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Company policy, according to Midgley, prohibits them for doing that until a police report is filed.

Unlike LANRev, Absolute's current theft recovery products can't be activated by end users, according to Vice President for Global Marketing Stephen Midgley.

I interviewed Midgley by phone from his office in Vancouver.

Both the Computrace and Lo Jack products can be used to turn on a Webcam and photograph the user in the event of a theft investigation.

But unlike the old LANRev, only Absolute engineers can track devices and activate recovery features.

"That allows us to pinpoint the location of the device..then provide the details over to the local law enforcement, who then go in and recover the device." Midgely said the recovery team is made up of former law enforcement officers and that the company has relationships with well more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies across North America.

Midgley said the company doesn't typically use Webcam photography, even if it's available.There are also programs such as Go To My PC that are designed specifically to allow users to remotely control a machine via the Internet.Once connected, the person has complete remote control over the host computer, including the Webcam, microphone, and other features.According to Harriton High School student Phil Hayes, officials at the Lower Merion School District used a program called LANRev to manage and track the Macintosh laptops issued to students.The product was published by Pole Position Software, which was acquired last year by Vancouver, B. An Absolute Software spokesman verified that it is also his understanding that the school used LANRev software."By default, it's insecure." In October 2008, TGDaily reported on a "game" that could "mislead people into clicking on a link that can then remotely control the user's Webcam and microphone." This You Tube video shows a proof of concept of a simple game that could cause a user to turn on the remote camera for an attacker.While security software can protect you against much of the malware, it can't necessarily protect you against the misuse of legitimate programs designed to remotely enable a Webcam or remotely operate a PC.By the time it's been reported, the laptop has been sold, and the person using it isn't the same person who stole it, "so taking a photograph of them really proves no value.In that case, it's not a photograph of the criminal.According to Mike Geide, senior security researcher at cloud security company Zscaler, "there are several exploit kits out there that include rootkit functionality that allow (people) to interact with the operating system however they want, and that includes turning on specific services or running applications in the background that would include applications to report Webcams, record audio, or turn on a built-in internal microphone." Geide recently blogged about a Chinese government Web site that had been hacked to post malware to utilize an Internet Explorer 6 vulnerability to plant Backdoor: W32/Hupigon which, according to F-Secure, is "a remote-administration utility which bypasses normal security mechanisms to secretly control a program, computer, or network," and "allows for recording with the user's Webcam." Trend Micro education director David Perry stressed the importance of being aware of vulnerabilities."It would do a public service, if we could make the public more aware that when you hook something like a Webcam up to your system that making it secure is your responsibility," Perry said.

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