Lenovo ThinkPad Notebooks Will Use Text Messages for Additional Security

Lenovo is using text messaging to add an additional layer of security to the company's line of ThinkPad notebooks. Starting in 2009, Lenovo ThinkPad notebook users can use an SMS text message to shut down a laptop that has been stolen or has been lost. This new feature, called Lenovo Constant Secure Remote Disable, was developed in conjunction with Phoenix Technologies to work with the ThinkPad's BIOS.

Lenovo is adding a new layer of security to its ThinkPad notebooks that will allow users to disable their laptop by simply sending a text message through a cell phone.

On Nov. 25, Lenovo plans to announce the new security offering for its line of ThinkPad notebooks called Constant Secure Remote Disable. Lenovo, along with Phoenix Technologies, developed this security feature and embedded the technology within the notebook's BIOS.

This new security feature allows a user to send an SMS (short message service) text message from a cell phone to a Lenovo ThinkPad that has been lost or stolen. Once the kill command is sent, the lost or stolen ThinkPad is either disabled immediately or the notebook is disabled after the PC has been turned back on, said Stacy Cannady, Lenovo's product manager of security.

Since hard disk drive encryption will not work properly if the PC is running or in hibernation mode, this disable feature ensures that the data is secure by shutting the machine down and allowing the hard disk drive encryption to work. If and when the ThinkPad laptop is recovered, the user can restore the notebook, its settings and the data contained on the PC by entering a password.

While Lenovo has developed other technologies that can disable or secure a ThinkPad laptop that is either plugged into a network or is using Wi-Fi, the Constant Secure Remote Disable technology covers those notebooks that are using a cellular WWAN (wireless wide-area network) network for Internet access.

"What we did was find a way to have the PC shut down in response to a command that is sent over the cellular network," said Cannady.

"The limitation here is that you have to have a WAN card in the PC and you must be paying a data plan for it," Cannady added. "If that is true, when someone steals the PC, you can whip out your cell phone and send a message to your PC, wherever it is, and when the PC gets that message, it will shut off at that moment. The only way to get it back is to type in the resurrection code."