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What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

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Edward Mendelson
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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#91 Post by Edward Mendelson » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:43 pm

... and I should have been more accurate in my post, but I didn't know any better!

pure3d2
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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#92 Post by pure3d2 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:47 am

paulz1 wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:01 pm
It was a nice second call to Absolute support, the representative gave me a ticket number this time and sent an email with the following text:
The agent has been removed from device XYZ, make sure that the device is connected to a wired network,
must have Windows O.S. installed, perform some reboots and please allow 24.5 hours in order to complete the whole process.
So 2 hours later I got "Permanently Disable" option available in BIOS and immediately applied it :) . Thank you for your help!
"Crunching" the BIOS by rewriting it and flashing it won't do anything - repeat, will NOT DO ANYTHING - to fix the CompuTrace issue. Only someone with specialized tools that physically modify the BIOS chip (not just flash it) can accomplish that.
From my understanding, if there is an option in BIOS, if the Computrace message is conditional, then it can be located somehow in the firmware and fixed. In theory, of course :)
Does it have to be wired? Will wireless work as long as it can get to the internet?

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#93 Post by RealBlackStuff » Fri Sep 07, 2018 6:21 am

Welcome to the Forum.

Good question. Next question...
You'll need to ask the folks who have called Absolute, if they HAD to go online wired in order to deactivate their laptop.
IMHO wired only doesn't make any sense, because not everybody HAS wired...
Wifi will always work in any OS (assuming hard/software are OK and you are near an access point).

If a stolen CT-activated laptop goes online any which way, be that at work, in college, leeching from an unsecured neighbor's wifi, in Mickey D's, or wherever, Absolute is still able to trace it.
According to Absolute, they could then also remotely and wireless(!) lock/erase/whatever that laptop!

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#94 Post by pure3d2 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:02 am

RealBlackStuff wrote:
Fri Sep 07, 2018 6:21 am
Welcome to the Forum.

Good question. Next question...
You'll need to ask the folks who have called Absolute, if they HAD to go online wired in order to deactivate their laptop.
IMHO wired only doesn't make any sense, because not everybody HAS wired...
Wifi will always work in any OS (assuming hard/software are OK and you are near an access point).

If a stolen CT-activated laptop goes online any which way, be that at work, in college, leeching from an unsecured neighbor's wifi, in Mickey D's, or wherever, Absolute is still able to trace it.
According to Absolute, they could then also remotely and wireless(!) lock/erase/whatever that laptop!
That's what I thought too, but with these people, we can never assume right? :lol: I installed Windows on an X230 (1 of 2) that I just got from eBay and gave it a hotspot connection from one of the major ISPs. I don't see any of the processes in the task manager that you guys mentioned as the ones responsible for phoning home. I already put in a request with CompuTrace (they gave me a case number). Should I just leave the laptop on for a few days (reboot it here and there)?

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#95 Post by RealBlackStuff » Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:41 am

A few reboots is a must, as every time you do so, CT phones home.
It could take a few hours, or a few days, before you can change CT BIOS-settings to "Permanently disabled".
After that, do as you please.

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#96 Post by MikalE » Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:58 am

Thy may have wanted to make sure the wi-fi connection was not dropped in the middle of the operation. Maybe there is a risk of bricking the machine if that should happen.
T500 T9600 2055-BE9
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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#97 Post by pure3d2 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 5:13 pm

MikalE wrote:
Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:58 am
Thy may have wanted to make sure the wi-fi connection was not dropped in the middle of the operation. Maybe there is a risk of bricking the machine if that should happen.
I'll hook up an ethernet connection when I get home later tonight and see if those CompuTrace processes start to show up. I disabled the LAN BOOT ROM in the BIOS. Should I re-enable that? I thought that was for booting from LAN.

UPDATE: I left it on wireless for a few hours today and rebooted 3 or 4 times. I went into the BIOS and noticed that the CompuTrace pop-up warning wasn't there. I was able to permanently disable Intel AT and CompuTrace! Thanks again to everyone. FYI, the connection doesn't appear to have to be wired.

