Computer Thefts: A Serious Problem In Need Of A Solution

Today’s selection is…

This piece on the lifehacker site about the author was able to find his stolen laptop in no time using a piece of software called Prey. A few years ago I interviewed the founder of a Israeli-US company named Sticknfind and Jimmy Buchheim, the interviewee, was so positive about his product I had bought into it. Checking the sticknfind website a wee bit more than 2 years later, I realise the company must have gone bust towards the end of 2013, barely a few months later. And yet, computer theft is a real problem.

I know it because not more that 3 months later everything was stolen from me: my brand new Nikon D600, my iPad and iPhone and although all these items can be declared in websites and using iCloud etc. I never was able to find anything. Prey, as described by Doug Van Spronsen, is a piece of software which spied on the person responsible for your computer theft. It takes pictures and sends you emails and warns you about the position of the thief etc. Doug was able to recover his computer thanks to Prey and that’s because his thief wasn’t too clever. Professionals don’t do it that way. They won’t bother stealing your data, they will go straight for a rebooting of the laptop or even reprogramming its mac address or God know what. After all, I’m not a thief but I can tell you that “find my iPhones” or software like Prey will only work if your thief is a 17-year-old nincompoop or he hasn’t figured out how to turn your devices in stealth mode to avoid theft locators.

Computer thefts : a problem in need of a solution

Last but not least, none of these systems work when your bag is moved before the computer is touched. That was the promise of Sticknfind but looking at the Amazon comments they go, they didn’t quite deliver. So here you go, this is a real problem in need for a solution. The device has to be small and invisible (Sticknfind was too bulky), it has to work with no limitations and all kinds of phones (this wasn’t the case) and it should be working when the bag is moved/removed (hence a siren should be triggered to force the thief to drop the bag), the on/off switch for the alarm should be simple and straightforward, and the mechanism for finding the computer/phone/tablet … should be working whatever the thief tried to do to your device in terms of programming/reprogramming. As a result, they should never be able to put your device in stealth mode. This probably means that software has to be ruled out. GPS Tracking dots are therefore, probably, the best possible solution for this, but they tend to be very bulky and expensive.

Whoever finds the solutions that connects all these dots and solves all these problems for the benefit of users will probably be a billionaire and will also be doing a favour to all these millions of people with stolen digital property.