21 February 2018
Peter Roberts

Peter's lo-fi ramblings

Peter Roberts - UCL

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How to make stolen laptops rescue themselves

13 May 2008  |  2160 views  |  0

Following on from my post yesterday about miscreants being photographed by the laptop they had stolen, I had an email this morning from Bart Frederix at Swift who brought Undercover to my attention. This claims you can recover your stolen machine anywhere in the universe. Ahem. Universe?

If reported as stolen it basically phones home and transmits network details, screenshots (so you can attempt to work out who the baddies are and what they're doing) and for good measure sends snaphots from the built in camera every six minutes. Presumably it disables the little camera-on LED while it's snapping away too.

If all this fails to get it rescued, after a time it reverts to plan B and simulates a hardware failure forcing the thief to either flog it or get it repaired - at which point the idea is it gets discovered. Hey - why not have a plan C - disable the cooling fan and make it overheat and singe the baddies fingers? 

And of course if you set a firmware password it'll stop the disk being reformatted by the baddies so they can't reformat it. 

Sounds rather useful - at least for Mac owners anyway. There's some interesting stuff here too on The Register from last year in a similar vein.

As for me - well - I take the obvious precautions:

  1. set a firmware (or BIOS) password
  2. disable "auto login" so if the machine is rebooted you need a password to get in
  3. don't take it to the pub
  4. don't carry it in an obvious laptop bag

So - I wonder what measures community folk out there take to protect their laptops? Do tell! 


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job title Moodle support
location London
member since 2008
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I was the technical lead on the Finextra family of web sites from 1999 to 2009. I'm at UCL these days supporting Moodle.

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