New service tracks missing laptops for free

Lose your laptop these days and you lose part of your life: You say good-bye to photos, music, and personal documents that cannot be replaced, and if it's a work computer, you may be the source of a very public data breach. But now, researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, have found a way to give you a shot at getting your life back. On Monday, they plan to launch a new laptop tracking service, called Adeona that is free and private.

Named after the Roman goddess credited with guiding children back to their parents, Adeona uses software that has been under development for the past year. Here's how it works: A user downloads the free client software onto a laptop. That software then starts anonymously sending encrypted notes about the computer's whereabouts to servers on the Internet. If the laptop ever goes missing, the user downloads another program, enters a username and password, and then picks up this information from the servers, specifically a free storage service that has been around for several years, called OpenDHT.

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our Lojack systems we have at work use something called Computrace which runs in the BIOS which can not be disabled at all... it's kinda neat... even with the system just turning on it will attempt to check if its stolen against a database on the internet to see if the owner marked it as stolen... it will do this even before the OS boots! it will use any wifi signal if available, or ethernet if conencted... and as a last resort use a modem if one is pluged in... it will try what ever it takes to work... and if you have the laptop marked as stolen - wipe, after it reports its location it will wipe the hard drive with out the theif even knowing!

I don't understand how these things work. If it is a software based, can't the person reformat your computer and use it or take out the hard drive and put in a new one?

I don't see why not. But most thieves will probably boot the PC up and use it for perhaps a little while before parting-out or reformatting, if just to see if it works or if there are any goodies on it. That might give you a chance to track it.

Also set your BIOS to only boot from the HD, and password protect the BIOS from changes, it might go a little way toward getting the thief to "clean up" your OS rather than reformatting the HD before it's sold, as it's a PITA to reset the PW on a laptop bios.

(Richardo said @ #3.1)
I don't see why not. But most thieves will probably boot the PC up and use it for perhaps a little while before parting-out or reformatting, if just to see if it works or if there are any goodies on it. That might give you a chance to track it.

Also set your BIOS to only boot from the HD, and password protect the BIOS from changes, it might go a little way toward getting the thief to "clean up" your OS rather than reformatting the HD before it's sold, as it's a PITA to reset the PW on a laptop bios.

Well how about since it need to send data? Internet connection can be disabled or block port from send any info to the server. I don't see how these type of stuff can be useful. Since it is free, it still a great addition.

Yeh, power up the laptop without any Internet connection. Salvage whatever you want and format. I guess the proggy would be useful to hunt down amateurs

"Lose your laptop these days and you lose part of your life: You say good-bye to photos, music, and personal documents that cannot be replaced..."

Oh please. Talk about sensationalism. It's called backup. Try it. Besides, if your "precious" laptop was stolen, once any banking or identity information is stolen chances are the photos and junk will be wiped out before you ever find it again.

Oh **** off that was my idea, hell mine even incorporates with a GPS to get ultra accurate tracking and in a sence evidence for use in court. Ah well I'll bin it now