Tag Archives: recovery

Download Prey – A Free Recovery Solution to a Lost or Stolen Laptop

image I’ve been planning for some time on writing an update on lost or stolen Laptops, the costs involved, and the consequences that often follow.

Following last night’s news story on “Laptops containing sensitive records belonging to thousands of Ontario teachers have been stolen”, on my local (Toronto) CBC News – now seems like the perfect time. So, let me mount my soapbox for just a moment.

What I found particularly offensive in this news story:

The Laptops were stolen December 3, 2009, and yet it took until January 27, 2010 to notify the affected parties. This, despite the fact, that stolen information of this type can be used to obtain false passports and fake credit cards, or for re-mortgaging a victim’s home.

As is often the case in this type of situation, the data on the Laptops was not encrypted.

Officials involved in this debacle were quoted as saying “but the computers were password-protected”. Officials, who obviously have no understanding, that readily available and legal, free software, can be downloaded from the Internet that can break, or reset passwords, in minutes.

This type of occurrence begs the question: is this just a “one off” or, is this type of occurrence a continuing problem?

If we are to be guided by recent survey results from the Ponemon Institute, which indicate that more than 10,000 laptops are lost, or stolen, each week at U.S. airports alone, coupled with statistics which indicate that a laptop is stolen, not lost but stolen, every 53 seconds,  it would be hard to dismiss this as an isolated occurrence.

Reportedly, 65% of lost or stolen laptops are not reclaimed, despite the fact that half the laptops contain confidential corporate information, which, in most cases, is not encrypted.

One would assume, that encrypting sensitive data on enterprise or government laptops, or portable media, would be SOP. Instead, it seems that 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”.

There are substantial hard costs incurred in the loss or thief of a Laptop, and again, statistics available from the Ponemon Institute “Cost of a Lost Laptop”, indicate that these hard costs can approach $50,000 per occurrence, for enterprise.

It’s not only business or government that should be concerned with the loss, or theft, of a Laptops – it’s every bit as likely to happen to individual Laptop owners.

If you are a Laptop owner, you should consider what can you do now, 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. 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.

Prey  web service

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.

image

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.

Fast facts:

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

For a review and download links to free encryption software please read “Lose Your USB Stick and You Lose it All – Encrypt Now with Free Software!” on this site.

If you found this article useful, 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.

5 Comments

Filed under downloads, Free Laptop Tracking Software, Freeware, Laptop recovery, Open Source, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Prey – A Free Stolen Laptop Recovery Solution

clip_image001You’ll never lose your Laptop computer, and you take particular care to ensure it won’t be stolen, right? Of course you do. But does loss, or theft, of laptops happen? You bet.

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.

Prey web service

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.

Fast facts:

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.

5 Comments

Filed under downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Laptop recovery, Open Source, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

CD Recovery Toolbox – Recover Damaged CD/DVD Data

CD Recovery Toolbox, a free CD/DVD file recovery solution that can help you recover damaged data that you may have considered unrecoverable.

damaged_cd So how many coasters do you have that started life as critical backup CD/DVD’s, or the CD/DVD’s that you entrusted to store a lifetime of photo memories? Well if you’re like most of us, you may have more than one.

As a long term file storage medium, CD/DVD’s are, in effect, all-purpose, durable and, generally inexpensive. The difficulty in relying on this storage medium however is; they aren’t always as reliable as we sometimes seem to think.

Recently, I experienced CD failure when testing a system using a special boot CD called, “The Ultimate Boot CD”, which ironically failed to boot despite the decisiveness of its name.

There I was stuck with an unreadable CD; but being the “geeky” kind of guy that I am, and having been through similar situations in the past, I’ve learned to double up on all my diagnostic tools. Later, I confirmed that the unreadable CD had not been burned correctly – the deadly “bad burn”.

