By Greg Mills
Recent developer builds of Mac OS X Lion are showing a “Find my Mac” sort of Lo-Jack protection feature for locating lost or stolen Macs.
This works much as the iPhone and iPad security system. While no Macs yet have a GPS chip on them, using Internet routing information, available WiFi sources and other traceable data, it may soon be possible to track a lost Mac’s physical location.
Not only can the missing machine be found, it can be remotely wiped or locked down allowing only Safari to work. You want a thief to hook up to the Internet so you can find them. Presumably, bricking the computer will not be easy to fix without the password.
This function goes well beyond the recent cases where a thief is photographed surfing the web on a stolen laptop. If an owner of a stolen Mac wants to remotely wipe the hard drive and lock up the stolen Mac, they can do so. The only problem with wiping the hard drive is it disables the location feature and makes recovery less likely. If the lost computer isn’t recovered in a reasonable period of time, there must be a certain satisfaction in bricking the computer. Should a thief take a stolen computer in to be “fixed,” there is a likelihood it will be recovered as stolen.
Macs, iPhones and iPads are very desirable for thieves. I have personally had a Mac laptop stolen in a burglary a couple of years ago at our home. It never turned up. While a computer isn’t as valuable as a car that might have a Lo-Jack sort of recovery system on it, there is often enough important data on a lost computing device to be a serious concern for the owner who loses it. The inconvenience alone is often more of a problem than the replacement cost of the device, which in many cases is insured.
I have long advocated something like this as a feature within the Apple OS for Macs. Anything that will reduce the value of stolen Macs to thieves will also reduce theft of our computers. In my mind, this feature alone is worth moving to Lion when it comes out.
One cool new feature coming to iOS 5 has the RIM world in an uproar that has caused its stock to dump to a four-year low is iMessage. RIM had an instant message network that was considered a unique business feature. That sort of secure message system is coming to iPhone and iPad soon. On top of a lackluster launch of RIM’s PlayBook, the new iMessage feature on Apple’s mobile devices is taking away one of the final defining features that made RIM great.
Personally, I don’t do texting. I prefer email. Since I carry an iPhone and normally an iPad, why pay for text messages when email is free? The cellular networks charge an incredible amount of money for test messages that require a very small amount of bandwidth. The new iMessage app will have features that go well beyond RIM’s messaging plan. Apple intends to allow iMessage on iPods as well as the other iOS devices.
The iCloud will certainly be more than just the hard drive in the sky that cloud computing has been in the past. Cell phone networks and current text apps running on Apple devices will loose out when Apple launches iOS 5.
That’s Greg’s Bite.
(Greg Mills is currently a graphic and Faux Wall Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. Greg is an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, AB6SF, iOS developer and web site designer. He’s also working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process for turning waste dual pane glass window units into thermal solar panels used to heat water see: www.CottageIndustrySolar.com Married, with one daughter, Greg writes for intellectual property web sites and on Mac/Tech related issues. See Greg’s art web site at http://www.gregmills.info He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org )