LANrev to lose Theft Track feature following Pa. school spying allegations

Absolute Software will permanently disable LANrev's Theft Track feature following allegations of webcam spying in the Lower Merion School District.

More details are emerging about the case of alleged webcam spying by officials at Harriton High School (Lower Merion School District in Montgomery, Pa.). Here are the important updates that news outlets have reported:

  • The Lower Merion School District used LANrev to remotely manage and track stolen/lost laptops.
  • A member the District's IT staff discussed the benefits of using LANrev in a May, 2008 Webcast on During the MacEnterprise video, the IT staff member said, "I've actually had some laptops we thought were stolen which actually were still in a classroom because they were misplaced, and by the time we found out that they were back I had to turn the tracking off and I had a good 20 snapshots of the teacher and the students using the machines in the classroom. But, you'll see that the feature works fantastic [sic]."
  • LANrev was published by Pole Position Software, which was bought by Absolute Software (publisher of LoJack for Laptops and Computrace) in 2009.
  • Absolute Software has rebranded LANrev as Absolute Manage and the current product is not marketed as a theft recovery tool.
  • Computerworld reported that Absolute Software would permanently disable LANrev's Theft Track feature, which was used in the Harriton High School case.
  • CBS News reported that unlike LANrev, only Absolute personnel can activate the theft tracking features of Computrace and LoJack products and company policy requires a case file from a police department before they will do so.
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer reported court order a has been issued that "says the district must preserve all computer files - particularly captured images - and cannot change the software on the laptops without permission."
  • Multiple agencies are conducting investigations, including the U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI, and Montgomery County District Attorney's Office.
  • Federal prosecutors have issued a subpoena for district records related to the laptop tracking system.
  • The blog Stryde Hax published a detailed report on how LANrev could capture photos through the Macbook's iSight camera despite security measures in OS X to prevent someone from remotely activating the webcam.

By Bill Detwiler

Bill Detwiler is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the ...