So you’re not alone in turning what you may consider to be, unusable/unreadable CD/DVD’s into expensive coasters. But there is a solution that can help you to recover damaged data that you may have considered unrecoverable. Stepping into the picture is CD Recovery Toolbox, a free CD/DVD file recovery tool.

cdrecovery_page03normal

This small, free application was designed to recover damaged files on CD, DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-Ray disks. It can recover files that have been lost as a result of physical damage to the disk, (scratches, chips, and so on), or as a result of a bad or inaccurate recording.

The program scans damaged CD and DVD disks and produces a listing of files and folders on the media, which it can recover. Be aware however, that depending on the degree of damage, there may be files that the application cannot recover.

In testing this product’s file recovery ability on a severely scratched and chipped disk, I’m happy to say that it recovered 934 files out of a total of 936, that Windows could not read, and it did this in less than 2 minutes

Data recovery is generally a complex process, but even beginners will have an easy time with this application based on it’s step-by step wizard, which makes the use of the tool very simple and convenient.

Quick facts:

Recovers files/folders from CD and DVD’s

Recovers files larger than 4 GB

Detects lack of free space on the designated storage hard drive

System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2K/XP/2K3/Vista

Download at: Download.com

1 Comment

Filed under CD/DVD Recovery Tools, CD/DVD Tools, Free File Recovery Applications, Freeware, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Recover Damaged CD/DVD Data – Free CD Recovery Toolbox

damaged_cd So how many coasters do you have that started life as critical backup CD/DVD’s, or the CD/DVD’s that you entrusted to store a lifetime of photo memories? Well if you’re like most of us, you may have more than one.

As a long term file storage medium, CD/DVD’s are, in effect, all-purpose, durable and, generally inexpensive. The difficulty in relying on this storage medium however is; they aren’t always as reliable as we sometimes seem to think.

Recently, I experienced CD failure when testing a system using a special boot CD called, “The Ultimate Boot CD”, which ironically failed to boot despite the decisiveness of its name.

There I was stuck with an unreadable CD; but being the “geeky” kind of guy that I am, and having been through similar situations in the past, I’ve learned to double up on all my diagnostic tools. Later, I confirmed that the unreadable CD had not been burned correctly – the deadly “bad burn”.

So you’re not alone in turning what you may consider to be, unusable/unreadable CD/DVD’s into expensive coasters. But there is a solution that can help you to recover damaged data that you may have considered unrecoverable. Stepping into the picture is CD Recovery Toolbox, a free CD/DVD file recovery tool.

cdrecovery_page03normal

(Click pic for larger)

This small, free application was designed to recover damaged files on CD, DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-Ray disks. It can recover files that have been lost as a result of physical damage to the disk, (scratches, chips, and so on), or as a result of a bad or inaccurate recording.

The program scans damaged CD and DVD disks and produces a listing of files and folders on the media, which it can recover. Be aware however, that depending on the degree of damage, there may be files that the application cannot recover.

In testing this product’s file recovery ability on a severely scratched and chipped disk, I’m happy to say that it recovered 934 files out of a total of 936, that Windows could not read, and it did this in less than 2 minutes

Data recovery is generally a complex process, but even beginners will have an easy time with this application based on it’s step-by step wizard, which makes the use of the tool very simple and convenient.

I have read a number of unrealistic complaints from some users, who have noted this application is “slow” at recovery. Instead of being thankful that a free application such as this can in fact recover what would normally be unrecoverable, and perhaps irreplaceable data, they whine and complain. Here’s some advice for those users – give your head a shake, and learn to be thankful!

Quick facts:

Recovers files/folders from CD and DVD’s

Recovers files larger than 4 GB

Detects lack of free space on the designated storage hard drive

System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2K/XP/2K3/Vista

Download at: Download.com

6 Comments

Filed under CD/DVD Recovery Tools, CD/DVD Tools, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Stolen or Lost Laptop Tracker Software – Adeona Free

stolen-laptopYou’ll never lose your Laptop computer, and you take particular care to ensure it won’t be stolen, right? Of course you do. But does loss, or theft, of laptops happen? You bet.

