sabato 5 novembre 2011

How to (possibly) track your laptop if it’s stolen.

Laptops are one of the greatest inventions in the last 40 years.  They make most things easier and greatly improve the portability of your work load.  The downside of all this portability is that it makes things much easier to steal.  So what happens when your laptop is stolen?  All your information, pictures, work, passwords, everything, gone with the wind.  So how can you possibly keep this from happening?  Although there’s no way to completely guarantee your information is safe and that your computer can be tracked if it’s stolen, there’s a good chance that by doing these three things, you have a much better chance.

First and foremost, lets protect your most sensitive information.  There’s a free program called TrueCrypt that will allow you to create encrypted containers of various types.  You can even encrypt your entire hard drive.  Although that would protect your information from being read, it would destroy everything we want to do.  When a thief steals something and realizes he can’t use it, i.e. can’t boot the computer because it’s encrypted, he will either ditch it as quickly as possible to make some small coin from it, or just wipe it out and reinstall windows destroying all your information and making it near impossible to find your computer again.  You want to create a small container big enough to store the information you want, but small enough not to draw immediate attention from someone who might be looking.  TrueCrypt has a great Beginner’s Tutorial you should check out to get more details on how to use it.

Second in our list is installing software for tracking your laptop.  There’s an open source project called the Prey Project that does just that.  Being open source it’s not only free, but it also has a great community for support in the off chance you have an issue.  There’s even a Prey Pro that offers more services and features you can use to track your computers, phones and other devices, for a fee (gotta support that free version somehow).  Other options for tracking your computer are available, just search google, they’re everywhere.  In the event you don’t like this option (not sure why) you could also use some of the free for personal use remote software packages.  Companies like Teamviewer and LogMeIn offer such options.  Although these won’t allow you to track your laptop, you can see when it comes online, maybe get an IP address that can be used to track it or turn on the webcam and get good look at your thief.  Whatever choice you make just ensure you know how to use the programs fully so that if your machine goes missing, you don’t have to suddenly learn and lose time you could be using to get your machine back.

Third in our list is both securing your account and unsecuring your computer.  Makes sense right?  Let me explain.  Just like with the encryption, we don’t want your computer to be unusable, but we also don’t want your information accessible.  So password protect your account to fend off the thief (keep in mind a smart thief can still get in, I can crack any windows account password in less than 5 minutes), and create a second account without a password for him to use.  Yes that’s right, give your thief an account to use.  We want him to use the computer, because if he doesn’t we have nothing to track.  Your computer has to be running with all your programs intact for us to find it.

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