CyberAngel with Wi-Trac Locates Stolen Computers

By Jeff Goldman

July 25, 2007

Security firm announces widespread adoption of its computer tracking and recovery system that now incorporates Skyhook's location technology.

CyberAngel Security Solutions was founded in 1996 with the simple aim of helping people recover stolen computers. “We saw a need out there in the marketplace, with more and more information being stored on computers as we resolve to a more mobile society,” says company CEO Bradley Lide.

 

While the service started largely over dial-up – a stolen computer would auto-dial back to CyberAngel to provide its location as soon as it was attached to a phone line – that’s been replaced almost entirely by Wi-Fi connections over the past few years. And although that often means the company is alerted sooner than it was in the past, locating a computer by IP address rather than by phone number can complicate the recovery process.

 

“Ten years ago, if we got an alarm through a phone line, we could resolve that down to a physical street address, and police could act on that very quickly,” Lide says. “With an IP address, we have to go through the subpoena process with that law enforcement agency to the ComCasts or Road Runners to identify the physical address of that node.”

 

And even then, the stolen computer itself may not be located at that physical address. “We’re seeing a lot more of the alarms that we’re getting resolving back to a wireless router in someone’s home, and it turns out this it’s unsecured – and the stolen computer is actually two or three doors down,” Lide says. “So we saw that the next thing we had to do to continue to be a viable product was to be able to track within a wireless environment.”

 

Partnering with Skyhook

 

To that end, CyberAngel, in partnership with Skyhook Wireless, created The CyberAngel with Wi-Trac, which integrates Skyhook’s Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS) into the CyberAngel system in order to triangulate a stolen computer’s exact location, rather than just the IP address of the Wi-Fi router to which it might happen to be connecting. The two companies have been working together since Skyhook’s launch in June of 2005.

 

This week, CyberAngel and Skyhook Wireless announced that The CyberAngel with Wi-Trac has been adopted by a wide range of institutions, including the U.S. Army Labs, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, Michigan’s Sparrow Hospital, the OneLegacy transplant donor network, Maryland’s Transplant Resource Center, Brown University, Rutgers University and the University of Central Florida.

 

In addition to locating a stolen computer using Skyhook’s WPS, Lide says CyberAngel works with the police to give them the information they need to recover the device. “When we start receiving signals from that computer… we help facilitate the recovery process with law enforcement by liaising between the client and the law enforcement agency responsible,” he says.

 

And locating one company’s computer, Lide says, can often help a number of neighboring businesses as well. In one case in Lima, Ohio, he says, police noticed 50 or 60 computers in the house of the man who’d stolen a CyberAngel-protected computer. “He confessed to five or six different crimes of breaking and entering and theft in this general business park area, and we were able to help recover all these other items for all these people that had never even heard of us before – as well as the victim’s original computer,” he says.

 

Authentication, encryption, and tracking

 

It’s not just about the tracking solution – CyberAngel also integrates user authentication and data encryption to protect confidential information on any stolen computer. “While the recovery is the sex appeal, in selling to corporate America, the protection and sanctity of that critical and confidential information on that computer is what’s key,” Lide says.

 

Still, Lide says Skyhook’s Wi-Fi Positioning System serves as a great differentiator for his company’s offering. “Currently, there’s really three players in the tracking and recovery industry,” he says. “There’s Absolute Software out of Vancouver, Canada, there’s XTool out of Houston, and there’s us. We are the only ones that are providing tracking through a Wi-Fi network.”

 

Skyhook Wireless CEO Ted Morgan says integrating his company’s WPS solution into the CyberAngel system wasn’t particularly difficult. “The way we’ve set up the technology is it’s a core location engine that, when any application asks for its location, we return the location,” he says. “In the case of our Loki toolbar, the user is initiating that – but another application can do that as well, and that’s what CyberAngel is doing.”

 

At the same time, Morgan notes that this could open up a whole new target market for Skyhook Wireless. “CyberAngel is really the first step – and what you’ll see the folks at CyberAngel and others do is start to expand that to things like phones, which people lose all the time – not necessarily even stolen, just left in the cab or something like that,” he says.

Originally published on .

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