Zimbabwe ICT Firm Unveils Laptop Tracking System

Digital Content

As the country continues to record an increase in the number of laptops stolen from vehicles, offices and homes, a local information and communication technology (ICT) company, Electronic Systems, has come up with a programme that will enable it to recover laptops reported to police as lost or stolen.

Under a proposed arrangement presented to police last week, the company will implement and manage a stolen laptop and computer recovery programme using a tracking system which pinpoints the exact location of the stolen gadget belonging to an individual or organisation that would have subscribed to the service.

The company will also offer training to police officers at selected stations to acquaint them with the service and the system after which they would be equipped to carry out investigative duties.

Electronic Systems business development manager Mr Tawanda Chikosi last week said this development was expected to see a significant improvement in the recovery rate of stolen laptops.

He said while similar systems were available in other countries, especially the developed world, this was the first time that such a product was being pioneered in Zimbabwe.

"The system will act as a tracking link for crimes such as armed robberies, burglaries, theft from vehicles and theft from company premises where laptops would have been stolen during the commission of the offences.

"The system will easily and swiftly expose computer theft, crime syndicates and methodologies, thus helping the police force in general to fight crime in Zimbabwe," said Mr Chikosi.

Police spokesman Superintendent Andrew Phiri last week confirmed that he received the partnership proposal, adding that he would forward it to his superiors for scrutiny.

Mr Chikosi said his company's international strategic partners were Absolute Software Corporation of Canada, which invented the computer theft recovery, tracking and loss control product under the brand name "Computrace" in 1994 and Net Trace (Pty) Ltd of South Africa.

"Laptops and computers will only be tracked after a proper police report has been made by the victim to the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

"There are two main types of information we use to assist the police. First, the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the computer registers with our monitoring centre each time the computer connects to the internet." he said.

This information, he said was useful in determining the location of the computer.

"Second, we use forensic information which we can gather from the stolen computer through the use of patented forensic tools which are downloaded to the computer once it is reported as stolen," said Mr Chikosi.

"We also use GPS and Wi-Fi technology to track the computers on a Google map. We will provide the police with current and historical locations within 10 metres when using GPS technology."

Mr Chikosi said regardless of recovery status, the system enabled them to remotely delete all the data stored on the stolen computer to prevent it from falling into wrong hands.

This data included files and applications containing personal photos, internet bookmarks, browser cookies, financial information and stored passwords. Over 750 000 laptops are stolen every year worldwide and passwords are no longer adequate to protect laptops against unauthorised access.