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Thread: Computer IDing

  1. #1

    Computer IDing

    The topic recently came up between a friend and myself, about how someone could identify a computer if it were ever stolen.

    For our examples, we'll be using a simple laptop, and ignore all hardware distinction.

    1.) Computer naming, files and preferences
    Solution: Re-format the computer, backing up files onto a second disc.
    2.) Computer tracking software
    Solution: For those pieces of software designed for Windows, re-formatting won't work, as the information lies in the FAT Sectors. Ironically, if someone were to change the partitions around, re-format and switch to an NTFS partition...
    Note: Switching to an NTFS partition will still leave an automatic FAT32 partition on your computer, of about 20 some Megs, where the boot files are kept. (Atleast on my XP Box) That IS assuming they don't install Linux or FreeBSD over Windoze.
    3.) BIOS protected notes
    Solution: Replace the BIOS...if the person can manage to do that in the first place.

    Of these three solutions, only number three truly seems reasonable for maintaining a way to identify your computer. Of course, number two would also work, but its not fool-proof.

    Does anyone know of any way to completely ensure that their computer can be found and identified? Or atleast any good ways not mentioned here?


  2. #2
    AO Ancient: Team Leader
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    I would suggest that, for the largest part, people who steal computers are those who are unsophisticated in their use and would be unaware of the deeper things that can be done to id the computer later. Formatting etc. would be way above them as would replacing the BIOS.

    I would also suggest that in many cases the person who they sell the computer to, (at a handsome discount I might add....<s>), would probably be of similar sophistication.

    Now if we are talking about an organized ring of people who do this for a living I retract all the above....<s>
    Don\'t SYN us.... We\'ll SYN you.....
    \"A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools.\" - Thucydides

  3. #3
    BS, EnCE, ACE, Cellebrite 11001001's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Just West of Beantown, though nobody from Beantown actually calls it "Beantown."
    A relative of mine is chief of police a a college in the northeast. He purchases specially designed steel plates that are chemically sealed to students' laptops. It has a registration number on it and the police dept. keep a database of all the numbers; linking owners, serial nos., etc.

    The cool part: If the plate is ever removed, it leaves behind a bright yellow chemical "stain" on the surface of the computer that says, "This computer is stolen property. Please notify XX."

    Although it doesn't help in finding the computer all that much, it can certainly help to identify it once found.

    If I can find a link, I'll put it up.
    That's Officer 11001001 to you...
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    "Relax, Bender; It was just a dream. There's no such thing as two." ~ Fry
    sometimes my computer goes down on me

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    I remember seeing something that sounded an alarm if a laptop was taken a certain distance from a device-this would be useful in airports and such.
    the only way to fix it is to flush it all away-tool

  5. #5
    Shadow Programmer mmelby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Ft. Myers, FL
    In our experience the intelligence of most thieves is not impressive. It is usually a quick grab of one or two devices and immediately to the pawn shop. How about some kind of label inside the case. I know it would be a pain to to install but I don't think the normal thief would bother taking the device apart to remove something like that.
    Work... Some days it's just not worth chewing through the restraints...

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2003

    Re: Computer IDing

    3.) BIOS protected notes
    Solution: Replace the BIOS...if the person can manage to do that in the first place.
    Talking about those BIOS tweaks, company of my friend is using method to secure their data (and the computers maybe) by recoding Flash-BIOS. So as I remember, they encrypted the data on HD or only the first sectors, and by the password protection user could use the data and computer.

    Replacing BIOS would let the thief to bypass password protection but the HD would be unusable (until reformat)..
    rdev - 01110010 01100100 01100101 01110110

    \"The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little while longer.\" - U.S. Navy Seabees

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