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#98 Post by madicetea » Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:14 am

pure3d2 wrote:
Fri Sep 07, 2018 5:13 pm
MikalE wrote:
Fri Sep 07, 2018 11:58 am
Thy may have wanted to make sure the wi-fi connection was not dropped in the middle of the operation. Maybe there is a risk of bricking the machine if that should happen.
I'll hook up an ethernet connection when I get home later tonight and see if those CompuTrace processes start to show up. I disabled the LAN BOOT ROM in the BIOS. Should I re-enable that? I thought that was for booting from LAN.

UPDATE: I left it on wireless for a few hours today and rebooted 3 or 4 times. I went into the BIOS and noticed that the CompuTrace pop-up warning wasn't there. I was able to permanently disable Intel AT and CompuTrace! Thanks again to everyone. FYI, the connection doesn't appear to have to be wired.
It sounds like you had a good ending. Great!

I'd rue the day that I had to deal with a CompuTrace-enabled laptop. ugh.
Last edited by madicetea on Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#99 Post by pure3d2 » Thu Sep 27, 2018 1:10 pm

I called CompuTrace in the middle of the night in the US. They had someone in China answer the phone, but they spoke English. If the day ever comes, just call them. It seems they're available 24 hours.

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#100 Post by gehx75 » Thu May 09, 2019 6:06 pm

I purchased a TPx220 on eBay, it didn't come w/ a storage drive. The listing made no mention on Computrace (until I purchased the laptop I didn't know about it). The first thing I did was fire it up and go to the BIOS, i was greeted w/ the Computrace warning...I thought WTF?? So I did some googlefu and found this thread. I called Absolute and was told the next time it phones home the warning will go away (btw I immediately deactivated the setting in the BIOS). I told the rep that I hadn't installed an OS yet, he said it will phone home after I install windows (again, WTF). So I installed Windows, the nag screen is still there when going into BIOS. So I call back and was told it had been deactivated, there's nothing to worry about but MORE IMPORTANTLY that there's NO way for them to get the nag screen to go away...like a terrible virus, it'll remain for the life of the laptop *motherboard*. He sent me an email explaining:

"Thank you for contacting Absolute, as discussed this device (XXXXXXXXXXXX ) has had the Absolute software removed by the previous owner.

The BIOS setting by itself is just cosmetic and does not confirm or deny that Absolute is installed but this is normally a one-time only setting so it cannot be changed.

If you want to further check if Absolute is installed please try searching for the process rpcnet.exe and if unfound then no further action is required however you could also try to update the BIOS to remove/revert the BIOS setting.

Other than this there is nothing else we can do to help unfortunately, as Absolute does not have control over what the OEM does with their BIOS."

Wow you mean to tell me that they can't even remove their own pile of poo??? WTH.....is there really no way to make the nag screen disappear??? <--- not a rhetorical question, asking 'cause I would like a solution.

Edward Mendelson
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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#101 Post by Edward Mendelson » Thu May 09, 2019 6:35 pm

If Computrace has in fact been deactivated on the laptop, then you should be able to go to Security-->Anti-Theft in the BIOS (or some similarly-named screen), click Computrace, and then click Permanently Disabled.

If you can't do that, then CompuTrace has not been deactivated. Please try it and let us (or Absolute) know the result.

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#102 Post by gehx75 » Thu May 09, 2019 6:57 pm

Edward Mendelson wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 6:35 pm
If Computrace has in fact been deactivated on the laptop, then you should be able to go to Security-->Anti-Theft in the BIOS (or some similarly-named screen), click Computrace, and then click Permanently Disabled.

If you can't do that, then CompuTrace has not been deactivated. Please try it and let us (or Absolute) know the result.
Anti-Theft in BIOS says:

- Current Setting Permanently Disabled
- Current State Not Activated

Then going into the submenu "Computrace":
Computrace Module Activation
- Current Setting [Enabled]
- Current State Activated

I've checked for running rpc processes and found none but why can't Computrace Module Activation in the BIOS be disabled AND how the hell do I get rid of that annoying nag screen when entering the BIOS???

This is pretty ridiculous. Not yelling, just expressing my frustration over something that should be a total non-issue to remove :) Furthermore when/if I sell this thing I'd rather not have to explain that Computrace looks like it's activated but most likely isn't....again, total BS.

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#103 Post by Edward Mendelson » Thu May 09, 2019 7:22 pm

Have you tried clicking "Computrace" and changing "Enabled" to "Permanently Disabled"? If you can't, then Absolute hasn't deactivated it. Make sure you're online and reboot again. If you can't change it to Permanently Disabled in a day or two, call them back.

