Recent survey results from the Ponemon Institute, indicate that more than 10,000 laptops are lost, or stolen, each week at U.S. airports. Are you as surprised as I am?
Not surprised? Well, how about this astonishing statistic from the same survey: 65% of those lost or stolen laptops are not reclaimed, despite the fact that half the laptops contain confidential corporate information.
One can only hope that the data on these laptops was encrypted, although it seems when we read news stories about a lost or stolen laptop, the pattern seems to be as follows; – 200,000 (insert your own number here), bank account numbers, Social Security Numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth were on an unencrypted laptop stolen/lost earlier this week.
Other available statistics indicate that a laptop is stolen, not lost but stolen, every 53 seconds and 97% of stolen laptop computers are never recovered.
So what can you do to increase the probability that should your laptop be lost or stolen, you can increase the chances that it will be returned to you?
One solution is offered by Prey, an open source application, that can enhance recovery chances significantly.
According to the developer:
Prey helps you locate your missing laptop by sending timed reports with a bunch of information of its whereabouts. This includes the general status of the computer, a list of running programs and active connections, fully-detailed network and wifi information, a screenshot of the running desktop and – in case your laptop has an integrated webcam – a picture of the thief.
Prey uses a remote activation system which means the program sits silently in your computer until you actually want it to run. If so, it gathers all the information and sends it to your Prey web control panel or directly to your mailbox. The thief will never know his movements are being watched.
Stolen laptop recovery is always a hit and miss proposition, but without an application such as Prey on board the chances of recovery, at least statistically, are virtually nil.
There is no guarantee that even with Prey on board that a stolen, or lost laptop, will be recovered – but it seems sensible to make every effort to increase that likelihood. Prey, may be just the solution you’ve been looking for.
Wifi autoconnect – Prey checks if there’s an active internet connection to send the information.
Geo-location aware – Prey uses wifi hotspots to locate devices geographically. This not only includes lat/lng coordinates, but also an altitude indicator.
Lightweight - Prey is written in bash which means it has virtually no dependencies, only what it different modules need to work. This also means Prey is portable and should run in just about any computer.
Modular architecture – You can add, remove and configure the different parts of Prey as you wish. Prey is composed by modules, each one performing a specific task.
Powerful report system – Get the list of current running programs, the recently modified files, active connections, running uptime, take a screenshot of the running desktop or even a picture of the guy who’s using the computer.
Messaging/alert system – You can alert the thief he’s being chased at by sending messages which will appear on screen. You can also trigger alarms to make the message clear not only to him but also to whomever is nearby.
Module auto-installer – You don’t have to reinstall Prey to keep up with the latest and greatest modules. We keep a repository from where Prey will fetch what it needs to get the job done.
System requirements: Windows 2000, XP & Vista, Mac OS, Ubuntu Linux, Linux -other distributions
Download at: The Prey Project
If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.