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How to find a stolen laptop, tablet or phone with the help of applications?

9 April 2015, by — admin ()

Nowadays, we are hearing more and more news of how people are getting back their lost or stolen devices thanks to various software applications capable of disclosing identities and geographical location of thieves.

notebook-thief

And it’s not just the iPhones that we’re talking about. The same happens to numerous Android and other OS devices, as owners of tablets and laptops are successfully getting them back.

Below is a brief overview of “antitheft” functions of different platforms and third-party software.

Apple

Apple is the leading expert on integrating anti-theft function into their OS. iCloud services allow the owner to log in with his Apple ID from any other computer and not only to locate the lost device, but also to make its alarm go off or even to remotely disable it.

Apple has developed a remote-kill feature called «Activation Lock», which effectively turns a stolen device into useless hi-tech brick no one can turn on and use.

activation-lock

For the time being hackers haven’t succeeded with attempts to break this code.

Additionally, with relevant settings enabled, iCloud synchronizes all photos that have been taken between all devices activated within the user’s Apple ID. This helped to identify a lot of phone thieves.

All of the above applies not only to both iPhones and iPads, but to majority of other Apple devices including MacBook Air laptops.

Android

Android operating system has its own system for finding lost devices. It is an application known as “Android Device Manager”. It allows the owner to log into the device manager page using his or her Google account and select one of the linked devices. Then it is possible to connect to it and see its location in real time and then to either make it ring at full volume, lock it, or erase information on it.

adm

The key difference between Android and Apple is that the former doesn’t have a stolen phone lockout feature. It means that if the thief is quick enough to replace firmware of the device, the task of locating it will be a lot more complicated. However, replacing firmware is not something that can be easily done on any phone model.

It’s should be noted that default Google Maps settings save the location history of all Android devices. This data can be found if you use your Google account to log into this page.

There’s a more advanced and, what’s important, free application called Android Lost. Its remote control functionality is close to that of the phone itself. For example, this app can redirect calls and text messages from the lost device to another mobile phone, take camera snaps or even speak out loudly “I’m lost, please pick me up and give me back to my owner!”
To make things better, with the help of Google Play online service this app can be installed even after the phone has been lost.

Taking a look at paid options, it’s worth considering an application called Avast Anti-Theft. Apart from all of the above features, it is capable of remotely intercepting the sound that is entering the phone’s microphone, it can display a message on the locked screen (such as a suggestion to give the phone back to its owner for a fee), and even perform certain actions when the phone leaves a preset geographic location.

Computers and laptops

Thus, if things aren’t looking too bad if you’ve lost an Apple or Android device, the situation with Windows or Linux laptops is quite the opposite. These operating systems don’t have any anti-theft applications; third-party programs are almost non-existent. To make things worse, the devices themselves usually don’t have any tracking tools, such as GPS location.

You will also be hard-pressed to find a hardware solution aimed at preventing OS reinstallation on laptops (something even a schoolboy can do nowadays). Once, Intel has attempted to introduce a solution to this problem, but it didn’t make much of a difference.

Going through the list of third-party commercial applications, only Prey for Windows, Mac OS X, Ubuntu, Linux, Android and iOS is really worth any attention.

prey

Prey’s free plan will allow you to connect up to three devices to a single account. Sure, there’s no guarantee that a thief would be dumb enough not to reinstall the OS on a stolen laptop. However, human stupidity shouldn’t be underestimated: according to Prey developers’blog the company’s clients get their devices back quite often.

Some interesting facts about anti-theft applications:

  • Becky Brinklow, a nurse living in the UK, had her iPhone stolen by two guys. Next day she logs into her iCloud to find snapshots of thieves posing in their underwear. The evidence has been given to police.
  • A German student had his phone stolen on the island of Ibiza. This encouraged him to start a blog called “Life of a stranger who stole my phone.”This thief lives in Dubai and doesn’t even suspect he has become an Internet celebrity.
  • Three youngsters from Winnipeg, Canada robbed a 30 year old woman taking her iPhone. A selfie, an iCloud synchronization, and Find My iPhone geolocation, –all that was enough for the police to put all three criminals behind bars.
  • An American man went to the store leaving his kid in the car. After he was done shopping he discovered his car had been stolen. Thankfully, a smartphone that was in the glove compartment came to the rescue.
  • A few hapless criminals robbed an apartment of an Apple’s service center employee. Among the things stolen was an Apple laptop with Back to My Mac application installed. The criminals have been arrested and are now accused of robbery and illicit possession of 1.5 kilos of marijuana.
  • Police has arrested a man on suspicion of stealing a MacBook. The arrest was based on snaps on built-in camera used by the laptop’s anti-theft application.

 

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