Looking for an inexpensive -- or better yet, free -- way to track your laptop or Android smartphone in the event it gets stolen? Check out Prey, an open source project that offers multi-OS tracking, reporting -- and countermeasures!
Just download the Prey client software, install, and register an account -- you'll need one in order to be able to access the service's Web-based control panel. Prey can collect a ton of valuable information from your device should it go missing, like:
- its MAC address and current IP
- nearby wireless access points
- session activity, including screenshots of the active desktop
- detailed hardware information, including serial number(s)
- geolocation data via GPS or Wi-Fi
- a webcam (or front-facing camera) image
Prey's reporting and action modules
The hardware info Prey gathered about my Gateway netbook
The control panel also allows you to perform a handful of remote actions such as locking the device, sounding an alarm for 30 seconds, giving the thief a scary verbal (and wallpaper-based) warning, and even delete browser cookies, saved passwords and hide your emails. Prey's alarm doesn't disappoint, either -- it's a police siren and is highly irritating.
While it's not a totally stealth install like some paid theft recovery software, Prey is sneaky enough to get the job done. It installs itself as a service and doesn't include an easily-to-locate uninstaller. On the few occasions I've had to assist the RCMP with stolen laptop recovery, the thief has never had the presence of mind to take any steps that would sidestep Prey.
Prey is totally free for up to three devices, and there are premium plans offered for businesses (or gadget-loving families) who need to track additional hardware.
Got an Android smartphone? Be sure to check out Sebastian's look at Prey for Android!
Monday, November 1, 2010
Prey tracks stolen Windows, Mac or Linux laptops, or Android smartphones, for free