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#104 Post by dwilsonfl » Sun May 12, 2019 7:16 pm

LOL I pulled some TPs off the shelf and was getting ready to list them and ran right into this again. So I get the BIOS part of this can only be solved with a call to Absolute. But the HD side which the infected laptop infected at least another... what do I need to do there? DOD wipe? Hammer?

Thanks,

David
Vocavit autem servirent

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#105 Post by skx » Mon May 13, 2019 6:00 am

gehx75 wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 6:06 pm
I purchased a TPx220 on eBay, it didn't come w/ a storage drive. The listing made no mention on Computrace (until I purchased the laptop I didn't know about it). The first thing I did was fire it up and go to the BIOS, i was greeted w/ the Computrace warning...I thought WTF?? So I did some googlefu and found this thread. I called Absolute and was told the next time it phones home the warning will go away (btw I immediately deactivated the setting in the BIOS). I told the rep that I hadn't installed an OS yet, he said it will phone home after I install windows (again, WTF). So I installed Windows, the nag screen is still there when going into BIOS. So I call back and was told it had been deactivated, there's nothing to worry about but MORE IMPORTANTLY that there's NO way for them to get the nag screen to go away...like a terrible virus, it'll remain for the life of the laptop *motherboard*. He sent me an email explaining:

"Thank you for contacting Absolute, as discussed this device (XXXXXXXXXXXX ) has had the Absolute software removed by the previous owner.

The BIOS setting by itself is just cosmetic and does not confirm or deny that Absolute is installed but this is normally a one-time only setting so it cannot be changed.

If you want to further check if Absolute is installed please try searching for the process rpcnet.exe and if unfound then no further action is required however you could also try to update the BIOS to remove/revert the BIOS setting.

Other than this there is nothing else we can do to help unfortunately, as Absolute does not have control over what the OEM does with their BIOS."

Wow you mean to tell me that they can't even remove their own pile of poo??? WTH.....is there really no way to make the nag screen disappear??? <--- not a rhetorical question, asking 'cause I would like a solution.
Just coreboot the machine, X220 has perfect coreboot support. Less hassle :)
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ThinkPad X230: i5-3320M CPU 3.3GHz - 8GB RAM 1600 MHz - SSD 860 EVO 500GB - Debian - ME_cleaned

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#106 Post by farmall » Wed Aug 21, 2019 4:47 pm

Just coreboot the machine, X220 has perfect coreboot support. Less hassle :)
There are obviously other, perhaps related, backdoors so Coreboot may be the solution.

Much love for Thinkpads but every Chinese company is an organ of the Party. Nothing anyone here does with their entertainment/hobby machines handles classified nor should it. https://www.fedmanager.com/featured/9-g ... ld-devices

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#107 Post by MikalE » Wed Aug 21, 2019 6:47 pm

They may have to change their name to the Chinkpad.
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T520 i7 4242-4UU(CTO)


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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#108 Post by gehx75 » Wed Aug 21, 2019 7:00 pm

skx wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 6:00 am
gehx75 wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 6:06 pm
I purchased a TPx220 on eBay, it didn't come w/ a storage drive. The listing made no mention on Computrace (until I purchased the laptop I didn't know about it). The first thing I did was fire it up and go to the BIOS, i was greeted w/ the Computrace warning...I thought WTF?? So I did some googlefu and found this thread. I called Absolute and was told the next time it phones home the warning will go away (btw I immediately deactivated the setting in the BIOS). I told the rep that I hadn't installed an OS yet, he said it will phone home after I install windows (again, WTF). So I installed Windows, the nag screen is still there when going into BIOS. So I call back and was told it had been deactivated, there's nothing to worry about but MORE IMPORTANTLY that there's NO way for them to get the nag screen to go away...like a terrible virus, it'll remain for the life of the laptop *motherboard*. He sent me an email explaining:

"Thank you for contacting Absolute, as discussed this device (XXXXXXXXXXXX ) has had the Absolute software removed by the previous owner.

The BIOS setting by itself is just cosmetic and does not confirm or deny that Absolute is installed but this is normally a one-time only setting so it cannot be changed.

If you want to further check if Absolute is installed please try searching for the process rpcnet.exe and if unfound then no further action is required however you could also try to update the BIOS to remove/revert the BIOS setting.

