Picture this: you are sitting in a coffee shop working away on your laptop when you realize you need a refill. Do you get more coffee and risk your laptop being stolen or do you simply sit there and stay thirsty? Fortunately, you may not need to be as concerned about this decision in the future, as Microsoft’s recent patent detailed a method that would discourage potential laptop thieves.
The patent suggests that the laptop could be wiped and locked through a cellular network, without necessarily being connected to it. The patent noted, “Accordingly, the device may receive a disable command from the disablement service over the cellular network, and acknowledge processing of the disable command to the disablement service also over the cellular network.” The signal would still work even if the thief removed the physical authentication module or turned the cellular service of the device off.
This patent would use technology similar to that used in mobile devices. Apple was one of the first to introduce reset protection and many other companies followed suit. This technology is one of the reasons smartphone thefts have decreased over the last four years.
This anti-theft technology would be particularly useful for the increasing number of “always-on” cellular laptops. In 2016, Microsoft promised to release its own SIM card and “Cellular Data” app for Windows 10 devices. Microsoft’s Eric Lockard remarked, “We want to promote the adoption of cellular connectivity on Windows tablets and laptops to complement classic Wi-Fi connectivity and make it easier for consumers to connect to the Internet, anywhere, anytime. The Transatel SIM 901 solution helps us reach this objective in multiple markets through a single interface.”
Many are suspicious of always-on cellular laptops. They argue that users could potentially be tracked without enabling the cellular features of their machines. Hopefully the only people who will be tracked are laptop thieves.