Mac Theft Recovery Software Tracks Thieves
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Thread: Mac Theft Recovery Software Tracks Thieves

  1. #1
    Senior Member genXer's Avatar
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    Mac Theft Recovery Software Tracks Thieves

    Hello-

    Although I am not a Mac ethusiast, I came across a software from a vendor called "Orbicule" that looks quite interesting, something called Undercover; theft recovery software.

    Saw this at Slashdot: http://it.slashdot.org/it/06/05/22/1044253.shtml

    Their story - in case you are not patient - like me - er... meaning I'm not patient either - well so much for being a writer!

    Posted by Hemos on Monday May 22, @07:32AM
    from the ironc-actions dept.
    Dubpal writes "Apple Macintosh users can now fit their machines with theft protection software that reports back on what a thief is doing with their computer, should it ever be stolen. The software, named "Undercover" allows users to report their Macs as stolen, causing the software to report back with IPs, screenshots and even a picture of the thief and his surroundings. In addition to this, Undercover begins faking hardware faults, displaying messages and even reading them aloud, alerting anyone around that the Mac's been stolen."
    From Orbicule's site - located at: http://orbicule.com/undercover/

    Because laptops are increasingly popular, and desktops are becoming smaller and more portable, computer theft has reached huge proportions worldwide: there were about 600,000 laptops stolen in the USA in the year 2004. According to a recent FBI report, 97% of all stolen computers are never recovered. Many people we know have had their Macs stolen, often in 'safe' situations. That's why we developed Undercover: a unique theft-recovery application designed from the ground up for Mac OS X.
    While commercial, I think it would still be interesting to review. I also don't know how Orbicule is as a vendor either.
    \"We\'re the middle children of history.... no purpose or place. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We\'ve all been raised by television to believe that one day we\'ll all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars -- but we won\'t. And we\'re learning slowly that fact. And we\'re very, very pissed off.\" - Tyler (Brad Pitt) Fight Club.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    Not a good idea IMO

    Undercover begins faking hardware faults, displaying messages and even reading them aloud, alerting anyone around that the Mac's been stolen."
    And giving a heads-up to the thief?

    I can see some value in the ones that silently "phone home" but not in one that advertises itself?
    If you cannot do someone any good: don't do them any harm....
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  3. #3
    Senior Member DakX's Avatar
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    Originally posted here by nihil
    Not a good idea IMO



    And giving a heads-up to the thief?
    I was thinking the same. When you want to catch the guy/girl who stole your laptop you don't want him/her to know that you know he/she has it. Otherwise he/she could just whipe the hard drive (assuming you can do that with a mac ( I don't know anyone with a mac so that might sound stupid, either way)).
    A silent program that hides, like a rootkit, would be the best solution.
    [T]he future is now.

  4. #4
    Dissident 4dm1n brokencrow's Avatar
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    Why not run a dyndns client on a PC for tracking purposes? You might have an icon in the systray, but a regedit might do away with that. Or run Hamachi as a service. With all the freeware out there, one could get real creative. Sheesh, stick a keylogger on your laptop and have it email one of your web-based acct's.

    Unfortunately, the thieves I've met up with were usually together enough to format the hdd, which would of course preempt this kind of tracking.
    “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” — Will Rogers

  5. #5
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    I have used many GPS units (exterior add-ons) in conjunction with laptops however I haven't heard if any GPS's are being employed for the purpose of tracking stolen laptops, but it sure would be easy. My cell phone has GPS and obviously I can be tracked almost anywhere. It is trivial matter to install GPS into a laptop to track it. If it's stolen you could march right up to thier house (before the police arrive or after...lol) to recover and/or make an arrest. So if someone wants to make some money, there you go!

    cheers
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  6. #6
    Dissident 4dm1n brokencrow's Avatar
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    An external GPS is going to be pretty obvious. Do they work when the laptop's turned off? Are internal units available?
    “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” — Will Rogers

  7. #7
    Member tsunami's Avatar
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    The biggest problem with this 'undercover' software is that its going to need an Internet connection to be of any use.
    So if i were a big bad nasty thief, then i would check the machine for anything interesting (password, bank details, social security number, etc). Then id reinstall the OS making sure to erase the existing installation, and there you go, a laptop free of charge, and isnt going to grass you to the police or its previous owner either silently or at the top of its voice.

    Laptops are a big issue with regards to theft.
    Simple things like this though can put off less patient thiefs.

    So things like:

    > Firmware passwording the machine (prevents you reinstalling the OS if you dont have the password)
    > An internal GPS unit (rather pricey though from what ive seen)
    > Using FileVault to encrypt all your personal data (it doesnt stop them nicking the machine, but might stop them stealing your personal details)

    However, all of these can be broken. So anyone that really wants that data of laptop can get it.

  8. #8
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    If data security is all you're concerned about, and you're using Windows 2000/XP, then all you really have to do is have strong passwords on all the administrator level accounts and enable encryption. That way, reseting the passwords or re-installing the OS makes the data unreadable.
    As for physical theft, just don't let the laptop out of your sight, even in the loo .

    Cheers,
    cgkanchi
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