Thieves make off with millions of dollars' worth of laptops and mobile devices every year. Most stolen gadgets go unrecovered, but tracking software can help. The software runs in the background of the operating system or, with some services, the boot-level layer, which makes detecting the tracker much more difficult. Services like Prey provide free software for up to three laptops or Android devices. BlackBerry, iPhone or iPad owners can use GadgetTrak (from $4).
Most services can send a command from their servers to the device to disable it—or do something more dramatic. When the thief connects to the Internet, the program can erase or encrypt personal data, sound an alarm, or even snap a photo of the thief using the device's camera. The software also logs the IP addresses that the device has connected to since the theft and attempts to determine its location based on its Wi-Fi, 3G or GPS connections.
That location data is useful, but most tracking services won't actually work with the authorities to try to get the device back for you. For assistance with the recovery process, use a service such as LoJack for Laptops (from $40) or, for iPhones and iPads, Undercover ($5). Once the owner has alerted authorities to the theft, agents from these services give them the computer's probable location and the likely identity of the thief. Some laptop makers, including Dell, offer track-and-recovery services with personal assistance as well.
Thank you for the mention of GadgetTrak! I wanted to point out that GadgetTrak actually supports all platforms including Mac, Windows, iOS, Android and Blackberry. Not only do we provide the ability to track lost/stolen devices, but also allow users to protect the data that resides on mobile devices, by encrypting and uploading the data to the cloud and allowing users to remotely wipe all data from the device.
GadgetTrak Founder & CEO
Military to sales person: Mmm, I like to purchase this security software and tracking hardware for our drones. We like to shut down our devices, perhaps self destruct the hardware and software too, thank you.
"Surely, this idea should not be new to the military, right?"
See life in all its beautiful colors, and
from different perspectives too!
. . . and what makes you think the military wanted it tracked and destroyed . . . when people want an excuse to do something, all they have to do is play DUMB about it's whereabouts.
There's a lot more to that drone story than you might think.
This may be a good idea to thwart the dumb thieves, but what about the smart ones that quickly transfer the data to a flash drive? Then it only takes a minute to reformat the drive/flash the bios. They then have a perfectly good stolen device. It would have to be a hard wired theft device to work well,unless you catch that the device is missing very quickly. Just my two cents, correct me if I am wrong.
You know I wish this company and companies that promote and create devices and software like this technology lots of good positive luck. I like to see the thieves get caught and people’s property returned to them.
Science sees no further than what it can sense.
Religion sees beyond the senses.
Cement 1971-- just as an FYI-- the company that is responsible for LoJack for Laptops is Absolute Software. They invented this industry nearly 19 years ago. Look over their webpage and you will find that their services/products are firmware based and pretty much undefeatable. A hard drive swipe won't get ride of them, and neither will a bio reflash. Thier website shows nearly 23,000 recoveries in 88 countries. Sounds very solid to me. Thanks
When is Popsci going to add a "report spam" button to their website? Knob-gobblers like dawnbennett are getting a free ride with their spam.I have emailed the editor about this a couple of times,but I am not going to do it every time a spammer posts spam.
Something that I would be interested is a beeper that I would attach to say my wrist and then insert a small chip into my device. When the distance from my device to me exceed a certain distance (or I press a find button) it would tell me where it is (or less sophisticated, "hot or cold") and beep. We have the technology for this too. *sigh* *I don't know if someone has already marketed this idea*
@cement1971 "This may be a good idea to thwart the dumb thieves"
Are there any other kind?
"A hard drive swipe won't get ride of them, and neither will a bio reflash."
A computer must manufactured with the Computrace Agent technology built into the motherboard to ensure "persistence".
If your computer does not have Computrace Agent built into it, a HDD/SSD wipe and BIOS reset will defeat all the solutions listed above.
Here is a list of computer models that have Computrace Agent embedded into the motherboard:
comeone ppl. stop listening to experts and demand that your gadgets manufacturer includes this service with the product. For example my HTC cell phone can be tracked at all times on their website. Even controlled remotely. Free
I love Prey! I've been looking for something like this for my Android phone for a while, especially since I'm a college student, and people in my school are known to have "sticky fingers".
I am going to play devil's advocate here but if the thief was smart then he'd wipe the harddrive and reinstall the OS on the computer. I can get an OS disc w/out product key for like $20 and use the product code off the sticker on the computer somewhere to make sure it activates. (BTW: When I wipe them I use Boot and Nuke)
I don't condone stealing but I do like to point out that there are ways around that lojack stuff.
I can track my HTC phone but only tried once using HTC's website. I think because I had the GPS off it couldn't locate it either.
Science always asks "can we," but doesn't seem to ask "should we."
My Samsung Focus running WP7.5 has the capability of being tracked, shut down and/or wiped remotely via a website, for free.
I recently used it to find my daughter's Smartphone that she lost. It turned out that it had slipped out of her pocket behind a cushion of a couch at her girlfriend's house. ATT also offers a paid service to do this. I suspect that most Smartphones can be tracked that way. Her phone was off, by the way. The system polls the phone every so often, so there is a good chance the last known location is close enough to get you to it. The location is shown on a map overlay, and the accuracy was within 300 feet, or so.