Recent survey results from the Ponemon Institute, indicates 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, than the above statistics indicate?

adeona

Adeona (named after the Roman goddess of safe returns), is a recently released small software client for tracking the location of a lost, or stolen laptop, that does not rely on a proprietary central service, but instead, is offered free by the Open Source community.

This powerful free software has been developed through collaboration involving the University of Washington, the University of California San Diego and the University of California Davis.

The developer’s website describes the application as follows:

Adeona is designed to use the Open Source OpenDHT distributed storage service to store location updates sent by a small software client installed on an owner’s laptop.

The client continually monitors the current location of the laptop, gathering information (such as IP addresses and local network topology) that can be used to identify its current location.

The client then uses strong cryptographic mechanisms to not only encrypt the location data, but also ensure that the cipher texts stored within OpenDHT are anonymous and unlinkable. At the same time, it is easy for an owner to retrieve location information.

Quick facts:

Private: Adeona uses state-of-the-art cryptographic mechanisms to ensure that the owner is the only party that can use the system to reveal the locations visited by a device.

Reliable: Adeona uses a community-based remote storage facility, ensuring retrievability of recent location updates. (See caveat)

Open source and free: Adeona’s software is licensed under GPLv2. While your locations are secret, the tracking system’s design is not.

The Mac OS X version can capture pictures of the laptop user, or thief, using the built-in iSight camera.

System Requirements: Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X, Linux

Download at the developer’s web site: Adeona

A caveat: According to the development team, “OpenDHT has been experiencing some problems. We are working on a new private version, that does not depend on OpenDHT”.

For a review and download links to free encryption software read “Lose Your USB Stick and You Lose it All – Encrypt Now with Free Software!” on this site.

5 Comments

Filed under Free Laptop Tracking Software, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Open Source, Software, Surveilance Tools, Windows Tips and Tools

Adeona – Free – Stolen/Lost Laptop Tracker Software

You’ll never lose your Laptop computer, and you take particular care to ensure it won’t be stolen, right? Of course you do. But does loss, or theft, of laptops happen? You bet.

Recent survey results from the Ponemon Institute, indicates 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, than the above statistics indicate?

Adeona (named after the Roman goddess of safe returns), is a newly released small software client for tracking the location of a lost, or stolen laptop, that does not rely on a proprietary central service, but instead, is offered free by the Open Source community.

This powerful free software has been developed through collaboration involving the University of Washington, the University of California San Diego and the University of California Davis.

The developer’s website describes the application as follows:

Adeona is designed to use the Open Source OpenDHT distributed storage service to store location updates sent by a small software client installed on an owner’s laptop.

The client continually monitors the current location of the laptop, gathering information (such as IP addresses and local network topology) that can be used to identify its current location.

The client then uses strong cryptographic mechanisms to not only encrypt the location data, but also ensure that the cipher texts stored within OpenDHT are anonymous and unlinkable. At the same time, it is easy for an owner to retrieve location information.

Quick facts:

Private: Adeona uses state-of-the-art cryptographic mechanisms to ensure that the owner is the only party that can use the system to reveal the locations visited by a device.

Reliable: Adeona uses a community-based remote storage facility, ensuring retrievability of recent location updates.

Open source and free: Adeona’s software is licensed under GPLv2. While your locations are secret, the tracking system’s design is not.

The Mac OS X version can capture pictures of the laptop user, or thief, using the built-in iSight camera.

System Requirements: Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X, Linux

Download at the developer’s web site: Adeona

For a review and download links to free encryption software read “Lose Your USB Stick and You Lose it All – Encrypt Now with Free Software!” on this Blog.

