Lockheed deal brings tracking headquarters into states

A new partnership between Lockheed Martin Corp. and Absolute Software Corp. will allow government users in the United States to continue tracking their laptop computers, but from a location closer to home.

Under the agreement announced earlier this month, Lockheed Martin will create a Monitoring Center at its Lockheed Martin Mission Systems secure facility in Gaithersburg, Md., making it the first facility in the United States for users of the Canadian software-maker's Computrace product. Computrace allows information technology administrators to track laptops in the field and recover them if they are lost or stolen.

Lockheed Martin and Absolute announced a licensing agreement in September under which Lockheed would resell Computrace in the United States. Existing users of the Computrace system are monitored by a facility at Absolute Software's Vancouver, British Columbia headquarters.

Lockheed Martin will market the system as a fee-based service for $50 a year per unit with quantity discounts for government buyers and will add new features in the future, said Jon Watada, Lockheed Martin program manager for computer security products and services.

After Computrace is installed on a laptop or remote PC's hard drive, the software-tracking agent will silently transmit computer asset data over a phone line or local area network to the Lockheed Martin Monitoring Center on a scheduled basis. Lockheed Martin's center will start operating by July, Watada said.

System status information including the Internet Provider address, user name, e-mail address, operating system, hard drive size, processor type and speed, and the originating phone number — even if it is an unlisted or blocked number — is stored in a secure, online database that customers can view via Web-based reports. If a computer is reported missing, it is flagged in the database.

The next time the computer makes an Internet or phone connection, operators at the monitoring center report its location and can work with law enforcement to recover the missing laptop. The software is difficult to detect and the speaker and lights are deactivated when it dials out, Watada said. In addition, if someone tries to repartition the hard drive, the software will stay behind, he said.

The software also serves as an asset management tool to help IT administrators keep track of how many computers are used remotely and when they are returned.

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