Intel plans to release an anti-theft technology for laptops during the fourth quarter of this year, but the company isn't offering many details yet.
Called Intel Anti-Theft Technology, the new capability will be added to Intel's Active Management Technology, which is part of Centrino vPro and allows IT managers to remotely access and configure computers.
In the event of theft, the technology will "basically lock the system, lock the disk, so people cannot be maliciously using and getting the data," said Dadi Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Mobility Group, according to a transcript of his presentation at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in Shanghai.
The technology, which appears to render both the processor and storage inaccessible, aims to ease concerns over valuable corporate or personal data falling into the wrong hands when laptops are lost or stolen, according to Perlmutter.
The problem of lost data on stolen and missing laptops is a long-standing problem and a growing concern, particular for its impact on personal data.
In December 2006, Boeing reported the theft of a laptop that contained Social Security numbers, names and home addresses of 382,000 current and former employees. The laptop was stolen from an employee's car, the company said. The incident was particularly noteworthy because it pushed the number of US data breach victims past the 100 million mark - nearly one-third of the population at that time.
Since then, there have been many other incidents of stolen laptops carrying sensitive data, such as the December 2007 theft of a laptop containing sensitive information on 268,000 Minnesota-region blood donors.
The anti-theft technology being developed by Intel would presumably give IT managers a way of protecting this data once a machine has gone missing.
Besides Intel, several other companies are working on the anti-theft technology, including Lenovo Group, McAfee, Fujitsu Siemens Computers and Phoenix Technologies.
More details of the technology will be made available when it is closer to being released, Intel said.