2 Comments

Filed under Free Laptop Tracking Software, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Open Source, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Lost or Stolen Laptop – Get it Back With Adeona (Maybe)

Survey results released this past week by The Ponemon Institute, which was sponsored by Dell, indicates 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 these 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 have a better chance that it will be returned to you, than the above statistics indicate?

Adeona is a newly released small software client for tracking the location of a lost or stolen laptop that does not rely on a proprietary central service, and which is offered free by the Open Source community.

The developer’s website describes the application as follows:

Adeona is designed to use the Open Source OpenDHT distributed storage service to store location updates sent by a small software client installed on an owner’s laptop. The client continually monitors the current location of the laptop, gathering information (such as IP addresses and local network topology) that can be used to identify its current location.

The client then uses strong cryptographic mechanisms to not only encrypt the location data, but also ensure that the cipher texts stored within OpenDHT are anonymous and unlinkable. At the same time, it is easy for an owner to retrieve location information.

Stolen Laptop Pic from an onboard camera.

Quick facts:

  • Private: Adeona uses state-of-the-art cryptographic mechanisms to ensure that the owner is the only party that can use the system to reveal the locations visited by a device.
  • Reliable: Adeona uses a community-based remote storage facility, ensuring retrievability of recent location updates.
  • Open source and free: Adeona’s software is licensed under GPLv2. While your locations are secret, the tracking system’s design is not.
  • The Mac OS X version can capture pictures of the laptop user or thief using the built-in iSight camera.

System Requirements: Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X, Linux

Download at the developer’s web site: Adeona

Please note: I have been advised that these files are currently available for download.

For a primary on what happens to stolen information read, Another Advantage of Credit Cards, on my good friend TechPaul’s Blog

2 Comments

Filed under Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Mobile Applications, Open Source, Software, Surveilance Tools, Surveillance, System Security, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Fix Damaged CD/DVD’s – Free CD Recovery Toolbox

So how many coasters do you have that started life as critical backup CD/DVD’s, or the CD/DVD’s that you entrusted to store a lifetime of photo memories? Well if you’re like most of us, you may have more than one.

As a long term file storage medium, CD/DVD’s are, in effect, all-purpose, durable and, generally inexpensive. The difficulty in relying on this storage medium however is; they aren’t always as reliable as we sometimes seem to think.

Recently, I experienced CD failure when testing a system using a special boot CD called, “The Ultimate Boot CD”, which ironically failed to boot despite the decisiveness of its name.

There I was stuck with an unreadable CD; but being the “geeky” kind of guy that I am, and having been through similar situations in the past, I’ve learned to double up on all my diagnostic tools. Later, I confirmed that the unreadable CD had not been burned correctly – the deadly “bad burn”.

So you’re not alone in turning what you may consider to be, unusable/unreadable CD/DVD’s into expensive coasters. But there is a solution that can help you to recover damaged data that you may have considered unrecoverable. Stepping into the picture is CD Recovery Toolbox, a free CD/DVD file recovery tool.

This small, free application was designed to recover damaged files on CD, DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-Ray disks. It can recover files that have been lost as a result of physical damage to the disk, (scratches, chips, and so on), or as a result of a bad or inaccurate recording.

The program scans damaged CD and DVD disks and produces a listing of files and folders on the media, which it can recover. Be aware however, that depending on the degree of damage, there may be files that the application cannot recover.

In testing this product’s file recovery ability on a severely scratched and chipped disk, I’m happy to say that it recovered 934 files out of a total of 936, that Windows could not read, and it did this in less than 2 minutes

Data recovery is generally a complex process but even beginners will have an easy time with this application based on it’s step-by step wizard, which makes the use of the tool very simple and convenient.

Quick facts:

Recovers files/folders from CD and DVD’s

Recovers files larger than 4 GB

Detects lack of free space on the designated storage hard drive

System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2K/XP/2K3/Vista

Download at: Download.com

8 Comments

Filed under CD/DVD Recovery Tools, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Multimedia Tools, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools