Intel working on RFID-based 'kill switch' for laptops

Intel working on RFID-based 'kill switch' for laptops

Summary: Dubbed the Wireless Credential Exchange, the company's SoC devices would work in tandem with Monza RFID chips to render them inoperable if lost or stolen.


"Kill switches" — the ability to remotely render a device unusable to combat theft — are already making an impact in the smartphone world. Now Intel might be bringing the technology to other mobile devices using its SoCs.

The chip giant is working on something call the Wireless Credential Exchange (WCE) with a number of partners. Its chips would communicate with Impinj's Monza RFID chips to allow remote monitoring of devices via Burnside Digital's IPTrak software. The result would be that these devices could be controlled to activate only when they reach their approved destination or within a specified location. If they don't reach their destination or leave the approved area, they could be disabled.

Devices can be scanned using a RFID reader and data from the IPTrak software stored in a cloud-based database and accessed via Burnside Digital's Windows, iOS, or Android app. In addition to providing security features, WCE could assist in the maintenance of devices, as error logs can be read remotely to diagnose issues.

There's no timeline on when the WCE technology could be implemented into Intel-based devices. But kill-switch technology is certainly in the news, as major smartphones players are embracing it, even if it cuts into the profits phone carriers get from selling replacement devices. A recent study projected a yearly savings of $2.6 billion for consumers if kill switches were implemented on smartphones, and that figure could be dwarfed by the amount enterprises could save with similar technology embedded into corporate laptops (not to mention potential consumer benefit).   

[Burnside Digital via HotHardware]

Topics: Mobility, Intel, Laptops, Security, SMBs

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  • Oh nice

    So you walk around some malicious types and your notebook gets destroyed. Or, malware is being uploaded to it, without you knowing. Nice NSA friendly features.

    One has to wonder, haven't those people ever heard of Pandora's box?
  • RFID kill switches

    Pandora's box ... actually Pandora's jar.
    I agree absolutely ... if you are talking about "them" being able to examine error logs, then what else can they look at.
    I interpreted an RFID in this case as being a devise without which, the laptop wouldn't work, and (hopefully) the hard drive wouldn't talk to anyone. If this device was on your keyring, in your wallet, or driving license, then great. I would never see it as actually destroying your laptop, but it should have an escape clause ... maybe a LONG code that could be downloaded to an app on your phone in case you lost the RIFD. Losing the RIFD shouldn't mean that you could never use the laptop again.
  • I'm Glad to See ZDNet Has Some Savvy Readers

    Kill Switches and remote monitoring just transfer the problem (i.e. my devices and data being stolen) from one criminal to the next.
  • Don't bother asking the end user...

    if they're interested in a remote kill switch. It seems to me they're most concerned about controlling the spread of every kind of digital information. They think it all belongs to them.