Intel's Sandy Bridge processors have a remote kill switch

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Intel's new Sandy Bridge processors have a new feature that the chip giant is calling Anti-Theft 3.0. The processor can be disabled even if the computer has no Internet connection or isn't even turned on, over a 3G network. With Intel anti-theft technology built into Sandy Bridge, David Allen, director of distribution sales at Intel North America, told ITBusiness that users have the option to set up their processor so that if their computer is lost or stolen, it can be shut down remotely.

For those who want to protect their computers from thieves, the ability to remotely disable them sounds great. We're not sure the CPU is the component that should be targeted though. While a given stolen netbook, laptop, or desktop can no longer be turned on if Intel's new kill switch is flipped, there's nothing stopping the thief from taking out the HDD and putting it in another computer. As a result, you've only slightly slowed the criminal down and haven't really managed to ensure your sensitive data is protected.

Furthermore, those wearing tin foil hats will want to know if users have complete control over the feature. Is it enabled by default? If not, could someone else turn it on? Can anyone but the owner of the processor disable it remotely? Those might seem like paranoid questions, but nonetheless Intel needs to guarantee that the answer to all three is a resounding no.


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