Macbooks (and laptops in general) are coveted and treasured possessions. They are also very pricey. Opportunistic thieves around the world try and break into houses, cars, lockers – pretty much anywhere – to get their sweaty little mitts on them.
With this article, find out how can you track down and recover your stolen laptop.
On March 21st 2011, somebody broke into Joshua Kaufman’s house and stole his MacBook. Luckily for him though, he had installed a MacBook app called ‘Hidden’ that monitors the laptop’s location via GPS and secretly takes pictures of the person who has the computer.
Oakland police were notified and Kaufman gave the pictures to the police, but as they were busy with more pressing cases he had little response from them. So he created a blog entitled This Guy Has My Macbook that went viral and got media coverage in America. After the media storm that followed, the police located the computer and recovered it for him.
’Hidden’ is a small application created by a software developer in Watford, England. Once the app is installed, it lies dormant on your MacBook. In the event that the computer is stolen, the owner can login to an online portal and mark the device as ‘stolen’.
This then activates security measures and allows the laptop to be tracked. Hidden achieves this by suggesting that you create a guest account on the computer. This account isn’t password protected, and therefore encourages the thief to use the computer. This is essential for Hidden to capture the data that’s needed. Hidden uses Skyhook, which is a location positioning system that collects data from WiFi access points, GPS satellites and cell towers around the world.
For the reader who hate apple (and love or hate windows, but use it), Prey (preyproject.com) is an opensource and free application that performs similar deeds, along with tracking iPhones, android phones, macs and linux boxes.
Then the fun part starts: screen shots are taken of the computer in use, as well as happy snaps of the thief in action. The new owner of Kaufman’s computer thief was photographed lying on the sofa, in his car and even in bed! This could be the start of a comical new era of helping police to locate thieves and also put the power back into Laptop owners’ hands.