The combination of the two technologies also works if the laptop is reported stolen or lost. When the ThinkPad is then reconnected to the Internet and attempts to reconnect with an enterprise's network, the Intel technology can send a "poison pill" to disable the PC. If the laptop is returned, the user or IT department could restart the laptop using a special password. The Intel anti-theft technology can also encrypt the laptop's hard disk drive.
The Intel technology will work if the laptop's operating system is disabled or if its power is shut off as long as the notebook is connected to an AC power outlet. If the laptop is using battery power, the PC has to be "awake" and connected to a wired or wireless LAN to deliver the poison pill.
If the laptop is outside the firewall, the Intel poison pill will work as long as notebook is connected to a LAN. Right now, the technology can not work with a WWAN (wireless WAN).
The combination of Intel, Lenovo and Absolute Software security technologies is similar to a set of services that Dell began offering earlier in 2008 called ProSupport Mobility Services, which protect data stored on business laptops. One specific Dell service, Remote Data Delete, also delivers a poison pill if a laptop is lost or stolen that will wipe the hard drive clean.
Dell recently sponsored a study by the Ponemon Institute showing that about 12,000 laptops are lost in U.S. airports each week.
Richard Shim, an analyst at IDC, said a number of companies, including Intel and Phoenix Technologies with its FailSafe product, are offering a number of tools to address the concerns of corporate laptop users. Since more and more laptops are in use now, hardware security has become a major concern.
"Security has been something that has been talked about, but we have not seen the rubber hit the road," Shim said. "Now, we are starting to see these new technologies come out that enable security features such as restricting access to a notebook if it has been lost or stolen, encryption to prevent access to this information or in some cases just destroying the data on the system."
While these types of technologies are useful when it comes to preventing the theft of data, Shim said IT department also have to create ways of backing up that data and having access to that data through other means.
While Intel's anti-theft technology is hardware-based, it does require a service provider, such as Absolute Software, to activate. While Lenovo will provide the BIOS update for its ThinkPad T400 laptops to work with the Intel anti-theft technology, Intel and its OEM partners are planning to include the technology as part of the manufacturing process later. Intel Anti-Theft PC Protection will be included with the Lenovo ThinkPad but requires a paid subscription to Absolute Software to work.