Intel’s ultrabook “anti-theft” feature locks your hard drive up when stolen

We may have covered Intel ultrabooks a couple of weeks ago, but these ultra-light notebooks are finally heading to retail. To celebrate the launch, Intel gave us a peek at some of the technology inside these tiny beasts, specifically one piece that will protect your data if the computer is ever stolen.

No one wants to think of that day, and to be honest, we’d dread it altogether. However, if you’re unlucky to ever have your laptop stolen, Intel hopes to give you some way of locking down your data so it can’t be stolen.

Available in the new ultrabooks is a piece of hardware Intel calls “Anti-Theft”, designed to force the laptop to check with an Intel server for security protection. If you – the customer – specifies that the laptop is stolen, the hard drive will get locked down.

“With increased mobility and the ease of carrying Ultrabook devices, users around the world face increased risks of theft or loss of device and data.,” said Intel’s Anand Pashupathy, General Manager of Intel’s Anti-Theft services. “Loss of personal data can be detrimental, expensive and in some cases emotional.”

According to Intel, your data will “remain disabled” and “remain bricked until you put the password in”, a password that is tied specifically to your hardware.

Annoyingly, this technology won’t help you retrieve information from the hard drive, so you’ll still want to make sure that you have backups.

There is a price, however, as the feature is premium. While the technology is built into Intel’s ultrabook specification as a standard and appears on every computer classed as an “ultrabook”, you will have to pay for the privilege of using it.

In Australia, Dick Smith is the first retailer to jump on the bandwagon, offering the service free and bundled in with ultrabooks until the end of the year. After that point, we’re told that it will cost “under $50 for two years”.

“One of the questions that our customers ask our sales-people is how to I keep my data secure,” said Debra Singh, Dick Smith’s General Manager. “That’s why we’re very excited about this.”

The laptops will be heading to stores from November 9th, with both Toshiba and Acer providing ultrabooks. Other manufacturers will release units in the coming months, including Asus and Lenovo.