Stealth Signal's xTool Computer Tracker
While the current technology procurement initiative underway in the New York City schools - culminating in the deployment of laptops to most of the community - is certainly commendable from a purely educational perspective, it's motivations are primarily political. Many voters concerned with their school systems have asked: "if public schools aren't providing equal access to technology and techno-literacy, how can they claim to offer my children equal opportunity?"
Unfortunately, there's a logistical contradiction in the above solution: because schools are funded with property taxes, in the districts of our city where access to technology is needed most badly, because parents there are the least likely to be able to make it available in the home, the equipment is most vulnerable to theft. Because mobile computers are one of the most desirable targets of criminals, this becomes a substantial security issue in a major metropolitan area. Because in the world of education, need always outstrips funds, crime becomes a serious enemy to the equality of basic opportunity.
While some solutions have been offered on the market before, most, like Laptop LoJacks, were flawed: either they required extensive hardware modifications to the computers, making them impractical in an institutional setting, or simply failed to convince that they could really remedy the problem. Stealth Signal's security suite featuring xTool Computer Tracker is the first signal and recovery service I've seen that I would strongly recommend. The application offers a software-based transmitter that, once installed on a specific system, relays a signal to a server for their recovery service anywhere in the world. If the unit is reported stolen, the program can by-pass the overwhelming majority of even corporate firewalls to establish the hardware's location. Stealth Signal's subscription-based recovery team will work with law enforcement around the globe to return your property.
Ok, this much is hardly a new concept: several companies have promoted similar concepts before, most of which weren't successful commercially. xTool, however, is different, and it's these specific details that make the product a solution for the education market. Not only does the package not require hardware modification, it also features dynamic smart adaptability. For example, if you decide to upgrade from Windows 2000 to XP and add some additional peripherals to your LAN network, the background application will recognize the new configuration automatically, and just as automatically update its signature profile.
Also, it's virtually invisible - neither my (software) firewall nor my recently updated antivirus suite detected the program's operation, and it even failed to register in the Windows Task Manager's Processes screen. Even better, the software actually took longer to download then install, and it even downloaded pretty quickly. Although it's a separate module, the same companies Asset Manager will additionally provide an assessment of your entire hardware base, and even tell you if your school is in compliance with your license agreements.
$1.1 billion dollars is a lot to spend, even if it's to create the largest education computer network in the nation, if not the world. The modest sum of $50 a year per station isn't, especially if it will easily help protect that billion-dollar investment. For more information, log on to the company's site at www.stealthsignal.com#