The thefts were independent events, with only one thing in common: both of them were managed by the same Sacramento VAR, Capital Computer Guys.
Greg Hemig, the operator and owner of the business, has been a Kaseya customer for years and tries to get all of his PC support clients to install the Kaseya agent on their machines. This agent can do a lot of different things, such as remotely control the machine, update drivers, and install a keylogger to keep track of what the user is doing. Most people use it for fairly benign purposes but Hemig figured out quickly after the laptops were stolen that he could use the software to track down where the machines were being used.
Which he did. He was able to gather all sorts of information from them once they connected to the Internet "I was able to find out not just an IP address, which is what a typical anti-theft product like LoJack would provide, but an actual physical address, the names of the user's girlfriend and family, how to access their bank accounts, and even turn on the microphone on the laptop and listen to what they were saying while they were typing." Scary stuff, but within two weeks of contacting law enforcement, he was able to get back both machines to their original owners.
The hardest part about the whole process wasn't collecting the information, but convincing the cops that he was legit and that they needed to act to retrieve the PCs. Both laptops didn't travel very far from their original locations one was only 20 miles away.
Hemig charges $30 a month per PC to support his customers, and has more than 600 PCs under management in this fashion. That is a nice piece of business, and something that more VARs should consider. "It makes me more competitive, and it was the same price that I used to charge for break/fix work, but now I can deliver a lot better service to my customers," he says.
"I think traditional tech support companies are going to disappear soon. Certainly, having Kaseya has changed my business completely. I almost wish my laptop would be stolen just to try to find it." Kaseya may be new as an anti-theft device, but it made it a lot easier to recover the laptops. And the company is looking into providing other tools to help its VARs in similar circumstances.
David Strom is an expert on Internet and networking technologies who was the former editor-in-chief at Network Computing, Tom's Hardware.com, and DigitalLanding.com. He currently writes regularly for PC World, Baseline Magazine, and the New York Times and is also a professional speaker, podcaster and blogs at strominator.com and WebInformant.tv