The Digital Campfire: How to make your laptop thief-proof


The Digital Campfire is a collection of stories about technology. The protagonists are (fictional) Brown students. The problems they face, however, are very real— a stolen phone, a hacked account, an accidentally deleted folder. How do our intrepid heroes deal with these digital hiccups? Read the column to find out. 

Josh knew something was wrong the moment he walked into his room. His bag was not where he had left it before lunch. Nothing made Josh more mad then someone messing around with his stuff. “David really should stick to his side of the room,” he muttered under his breath, blaming his affable roommate. He reached out to put his bag in its right place. And that was when it struck him — his laptop was missing.

While other students might have panicked in this situation, Josh knew exactly what to do. He hurriedly locked the door, and ran.

Five minutes later, Josh was seated in front of one of the computers at the SciLi. He frantically typed an address into the browser, willing it to go faster. All the while he kept thinking about an article he had read a month ago on BlogDH.

The article had talked about an Open Source Anti-theft software. All this technical jargon normally scared Josh, who admitted he was the least tech inclined, however the article was lucid and simple; most importantly, it promised to secure his laptop and phone against any theft. Here’s a snippet from the article:

The Antidote to Stolen Devices

If you’re reading this article I assume you have a laptop, a smartphone, possibly even a tablet. You’re also probably greatly attached to them and would hate to lose them. Wouldn’t it be nice to know you can always locate your phone/laptop/tablet no matter where it goes? That is, proactively before the actual theft takes place? Simply follow the three steps below (they only take 5-10 minutes).

Step 1: Register for a Prey Control Panel account (choose the free option)

Step 2: Download and install Prey on the device you want. It’s lightweight and open source

Step 3: If your device is ever stolen, Log In and report it missing. You’ll get a report with it’s location shortly

Happy Hunting!

The page finally loaded. Josh’s screen looked something like this:

The Prey Control Panel

The Prey Control Panel

All Josh had to do was simply set his device status to ‘missing.’ And then wait. Patiently.

Thirty minutes later, he received a new ‘report’ with the current location of the laptop. The Prey software had automagically and stealthily used a Wi-Fi connection to establish the laptop’s position and sent it to the control panel.

There’s not much to tell after that, Josh passed on the location to DPS and when the police officers reached the location they found the thief.

Josh got back his laptop in what had to be record time. He then proceeded to hug it to him and mutter endearments, while the DPS officer who had brought it back looked on slightly startled and embarrassed.

After this touching reunion, Josh decided to go to Froyo World to celebrate the return of his beloved laptop. After loading his sumptuous dessert with all the possible candies he could, when Josh went to pay, he realized he couldn’t. It was his wallet. Someone had stolen it.

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