Anti-Theft function for PC

Userlevel 7
I would like to see Anti-Theft feature in WSA for PC.
It should work more less in the same way like for Android. It means you should be able to localize your stolen or lost PC, send commands to lock it etc. You could even implement tracking of PC using inbuilt web-cam.
Let's utilize MyWebroot in its full potential and further enhance WSA for PC!

18 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +55
I agree if it could be implemented as I only use Laptops it would be good also for the new full Win 8 Surface tablet.
Userlevel 7
I'm pleased to report, a feature that should get the job done already exists. It's a less-commonly-known feature of the web console. When you look at how a mobile device is traced, it has a lot of ways it can be located - some better than others. On a mobile device, you can get very precise in locating it by using GPS or cell towers. If neither of those are available, it will also try finding it based on wi-fi network access. However, this method is not anywhere near as powerful as a GPS signal. On a PC, all you've got is the network access. Including a map for locating the device might seem rather misleading if that's the best option we've got available, since it would not be a rather large radius. However, what we do have is the IP address from which the device last checked into the console, and the IP address can be used by law enforcement to track a stolen device.
Here is how to get to it:
1. Log in to the Webroot Account Management Website at
2. Open the PC Security tab.
3. Select the PC you want to view. An "About" window appears.
4. In the window, click Scan Information.
This window shows the dates and times at which the 10 most recent scans have run, as well as the IP address the computer was using at the time of the scan. If this list shows that a scan was run AFTER the computer was lost, the IP addresses may help your local law enforcement officials locate the system. Please provide this information to the officer in charge of your case.
Note: if a scan has not run since the computer was lost, Webroot cannot assist you in finding the machine, as no IP addresses will have been logged.
The ability to take a picture with the web-cam is a neat thought, but there could be potential for misuse as well. We would need to see significant customer demand to revisit doing that.
Userlevel 7
Thanks Jim for the thorough explanation. However tracing a PC by IP address is nothing new to us, somebody of Webroot has already explained somewhere here on the community (sorry, I can't figure out who and where it was, maybe it was by you Jim). Moreover, it's definitely not what I have meant. Look at Anti-theft possibilities for Android. In this respect you have to agree that PC anti-theft, if it can be called so, it's quite naked and toothless. I am not doing it with a pleasure but please look at the newest ESET's Smart Security 6 with their Anti-Theft functions for PC. It works like WSA Anti-Theft for Android, so there are no questions if it is feasible or not. Well I thought that Webroot wants to stay atop ....
Userlevel 7
I went over to the ESET site for research, and it looks like ESET's selling point is that it creates a fake user profile and locks down access to all other profiles on the system via a console command.  This is great at stopping someone who really doesn't know what they're doing when it comes to information theft. 
Unfortunately, it's still trivial to pull the hard drive out, slave it to another computer, and access everything on the drive that way.  You can only lock down permissions in the environment in which the program doing the securing is installed into.  Permissions are not transferable in that sense between devices, so as soon as you take out the hard drive and pop it into another computer, you can pull off any and all contents unabated. Something like TrueCrypt is probably what you're looking for in terms of full disk encryption, and that's free and can do up to 256^3-bit encryption.
It's important to note that encryption and permissions changes don't really stop theft at all (unless you're talking about data theft rather than computer theft), because once it's been stolen, it's not as though a criminal is going to come to the conclusion that they can't access the data so they should politely return the stolen property.  Retrieving the stolen properly (which is actually anti-theft) comes down to finding it, and the IP Address is the way to go about doing that.  As mentioned before, you don't have built-in GPS on the vast majority of computers.
A camera could help with that if a lot of people are using the same IP address at a location.  If the ability of the camera to take pictures is tied to the phantom account, I can see that working without fear of misuse, but the usefulness of the phantom account otherwise is pretty questionable.  We'll revist the camera idea with our product managers and see what conclusions they draw.  There is value in such a feature, but if the ultimate goal is retrieval of the computer, the IP address should suffice the vast majority of the time.
Userlevel 7
Great explanation Jim! Though, every company has its selling point and a fake user profile is the great thing if I can say and it allows usage of the anti-theft in its core. Removing hard drive from laptop is not a point. Most of stolen laptops are used in usual manner where ESET's solution is good enough. Furthermore if laptop is lost owner has a decent chance to get it back thanks to ESET's AT where you can locate your lost/stolen PC on Google maps, send a message to your PC, lock PC etc. Who cares about IP. You can obfuscate it easily, look how many tools are available on the internet. OK, I understood from your post that Webroot is only willing to evaluate camera usage, nothing more. OK, even though I think it's wrong approach I accept this standpoint. Time will tell us ...
Userlevel 7
In order for the geolocation in that product to work, it's using the IP Address which is what you're getting already with Webroot.  You cannot pinpoint an IP address to a physical/mailing address the vast majority of the time without the ISP providing it (which is where the police come in handy).  What you would see on a map is a vague, multiple-miles-wide radius representation that would be unhelpful in locating your device.  You are thinking it would be as accurate as Webroot is for your phone, but keep in mind that's using GPS.
Userlevel 7
Jim, in the interest of objectivity please read what ESET says about the localization of a PC (translation from Czech): "Position of the device is determined by using Wi-Fi networks which are within range (the principle is similar as mobile phones, where it is used position transmitter). ESET Anti-Theft records and sends data to ESET servers on all available networks. In cooperation with the world database of wireless networks is determined location of device on a map." I tried it and it localized my laptop exactly in my house. Other ways how to localize your PC is for instance using Google's API geolocation. So forget for IPs which can be easily masked and changed in order to confuse your real IP.
Userlevel 7
Please reply via private message with any documentation you're referencing so I can review it, and I'll be happy to research it.  Based on what information I have already, this method is still only as good as the number of wi-fi networks in your immediate vicinity that your wifi card is picking up on and the propensity of those networks to reveal unique factors about themselves.  I do not see how a program would derive location data solely from having the name of an encrypted wi-fi network next door.  If you cross-referenced the IP address to a triangulation of wi-fi network names matching that region from a centralized database, that could potentially make the geolocation more accurate, but at the heart of that is still an IP address.
You said you tested this.  Did you test behind a proxy?  Did you test moving your computer someplace else and trying the feature there to simulate theft?  Did you try testing it in a rural location?  How many wi-fi networks are in immediate range of your computer?  These are all factors to consider in evaluating the strength of the feature.

