Track A Stolen Laptop Using Open Source

You might not realize it, but losing a laptop is a very common problem. In fact, according to a story in July of this year, a study by the Ponemon Institute shows that up to 12,000 laptops are lost at airport security checkpoints EVERY WEEK. How do you say “holy S**tballs” in geek?

But, there are solutions and, among them, is a free, open source option.

Picture 2 The solution is Adeona and I had the opportunity to watch a short presentation by these guys at Gnomedex only a short while ago. The project is coming out of the University of Washington. Here is how it is described:

Adeona is the first Open Source system for tracking the location of your lost or stolen laptop that does not rely on a proprietary, central service. This means that you can install Adeona on your laptop and go — there’s no need to rely on a single third party. What’s more, Adeona addresses a critical privacy goal different from existing commercial offerings. It is privacy-preserving. This means that no one besides the owner (or an agent of the owner’s choosing) can use Adeona to track a laptop. Unlike other systems, users of Adeona can rest assured that no one can abuse the system in order to track where they use their laptop.

How it works is pretty simple. You download the free client software to your laptop and install it. That client software will then begin sending encrypted information to servers on the Internet on the geographic location of your laptop. If the laptop every goes missing, you as the owner can log in with your username and password and view the information on where your laptop is. The software is free and it is using the free storage service OpenDHT to store the data.

As an added benefit, if you’re using a Mac, the software will use isightcapture to take a quick snapshot using the built-in Isight webcam and therefore send a picture of whoever is using your MacBook.

You might be wondering how it knows where the laptop is. The answer is: it doesn’t. Your laptop most likely does not have any built in GPS technology. Instead, the system logs the IP addresses used to connect to the Internet as well as any data on nearby routers. And as most geeks know, it isn’t usually hard to geo-locate an IP address. At the very least, you can report the information to authorities and track down the thief.

This is free and open source and, for that reason, lacks many of the features of the commercial services such as Lojack for Laptops or PC PhoneHome. But, the creators of Adeona were trying to solve the privacy problem. The concern with commercial services is that they could be used to track even the legitimate owner of the laptop. The overriding goal of Adeona was to make sure only the actual owner of the laptop could see the data.

Since Adeona is open source, we’re likely to see new features built on top of it. Anyone can take the source code and improve upon it. Perhaps we might even see Adeona adapted to the Iphone. That would make a very cool app seeing as the Iphone 3G has integrated GPS technology. The downloads page of the Adeona site says they are exploring the possibility of Iphone and Windows Mobile versions.

Adeona is available for Windows, Mac and Linux and is free to try.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Copyright © PcBerg