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Prey Project

Post image for Understanding Cloud Security and Mobile Platforms on Digital Nibbles Podcast #6

You really should track your digital devices, at least according to Ken Westin who is the founder of GadgetTrak. I actually agree with that. In fact, I have been using some other services (Prey Project and Find my iPhone) to do just that. It does look like what Ken’s company has come up with in their GadgetTrak service goes quite a bit beyond that. And Ken goes into the importance of preserving your gadget (smartphone and laptop) security and privacy in the latest episode of Digital Nibbles.  Appropriately taking place on Pi Day (3.14) – which, also is, coincidentally, Albert Einstein’s birthday, Digital Nibbles #6 covered Mobile Security and the Cloud.


During Ken’s interview with Allyson Klein and Ruv Cohen, they dive deep into some of the security concerns with our modern day gadgets. Some points from this interview:

  • Over the past 2 years, 30% of data breaches have come from compromised laptops
  • Be cautious as to what you download
  • There is a need for resiliency from a security standpoint
  • A huge number of laptops & gadgets are stolen or lost at airports every week (1000s actually)
  • Jailbreaking or rooting your device can make it less secure if you don’t know what you are doing

I recommend checking out Ken’s company (although I haven’t actually tested it out – the premise and technology that they are using does really seem sound and well thought out).

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I’m sure that many of you have heard of the Find My iPhone service for MobileMe that helps you locate missing iPhones or iPads. Or the equivalent on Windows Mobile phones called My Phone. And I’m sure you know about LoJack that helps you locate stolen cars. LoJack also offers a service for computers as well, for a price. There are other offerings that help you locate lost or stolen laptops out there too, but most of them are expensive. For me, it’s a bit easier to justify spending a little bit on a service like MobileMe (which does a lot more than just the “Find My iPhone” service and is good for multiple devices), and it is a lot easier to lose or have a phone stolen. Laptops are a little trickier in that they are bigger and don’t usually have built-in GPS’s or location services.

But today I came across (actually using StumbleUpon) an Open Source project called “Prey” which has taken the difficulty of setting up and configuring a behind-the-scenes service that lets you locate you lost or stolen laptop. The service is FREE and works on multiple platforms (Linux, Windows and MacOS).


Some of the highlights of the features are:

  • Geo-location Aware – the Prey developers have created a way to triangulate the location of your stolen or lost laptop (assuming it’s on, of course, and connected to the internet) based on publically indexed WiFi hotspots.
  • Wifi Autoconnect – this innovative feature detects if your laptop is connected to an active network connection and if it isn’t, it will try to connect to a nearby open WiFi access point.
  • Lightweight – the developers coded the Prey application in bash which, according to their site, means that it has virtually no dependencies.
  • Modular – Prey has a variety of different functions or modules. Read on to find out some of the different items that can be configured.
  • Strong Reporting – you can configure the types of reports you get from your laptop like running programs, recently modified files, active connections, screenshots of the active desktop, and even a webcam capture.
  • Alerting – you can configure Prey to pop up messages on your laptops screen, change your desktop picture (Mac/Linux), send out an alarm sound or speak an alert.
  • Auto Updating – once you install Prey, you can forget about it. It will update itself (if you want it to) to the latest version automatically.

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