Again, I'm not saying this idea has no value.  I'm just pointing out the value is limited by technological constraints (unless I end up being wrong, and I'd be happy to be wrong in this case!).
Userlevel 7
Thx Jim, replied with all documentation and other information via PM.
Userlevel 7
While waiting a reply of Jim, I have noticed that also BitDefender offers some kind of Anti-Theft in its new Total Security 2013. It looks like that the big players are incorporating Anti-Theft for PC in their 2013 product lines and are making it as a one of a selling point. We shouldn't be surprised though if all the main vendors have Anti-Theft also for Android devices. So there is just a tiny leap to spread this feature over PC/laptops. I guess we will see other vendors to follow shortly.
Userlevel 7
While keeping in mind the information I mentioned earlier about having an IP Address available in the online console, which serves as a method for tracking a stolen computer, the request is clearly for a more robust feature than that. After talking this through, there are a number of factors that need to be investigated in order to determine if this is a feature that Webroot should develop. This idea will be Under Consideration while we continue analyzing those factors. Kudos always help too! This was a productive discussion Pegas, and we'll keep digging deeper into this potential feature. Thanks!
Userlevel 7
Thanks Jim for taking this idea into consideration and I encourage all users who found this idea to be nice addition to WSA features make Kudos.
I would love the idea. That is something that I am starting to see several antivirus vendors roll out as product features. I would love to have the ability to track my laptop, which of course run Webroot!
Userlevel 7
Badge +55
I would like to see the ability to lock and or wipe the system from the online console as in the Mobile App.
I am extremely suspicious of any "anti-theft" feature that requires the OS be intact. Based on our experience with stolen guest PCs/laptops (ones that would check in since they don't have hard drive encryption) we have never seen them check in again via the web. Their hard drives are always wiped/pulled.
Not sure I understand the apparent resistance to Anti-Theft (or whatever one wants to call it to be technically correct). Norton also now offers an "anti-theft" tracking software. I have no idea how good it is, as I rely on Lojack.
The last comment that "hard drives are always wiped/pulled" seems inconsistent with Lojack's statements that they recover computers.
The other comment that "ones that would check in since they don't have hard drive encryption" is also puzzling. Just because a drive is encrypted doesn't mean it can't call in. Lojack and PGP (now from Symantec) work fine together.
Sorry if I'm missing something here, but the suggestion to include AT functionality to Webroot's products may or may not be feasible from a technical or business standpoint, but the fact is that more and more people are interested in this, more and more companies are providing it, and both anti-virus/firewall, tracking, and encryption can all co-exist based on products from other companies.
At the moment I've had to remove Webroot SecureAnywhere from one of my laptops because it is blocking Lojack from working. (Lojack coexists just fine with Norton Internet Security). (see separate post by searching for "Lojack" in community support)
Again sorry I've missed anything in the last post, just want security minded users to know what may help keep their data safe and intact, just as Webroot would want.
Userlevel 2
It's a great idea.
As for your discussion (pegas and Jim) look on *third party site link removed - sorry, but please see the Community Guidelines*
Userlevel 7
Badge +34
Thank you for your suggestion, however we are not looking to implement this, at this time.


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