Thursday, 2 June 2011

Preyed Upon

The BBC has recently reported how a Mac owner recovered his laptop by using Hidden. Hidden, however, costs $15 per year (just over £9), and can cost up to $400 for a more comprehensive service.

What the Beeb fails to mention is that there is a program that does this for free, on most operating systems (including android mobile phones).

This program is called Prey.

Even better, Prey is open source, providing another layer of protection by allowing anyone to look at its code and check it does only what it says it does.

Of course neither of these services will secure your laptop's return if the thief reformats your hard drive, or gives up trying to break your password (especially if you have a BIOS password enabled, though even these can be worked around). In this case your best bet is to have a note of the laptop serial number and use a service like SmartWater.

I should also make you aware of (possibly legitimate) concerns about Prey. It may be regularly sending the users API key (somewhat like a password) in an unencrypted format.

Because I'm on the subject of technology security I will also take the chance to plug Tor. Tor allows you to surf the web anonymously and can be incorporated into the Firefox browser using a "Tor Button".

And finally; HTTPS Everywhere automatically choses secure connections to a number of websites where possible, especially useful if you regularly use a laptop in an insecure location (eg. a cafe's wireless hot-spot).

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