The Vancouver-based technology company Absolute Software isn’t well known to consumers, but its underlying security technology lives in many common devices. From desktop computers and laptops to marquee smartphones and tablets, its “Lojack for Laptops” and related technology aims to keep your tech safe.
With offices from regional Texas to London to Singapore, it is also a global company. To further spread the company message and meet with new clients, Jorge Hurtado of Absolute Software came to Colombia in August to attend the annual ITC conference Andicom 2017 in Cartagena.
During his trip, Hurtado sat down to talk with Loren Moss, executive editor of Finance Colombia, about the company’s security technology, why it is important to engage with the Colombian market, and potential applications for the Internet of Things.
Photo: Jorge Hurtado came to Colombia for the Andicom 2017 information and communications conference in Cartagena. (Credit: Loren Moss)
Loren Moss: What is the primary business segment for Absolute Software?
Jorge Hurtado: We are experts in area of endpoint security. Two billion devices with our technology exist in the world. So our mission, our purpose, is to make it possible now for people to be able to use that technology in favor of information security.
In essence, we are in the board that defines the roadmap of all the global manufacturers of computers: HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc. So every time a computer comes out of the factory, it already has our technology.
All computers have a lot of technology that few users are using. One of those technologies has to do with the area of security, that our agent is persistent in the BIOS [basic input/output system]. So, those agreements exist there and have always been there. The manufacturer doesn’t buy it, we are an OEM [original equipment manufacturer]. We develop the technology, we test it for the manufacturer so it can have an added value inside the hardware that it sells.
“One of the biggest and best surprises that I have had at this Andicom compared to the five I have attended is that we are more top of mind.” – Jorge Hurtado of Absolute Software
Loren Moss: We are in Colombia, and if the main computer manufacturers are based in the United States or in Asia, what is the objective of being in Colombia at Andicom?
Jorge Hurtado: The objective is to evangelize. One of the biggest and best surprises that I have had at this Andicom compared to the five I have attended is that we are more top of mind.
The security part is more in the top of the client mind. That is the conversation that is being heard every day, and it seems to me to be very interesting.
Loren Moss: If I have a machine — a device that has the technology that you have developed — how can I, as a consumer or an executive of a company, take advantage of having that software?
Jorge Hurtado: Well, the software is already installed in the factory, sleeping, and what you need to do is activate it. It is a service.
On the consumers’ side, it is called LoJack for Laptops. You go to the “LoJack for Laptops” website, register, pay for a license, and download the permit that will allow you to activate the agent that is dormant in that computer. That’s in the case of the consumer.
Loren Moss: Interesting. That seems to me like it would be very useful when people are suffering from theft of laptops and other types of devices. Is it only in laptops or is it also in mobiles or desktops or in what?
Jorge Hurtado: That’s a good question. It’s in desktops, in laptops, in tablets, and in cellphones. Cellular phones, such as Samsung, and also other low-cost devices, like Yezz or BLU. Recently, the one which is taking most advantage of this is Samsung. The Samsung security strategy is supported by having Absolute included in their devices.
Loren Moss: You have now released the Absolute 7. What are its differences and why should I care if it has seven and not 6.6 or 6.5?
Jorge Hurtado: Of course, every new version has important differences compared to the one before. Our service includes an automatic upgrade at no extra cost. That means that all our new customers, starting from next month, are going to see their console in Absolute 7.
“The Samsung security strategy is supported by having Absolute included in their devices.” – Jorge Hurtado of Absolute Software
Loren Moss: If it is firmware, and it is not in the BIOS, how can you make an update?
Jorge Hurtado: An excellent question. When the user or the company is registered, he registers for a service, which is in the cloud. At that moment, a permit is executed which is going to activate it — it is going to say “Wake up! Now I’m alive.”
But there is always a portion that stays in the operational system. That portion that stays in the operational system, which is what constantly interacts with security in the cloud, is already in version 7. In other words, the agent in the BIOS doesn’t need to be version 7.
Loren Moss: Is there a danger that someone can steal a laptop and then erase the hard disk, or format it, and that will deactivate the LoJack?
Jorge Hurtado: No, that is the “Persistence” model. We have developed the patent of the technology called “Persistence,” and every time it is activated and it is alive, that portion is also valid in the operational system.
Even if there is a formatting or a replacement of the disk or something like that, the piece of software that is in the BIOS will make it reactivate once again. It’s always going to be present there in the tablet, in the telephone, in the laptop, in the desktop.
Not only that, but since we have developed the technology, we have the capacity to make other persistent applications. A very common example: 80% of the calls to the help desk are because of deconfiguration of applications. So, we can do a “health check” on those applications, and if they are agents — like BPN, antivirus, anti-malware, etc. — we can make them “self-healing.” Then, that 80% of the calls to the help desk would be greatly reduced, and with that comes savings.
Right now, I have a meeting with the oil and gas industry. They say that with these oil prices, what we have to look for is effectiveness. We have to make the investment effective, and for that we need to save. One way to save: a help desk, which depending on the size of the company can have from two people to 100 people.
Loren Moss: How relevant is Absolute Software and products to the Internet of things?
Jorge Hurtado: Completely relevant. Nowadays we’re talking about endpoints, but in reality, “endpoints” is every device that generates information. So that’s where our company is going.
Our company is going to analytics and user behavior patterns to detect threats. In the market, they say that 80% of threats come from an insider, so we are reducing that number by having the technology activated. And then, later on, in a short time, we’ll also include the Internet of Things — everything that has a processor and an operational system.
This interview has been edited for space and clarity.