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Thread: Loaner computer security

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Loaner computer security

    Hello all,
    I have been refurbishing old desktops and laptops and loaning them out, it really does not cost me anything but time as the old computers are given to me. Here is the rub, sometimes they "disappear". I would like to be able to have them check in regularly via Internet and be able to shut them down, disable or possibly recover them when they "disappear" again in the future. I have been trying to work this in with my dyndns account and to tell the truth my brain has turned to mush trying to configure anything.

    If you have a solution or can point me in the right direction that would be nice.
    Sometimes I wake up crabby, but mostly I just let her sleep.

  2. #2
    winh8r is offline Iced Almond Soy Ubuntu, No Foam
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    Re: Loaner cumputer security

    In all honesty, if someone is going to steal a computer , then setting up a remote "check in" system is not going to solve the problem. It would be far easier to charge a small refundable deposit on each loan machine to deter theft.

    If someone gets a computer from you and decides they want to keep it, then all they are going to need is a full clean install and they have a new computer. At least with the deposit system they might think twice.

    It is sad that this is happening as you are using your time and skill to help others and yet some of them can only see an opportunity for theft.

  3. #3
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    Re: Loaner cumputer security

    The reason they are loaners is for low income. Here is the situation that made me think hard about this. We had a highschool kid living with us while the mother tried to get her life together. Kid moves back home with a computer for homework and such, moms new boyfriend takes it and who knows what, but its gone. I would like to be able to just have have it give ip info and be able to lock it down. that way if it gets sold or whatever I can render it useless.
    Sometimes I wake up crabby, but mostly I just let her sleep.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Re: Loaner cumputer security

    Well, you'd have to worry about BIOS security as well. Someone could just reformat the drive, and it's be like new again.

    Even if you lock down the BIOS with a password, there are still ways around that.

    In fact, they could just replace the hard drive with one that has another OS on it.

    It sounds like you're doing a great thing, but I really don't know if what you are suggesting could be practical.

    What if you put very obvious external labels on the PCs to indicate that they are "loaners", and that they are associated with a deposit fee? (Only refundable to the person who you originally loaned it to.)

  5. #5
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    Re: Loaner cumputer security

    it's a shame that there's even an issue like this. You give selflessly and some jerkoff takes advantage of you. Even if you had an I.P. address, I don't think ISPs will share a physical address without a court order. As far as remote disabling, I'd think anything on the disk could be wiped. You'd have to get to the BIOS. I bought a laptop off Ebay that came with something like that installed. It shows up on a cold boot and gives a phone # to get it removed/deactivated.

  6. #6
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    Re: Loaner cumputer security

    Thanks for the replies. Not to under-estimate the end user, but I don't think their that samart. I like the Idea of the markings. Maybe a log chain and a concrete block.
    Sometimes I wake up crabby, but mostly I just let her sleep.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Re: Loaner computer security

    As has been said above nothing will stop anybody from formatting and re-installing an OS but I think that the Prey project could be just what you're after.

    As of 11.04 there is version 0.4.4 in the repos or you can download the .deb for the latest version direct from their site.
    I think 11.10 and 12.04 already have the latest version.

    http://preyproject.com/

    http://preyproject.com/blog/2011/04/...-now-on-ubuntu
    Cheesemill

  8. #8
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    Re: Loaner computer security

    'log chain and concrete block'

    I think that poster is on the right track. Making it incredibly freaking heavy by pouring concrete into the box will likely deter any thief. Another way, could be to spray paint all loaners fluorescent pink or some other hideous colour to make it unsaleable.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Re: Loaner computer security

    Quote Originally Posted by HermanAB View Post
    'log chain and concrete block'

    I think that poster is on the right track. Making it incredibly freaking heavy by pouring concrete into the box will likely deter any thief. Another way, could be to spray paint all loaners fluorescent pink or some other hideous colour to make it unsaleable.
    This. Maybe glow in the dark pink (do they even make that??).
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