Future Lenovo ThinkPads to Come with Remote 'Kill' Switch


As organizations big and small become increasingly reliant on technology, it is inevitable that security becomes increasingly important. This is especially pertinent to SMBs, which often will not have the benefit of dedicated IT security personnel to assist on matters such as giving recommendations or enforcing security. It is on this basis that I recently covered the use of full-disk encryption (FDE) to secure laptops against theft or misplacement. Moving forward, companies seeking an additional layer of protection on top of FDE hard disks will probably be interested in Lenovo's upcoming security offering, Constant Secure Remote Disable.


Developed with Phoenix Technologies, Constant Secure Remote Disable is implemented at the laptop's BIOS layer. In a nutshell, this feature basically lets the owner of a lost or stolen ThinkPad send a "kill" command via a text message. Receipt of the wireless command either disables the laptop immediately, or shuts it down first in order to properly engage any disk drive encryption that is in place. Once disabled, only the use of a "resurrection" code will allow the laptop to be enabled again.


One advantage I see with this is how it renders the entire hardware unusable to both thieves and opportunists. Indeed, proper identification and clear labeling of contact details should see a higher chance of a disabled laptop being returned.


The obvious downside to this solution at this point would be that this technology will only work on Lenovo laptops with wireless wide-area network (WWAN) modules. In addition, it is proprietary to Lenovo at this moment, and will only be available as a free download for selected laptops either later this month or in the first quarter of 2009. And of course, this feature is also much less useful in the absence of a FDE disk drive or appropriate encryption software.


What I really like, though, is the promise of things to come. Engineering and software complexities aside, I can foresee other manufacturers rushing to incorporate such a feature into their products soon enough. Till then, don't lose your laptop, will you?