Other than this there is nothing else we can do to help unfortunately, as Absolute does not have control over what the OEM does with their BIOS."

Wow you mean to tell me that they can't even remove their own pile of poo??? WTH.....is there really no way to make the nag screen disappear??? <--- not a rhetorical question, asking 'cause I would like a solution.
Just coreboot the machine, X220 has perfect coreboot support. Less hassle :)
FWIW the 'nag' eventually went away (after calling Computrace)...i've since corebooted the machine....all is well.

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#109 Post by 28CarsLater » Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:56 pm

RealBlackStuff,

I am curious, when you killed Computrace do you mean you went into the BIOS and set it to permanently disabled or was it activated and you found a solution? I ask because I have three X300s and one -after I owned and used it for four years after purchase in 2014- decided to activate itself inexplicably and presents me with a misspelled message to email someone. I just contacted Absolute and they replied:

"It appears that the previous owner believes this device to be missing/stolen therefore please contact ctu@fxcm.com for the next steps. Unfortunately there isn't anything Absolute can help with as this customer is an active user with valid licences."

Obviously this whole conversation about a nearly 12 year old computer is ridiculous but it sounds like if you renew with them anything you ever had is suddenly supported regardless if the individual lease has run out (which it obviously has by now). Perhaps the company renewed and they/Absolute sent the kill signal out to anything of a certain older version? Don't know, but the fact this was dormant for eleven years and suddenly isn't is certainly troubling.

One of the X300s was bought for parts as its screen is shattered so push come to shove I could swap boards, and I also was going to experiment with Linux so all is not lost. But apparently Absolute doesn't seem to want to help anymore if their original client is still active no matter the computer/age so that really puts a fly in the ointment for Thinkpad enthusiasts. So, do you happen to have some sort of solution?

Thanks,
Greg
Primary: Split between a T430S and a Precision M4700.
Laying around: X300(s), R500, R60
In various states: X301(s), W701, misc T/R500s

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#110 Post by RealBlackStuff » Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:10 am

When I do such things I first read out the EEPROM in which passwords and such stuff is stored.
Then modify the readout to remove SVP and/or CT and write it back.
I can do it for you, but shipping costs (from USA to Ireland and back) alone will probably be prohibitive.
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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#111 Post by 28CarsLater » Fri Oct 11, 2019 2:02 pm

Thanks for the reply, and I'm glad to see there is a way around it but it takes a special breed to find the fix. I'm sentimental about the thing because that was the X300 I took to Las Vegas, Canada, and Europe plus I do have a lot of data on it. I was able to boot a Linux live cd so what I probably should do is just copy my data off of it and reformat and install Linux or FreeBSD or something. I know there has been a lot of discussion on this thread regarding CompuTrace and Linux, be curious to see if the 2008ish iteration of Computrace can hack into modern *nix.
Primary: Split between a T430S and a Precision M4700.
Laying around: X300(s), R500, R60
In various states: X301(s), W701, misc T/R500s

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#112 Post by elisha.youngs » Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:33 pm

just install chromebook OS from cloudready, easy.

yeah it is not windows but it is good enough or me, hugs- Liz ❤️

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#113 Post by kboogie222 » Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:23 pm

Has anyone used or have any opinions on these types of solutions?
https://www.bios-downloads.com/2018/02/27/133922/

Claims to unlock supervisor and computrace via custom flash.

Thoughts?
T431S (daily driver) T440S (for the kids) T480S (restoration project)

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Re: What to do if Computrace is activated in your TP BIOS

#114 Post by skx » Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:16 pm

kboogie222 wrote:
Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:23 pm
Has anyone used or have any opinions on these types of solutions?
https://www.bios-downloads.com/2018/02/27/133922/

Claims to unlock supervisor and computrace via custom flash.

Thoughts?
No! Even the website is malicious goddammit!

Either you follow the official way and get in touch with CompuServe or you coreboot your machine if corebootable.
ThinkPad X220: i5-2520M CPU 2.5GHz - 8GB RAM 1333 MHz - SSD 860 EVO 250GB - Debian - ME_cleaned
ThinkPad X230: i5-3320M CPU 3.3GHz - 8GB RAM 1600 MHz - SSD 860 EVO 500GB - Debian - ME_cleaned

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