Whenever I bring my laptop to college, I rarely let it out of my sight. I can’t risk it getting stolen – my life is literally on the thing. I am sure many people are the same way. We all worry about ‘what if my laptop gets stolen’. Not only will it be a grave financial loss, but the personal information stored on the laptop is high in value just in its self.
For people like me, there are commercial software out there in the market that help you track your laptop shall it ever get stolen, i.e. Lojack For Laptops . The only problem is, these services are expensive. Well now there is a free alternative: Adeona.
Adeona is an open-source software that allows you to track your laptop if it ever gets stolen. It works for Linux, Mac OSX and Windows (XP/Vista).
Adeona was originally developed by students and faculty at the University of Washington. Now the project has been expanded to include people from the University of California San Diego and the University of California Davis. Adeona has been around for a good part of 2008 but it seems many people still don’t know about it. Hopefully this post can help change things a little.
How Adeona works is that you install a small client onto your computer. That client constantly gathers data about the location of your laptop, encrypts it securely, sends it anonymously to various servers located on the internet. Data gathered include but is not limited to IP address and near by routers – all useful tools to help determine the location of your laptop. When you install Adeona, you set a password and have a personal ‘credential file’ created for you. This ensures that only you, or someone you designate, has the power to track your laptop. When trying to retrieve the location of your laptop, you must have that credential file with you and the correct password. As mentioned above, Adeona is open-source so security and privacy is pretty much ensured.
One thing to note is that when you install Adeona, be sure to allow all parts of Adeona access through your firewall otherwise it will not work.
Now Adeona is not the perfect laptop retrieval tool – it depends on the laptop being connected to the internet and it will not survive a reformat. You can also easily remove Adeona via Add/Remove programs. However, as their website states, Adeona is to help protect you from that amature theif who took advantage of an opportunity to snag your laptop. Expert thieves will have methods to get around any laptop retrieval tool.
This is some information directly off Adeona’s website:
Adeona is the first Open Source system for tracking the location of your lost or stolen laptop that does not rely on a proprietary, central service. This means that you can install Adeona on your laptop and go — there’s no need to rely on a single third party. What’s more, Adeona addresses a critical privacy goal different from existing commercial offerings. It is privacy-preserving. This means that no one besides the owner (or an agent of the owner’s choosing) can use Adeona to track a laptop. Unlike other systems, users of Adeona can rest assured that no one can abuse the system in order to track where they use their laptop.
Adeona is designed to use the Open Source OpenDHT  distributed storage service to store location updates sent by a small software client installed on an owner’s laptop. The client continually monitors the current location of the laptop, gathering information (such as IP addresses and local network topology) that can be used to identify its current location. The client then uses strong cryptographic mechanisms to not only encrypt the location data, but also ensure that the ciphertexts stored within OpenDHT are anonymous and unlinkable. At the same time, it is easy for an owner to retrieve location information.
Adeona FAQs