Reader Feedback: Data Recovery Better Than You Think

Aug. 1, 2007
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Data Recovery Better Than You Think
I want to address a few of the points in Jeremy Pollard’s column “The Search for Secure Data” [May ’07, ControlDesign.com/secure] about the validity of our computer tracking and recovery solution.

“Public companies such as Absolute Software are benefiting from the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) factor,” writes Pollard.

There are companies that might be motivated by fear, uncertainty and doubt in their decision to deploy an asset-tracking and theft-recovery solution. However, they have good reason to be concerned. The number of stolen computers and data security breaches is growing daily. The legal implications and the financial risk companies take on when sensitive information about customers or employees is compromised has reached into the tens of millions of dollars.

Moreover, the vast majority of companies are motivated by responsible corporate practices and compliance with consumer privacy laws that have been passed in more than 35 states. These laws require companies to safeguard data and, in circumstances where data has been exposed, notify affected parties. Absolute provides beneficial tools to help companies accomplish their goals and abide by state laws and federal regulations.

Pollard also claims that  if the data is encrypted, you don’t need [companies such as Absolute].

In the majority of corporate thefts, encryption has proven ineffective. Industry experts estimate 70% of theft is internal, and, from what our customers have told us, that percentage very well could be higher. Encryption can’t adequately address corporate security if the thieves themselves are employees who have direct access to computers, passwords and sensitive data. A recent article in the Boston Globe [“TJX breach shows that encryption can be foiled”] shows that encryption can be foiled, and addresses the limitations associated with encryption technology in corporate environments.

In addition, many companies don’t have adequate backups of computer data. Often, they want to recover the data as well as the computer—not just prevent access to the files. Absolute allows clients to do both.

Pollard also writes, “It seemed like they could put GPS-like tracking software on a stolen computer as well, so the authorities could apprehend the culprit and recover the data.”

Not so. The ability to track and locate lost or stolen computers via GPS is not possible today, but the proprietary method Absolute Software developed and has been using for more than a decade works exceedingly well. Absolute Software recovers, on average, 50 computers a week for our customers.

Pollard further writes, “I went to the Absolute website, and now I get it. Make sure that the information is scarce, and the FUD is high. That’ll do it.”

I’m sorry that you found the information on the Absolute Software site to be scarce. We’ve always prided ourselves on offering visitors an information-rich resource that includes: industry statistics, tips and best practices, white papers, case studies, testimonials, FAQs, images, news and more.

Pollard writes that “Absolute Software says most laptops that are stolen are quickly connected to the Internet. In fact, they say, the stolen computer must be online within 60 days for Absolute to be able to track, locate, or delete your sensitive data. Would you pay for this?”

Not so. Absolute Software never has made the claim that a computer must be online within 60 days in order for us to recover it. What we have said—and do offer—is to pay the customer $1,000 if a computer protected by our enterprise product, ComputraceComplete, can’t be recovered within 60 days. Would people pay for our service? With more than a million subscriptions under management, the proof is in the pudding.

“Now, if I stole a laptop for its contents, the last thing I would do was connect it to the Internet,” concludes Pollard.
While you might not connect to the Internet, the average thief is an unsophisticated technology user who simply will use the stolen computer to jump online and surf the Web. When this happens we’re able get the information we need to determine the computer’s location and, with the help of local law enforcement, recover the asset.

John Livingston, CEO,
Absolute Software Corp.,

If the majority of the thefts are from inside the company, would you consider these people unsophisticated, especially when encryption doesn’t seem to deter the access to data?
And while I would not agree with the observation that most want to steal a laptop just to surf the Web, my point was the thief would have to connect to the Internet in order for the service to work.

Jeremy Pollard

Does Technology Drive CEO Salaries Too?

I hadn’t quite thought of technology and equality in Dan Hebert’s terms [“Does Technology Drive Inequality?” Apr ’07; ControlDesign.com/Inequality] and I agree completely with his analysis, as far as it goes.

There’s another dimension, however—corporate greed. I can’t see how technology drives the huge salaries and bonuses that CEOs are getting.

They might be using technology for productivity gains, which adds value to the company, but that doesn’t explain huge bonuses awarded whether or not the company makes money. How does technology explain Ford’s new CEO getting $225 million or so for three months’ work with a company in danger of going bankrupt?

Maybe the middle class is disappearing because the “middle” gap is now so big?

Ray Jorgenson, controls engineer,
Millipore, Jaffrey, N.H.

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