Free Laptop-Tracking System Hits The Streets

Published Date
01 - Aug - 2008
| Last Updated
01 - Aug - 2008
Free Laptop-Tracking System Hits The Streets

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No matter what you do to protect yourself, passwords, encryption, biometrics, firewall, and an anti-virus, you still have one major worry and that’s theft. The one thing worse than that, is mistakenly losing it, because that makes it your fault, and that’s naturally worse than anything else.

Once you’d lost or had your laptop stolen, you relied entirely on the good faith of humanity or at the very least, a police force, to recover your device. Researchers at Washington University and California University have joined up to create Adeona that secures laptop data.

Researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, have launched Adeona, an open source service aimed at helping consumers and businesses track the location of lost or stolen laptops. Adeona is an independent system, which doesn’t rely on any third party software or a central server. You install it and it works, nothing more to it.

It’s designed to answer the needs of corporations and government entities that have seen an increase in personal data breaches because of missing laptops, as well as consumers who are putting more music, photos and memories on to their portable computers.

Initially, the research project was not about delivering a service for people. They were originally looking at the privacy implications of some of the device-tracking systems now on the market. But as they delved further, they realised they were going to develop a client that people would be interested in using.

Interest stems from the fact that existing commercial laptop-tracking products involve someone besides the owner having access to personal data.

Users install Adeona onto their laptops, which then set up encrypted connections to the open source OpenDHT storage servers on the Web. If a user loses a laptop or is the victim of theft, another download and a password allows him to track his device via last-known Internet protocol (IP) addresses and Internet nodes that were used to connect to the missing machine. Users are the only ones to see the information about their laptops.

We do have questions about whether an open source based tracking system would itself be secure, since any developer would have access to the source code. The fact that it’s open source makes the structure of security

visible to the bad guys as well. Corporations don’t open source security for that reason.

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