Theft Detection for Mac Laptops

Are you ever scared that your fancy MacBook might get stolen? I am. I don’t actually own mine, so at least I wouldn’t have to front the cost of a new one if it got stolen. The worst part is really the data loss though.

There is a new theft detection software called Undercover which actually looks very nice. Basically you install it on your system and forget about. It does it’s own thing in the background and won’t bother you. If your laptop ever gets stolen, you file a report with Undercover online to declare that it has been stolen. The next time a user goes online using your laptop, Undercover will track the network information, take screenshots and even use the built-in iSight to take pictures of the thief.

If your Mac has a built-in or external iSight, Undercover will transmit pictures of the thief and his surroundings every 6 minutes, making it even easier to identify the current user. It’s like having a private detective working for you.

Undercover will then work with law enforcement agencies and ISPs to recover the laptop.

If the first method is unsuccessful, Undercover will basically render the laptop unusable, with a full-screen message reporting that the laptop has been stolen.

One of the first things that I wondered about was how a theif would log into your account (provided you’ve actaully enabled a firmware password and turned off auto-login). Their answer to this was actually quite surprising:

What if the thief can’t login into an account? Will Undercover still phone home?
Even when no one is logged in, Undercover will still phone home because it’s a root process that’s always active. However, we do recommend to create a dummy account that will enable the thief to play around on your Mac. This account should have a blank password and no admin privileges.

I’d really like to try this software out. It sounds really cool and I’m curious to know how well it actually works. Unfortunately…I think you’d actually have to get your laptop stolen to find that out.

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