It’s built into almost every top brand of computer. But how much do you know about Absolute Computrace software and its potential risks for refurbished computer buyers?
This quick guide covers:
- What is Absolute Computrace?
- What does Absolute Computrace software do?
- What are the potential risks of Absolute Computrace?
- How to see if Absolute Computrace is on your device
- How to disable Absolute Computrace if needed
The potential risks we highlight are especially relevant if you are buying a refurbished computer – so make sure you understand them before leaving this page!
What Is Absolute Computrace?
Absolute is a company that provides cybersecurity software.
The piece of software we are talking about here is either called Absolute or Computrace, depending on the brand of computer it appears on. For example, it appears as Absolute on HP devices and Computrace on Dell devices.
This software is built into the BIOS of all Dell, HP, Lenovo, Apple machines. So there is a very good chance that it’s installed on your computers.
What Does Absolute Computrace Software Do?
Absolute Computrace allows the device owner to set up security monitoring, remote locking and remote access using Absolute’s suite of products.
From everything we have read, it is the most comprehensively integrated security software and is incredibly difficult to bypass or disable when it is active.
That Sounds Like A Good Thing… What’s The Risk?
If you buy a second-hand or refurbished computer with Absolute software set up by the original owner, that person may retain the ability to lock or access your device.
According to the Absolute/Computrace instructions, the computer’s original owner who has access to the Computrace control panel can:
- Remotely lock the device at any time.
- Acquire the Geolocation of the device.
Although the owner can’t access any of your files directly through the management console, the Absolute Recovery team could potentially do this for them. For example, if the original owner said that the computer had been stolen.
“Absolute Theft Recovery Team will forensically mine the computer using a variety of procedures including key captures, registry and file scanning, geolocation, and other investigative techniques to determine who has it and what they’re doing with it”
If this capability were to get into the wrong hands, this could cause disruption or even a real security threat for your organisation.
For this reason, Pure IT ensures that every device we supply does not have Absolute / Computrace active or running.
How to check if Absolute / Computrace is running on your device
The easiest way to do this is in Windows by simple following these steps:
- Launch the Task Manager
- Click on the Processes Tab
- Ensure that the option to “Show all processes from all users” is checked
- Check for rpcnet.exe
Or if you are checking on a Mac:
- Launch the Activity Monitor
- Ensure that “All Processes” is selected from the drop down list
- Check for rpc.net
If you do not have Windows installed and you’d like to check your device, you can do this in the BIOS. But it is a little more difficult and isn’t 100% accurate. Please get in touch if you’d help with these steps.
How do I disable Absolute / Computrace if it is active?
The only way to properly do this is by contacting Absolute.
If a customer is still actively paying for the software on a device, Absolute will not disable the software until they have contacted the original owner. We have found that this situation can take months to be resolved. In many cases, Absolute never hears back from the customer so don’t disable the software.
If the software just wasn’t actively disabled when the original owner is decommissioning the device, Absolute are usually happy to help and can have the device removed from their system in a few days.
Does your refurb supplier actively check for Absolute Computrace?
If you’re using a refurbished device, having somebody else’s Absolute / Computrace software active on it is far from ideal.
At the very least, it could become a source of disruption. At the worst, it could become a real security threat.
At Pure IT, a critical part of our service is ensuring that every device we supply does not have Absolute / Computrace running on it. We believe this is something you should ask any refurb supplier before purchasing devices.