Back in December, my laptop was stolen while I was out of town. Much of what I had on the laptop was backed up or cloud based, so materially, the loss was tough, not catastrophic. This really got me to thinking and finding ways to protect a laptop. If I lose my iPhone, I have ways to find it or “brick” it, but what about a Windows 7 laptop???
I found an open source project that provides protection for PCs, Macs and Phones similar to what Apple offers for the iPhone. It is called the Prey Project (http://preyproject.com/) and they have two flavors, free and pay. The free service is a little more limited that the pay service, but looks to be rather robust, just limited to the number of devices. I am only looking at the free for PC version at this time. The pay service is reasonable, starting out at $5 per month that covers 3 devices. There are five tiers that cover from 3 to 500 devices and run as much as $399 a month. In effect, they cover everyone from the home user to the larger companies.
In effect, it installs and stays silent until you log in to the website and activate the system. When activated, as soon as the device gets on the internet, the commands are processed. The picture shows the commands available and how they are set. You can geo-locate the device by the nearist WiFi connection or if the device has a GPS, by the GPS. You can get a detailed report about the device’s network status, you can view the webcam, you can make the device alarm or lock and there are several more. You can get a snapshot of the screen and/or a list of processes running on the device when it logs into the Prey Project. All in all a very interesting program that is really hard to find for the non-technical user. The device does check in with the Prey Project servers every time it boots up or connects to a network. Once it does, it checks for its status and will run any commands you have set up for it to run.
The next screen shot is where the professional version shines. There are a few of these that are tough to stop and tough to detect.
I am really looking forward to never having to use this program, but the piece of mind it gives me is pretty good. Having my laptop stolen from my truck was not a very good experience for any of my family. A lot of my business material was on it (backed up) and I had to change the passwords on ALL of my online accounts. I am hoping with this program, I can at least force whoever steals my laptop to reformat and re-install Windows and I can avoid the rush of changing passwords within 24 hours.
I have installed the free version of this program on both of my laptops. I use an iPhone so I don’t have to install this on that device. Hopefully I will never have to use this program, but if I do, I’ll be sure to do a write up on how well it worked. Maybe I will try it when I get ready to retire the older laptop… mmmmm…
I have a few more tricks that i will share with you in the next post.
Willis “Bill” ImesOwner/Technician