back to article HP's Elite Dragonfly lappie to let Tile gadget-trackers stalk it till they're Blue in the tooth

HP and Tile plan to hook up some of their kit, with the the latter's gadget-tracking tech shoved into the upcoming HP Elite Dragonfly laptops. This integration works via a Windows application, and a companion mobile app running on a standard Android or iOS device. Should a user's laptop go astray, they will be able to locate …

  1. iron Silver badge

    This sounds like a privacy and battery life nightmare.

    How do Tile know where your laptop is? Most laptops do not have GPS and any kind of "well its on a network with this name so..." solutions are inaccurate at best.

    How does the app know someone else's laptop is nearby? It must be constantly monitoring Bluetooth? And, I assume it requires Location permissions at all times. Both things that are permanently turned off on my phone to save battery, improve privacy and guard against security issues.

    I guess their products are not designed for the tinfoil behatted like myself but if they are integrated into other tech how do I disable them?

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      You are right, but then again there are more people you can track every step of on Facebook than ones trying to preserve their privacy. I'm of the latter kind too, but I'm well aware that we are a (dwindling) minority.

      As about how to handle items which have this technology - Well I guess the simplest and easiest solution is to not give it any individual identifier: Tile will still track that some laptop/headphones/whatever is in the area, but they won't be able to tell who it belongs to, so it's just noise to them. I admit it is not a perfect solution, but unless you're a drug lord it might be enough, potential hazards are lazy and will go for the easier targets.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Have an upvote

        from another Fartbook refusenik (and all other social media crap)

        This need to tell the world where you are and what you are doing at all times of the day and night is not going to end well.

        So what if I don't have a zuckfart account... I don't effing care.

        My phone has WiFi and BT disabled. I'll only enable WiFi when I'm at home or in another trusted location.

        All my phone and laptop Internet is done via VPN and all of Google is blocked by my firewall...

        Downvote me all you like but it ain't gonna change my stance. Oh and get of my lawn... that is reserved for the Moles.

    2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      The tiles themselves do not, as far as I am aware, have GPS. I use Tile to keep track of a few valuables (and it actually does work), and you do need an account with Tile. Each Tile has some sort of unique identifier that it transmits over Bluetooth to the nearest BLE device with the Tile app on it. As long as that device has GPS on it, it will pick up the BLE connection, and send the identifier, together with the device's own GPS co-ordinates to the Tile servers, which will then look up the account of the person who owns the Tile that the app just found.

      The person running the app that found the tile does not get access to it. Indeed, the app does not even tell them it's done anything.

      Don't want it reporting your location to Tile. Fine. Carry on as you are. The system will still work as long as enough people in an area do have it.

      As for power usage, it's not actually that much. The Tiles themselves last a year on a single CR2032.

      I do use Tile. It's handy in case I lose my keys, and I use it to track my backpack which often contains a £800 laptop..

      I can understand the security concerns. Despite being an iPhone user, I am also a System Administrator, and well aware of the problem of security. As a rule, I do lock things down as far as I can, but the old computer security adage (Security, functionality, features: Pick two) applies. I prefer the extra functionality of it being easier to find my keys or backpack than the slight security risk of keeping Bluetooth enabled.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Stuart Castle - It's a good start in security

        Now you have to add some risk analysis to it. What can have more negative impact, losing your keys or having your extra functionality enabled laptop compromised via a zero day BT vulnerability ?

  2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Alert

    Crucially, these features work while the device is powered off.

    > Crucially, these features work while the device is powered off.

    The corollary is that they will also work while the device is powered on. Fancy popping over to the pub for a bit of celebration^W creative brainstorming for that big order that just came in? Better leave the lappy behind then.

    Except that won't work: now your employers will know that your phone isn't near your laptop ('cos your phone will be snitching on other people's Tiles but not yours).

    Can I interested you in my new range of tin foil lined laptop bags?

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Crucially, these features work while the device is powered off.

      > my new range of tin foil lined laptop bags

      What's the difference with leaving the laptop in the office (or at home)? Your phone won't be able to connect to your laptop all the same.

      Besides, you're assuming your employer can track your phone through Tile, but actually he will only be able to track your company-issued laptop. Your phone is just one receiver for the Tile signal, and other receivers can only see you as another nameless receiver. Of course the company named Tile knows where you are, but so do all other apps on your phone too.

      (Disclaimer: I'm not defending Tile. I admit it could have its uses if it didn't involve the magic cloud of leaked buckets and hacked databases. But it's not a major privacy risk, especially when company-issued gear is involved. Any private gear I buy myself would of course remain a mystery UID forever, one nobody knows the owner of. I don't need it, I'm not very good at losing my stuff.)

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