the Internet and a successful poll is made. This basically means that the Ultrabook has to make contact with the Anti-Theft server to find out whether everything's okay, or if a kill pill has been sent to disable it. This also requires the user to enter their password.

Users can also tell the server to send messages to a lost or stolen laptop, which can be used to offer contact details or rewards for its return, for example. When a lost or stolen Ultrabook is retrieved, then its user can enter their credentials to unlock it. Intel claims that the technology is very secure and that it even has many Ultrabooks on its test benches that can not be unlocked.

Intel Anti-Theft hardware technology forms part of the Ultrabook specification (every Ultrabook must have it in order to be called an Ultrabook) and everyone who owns an Ultrabook will be able to use it. Intel will be working closely with software manufacturers to implement different solutions for this technology. One such solution will be tracking for Ultrabooks that have built-in GPS capabilities.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Elias Plastiras
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?