Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Just In Time For School: Free Adeona Service Tracks Stolen Laptops

Date:
September 30, 2008
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
Researchers have created the first free laptop theft-protection tool. The open-source software not only provides a virtual watchdog on your precious machine -- reporting the laptop's location when it connects to the Internet -- but does so without letting anybody but you monitor your whereabouts.

As college students head back to school with gleaming new laptops, some will, unfortunately, see the last of their machine in a library, cafeteria or dorm room. And it's not just college campuses that are hot spots for computer theft, or just students who are the targets. Newspapers recently reported that airports in the United States record hundreds of thousands of laptop thefts annually. Such thefts are not only expensive, they also often mean losing sensitive data.

Researchers at the University of Washington and at the University of California, San Diego have created a new laptop theft-protection tool. The software not only provides a virtual watchdog on your precious machine -- reporting the laptop's location when it connects to the Internet -- but does so without letting anybody but you monitor your whereabouts.

The tool is named Adeona, after the Roman goddess of safe returns, and is posted at http://adeona.cs.washington.edu/. It works by using the Internet as a homing beacon. Once Adeona is installed, the machine will occasionally send its Internet protocol address and related information to OpenDHT, a free online storage network. This information can be used to establish the computer's general location.

On a Macintosh computer, Adeona also uses the computer's internal camera to take a photo that it sends to the same server.

Adeona was initially released for free under an open source license in June, and further work will be presented at the ToorCon computer security conference in San Diego Sept. 28. The authors are Thomas Ristenpart, a doctoral student at UC San Diego, who was a UW visiting student in summer 2007; Gabriel Maganis, who recently received his UW undergraduate degree in computer engineering; Tadayoshi Kohno, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering; and Arvind Krishnamurthy, a UW research assistant professor of computer science and engineering.

Unlike commercial systems, in which users surrender their location information to a company, Adeona scrambles the information so it must be deciphered using a password known only by the person who set up the account. If the laptop is stolen, only the original owner can access the location data (and, for Macintosh users, a photo). The owner can then bring this information to the police to aid in tracking down the stolen machine. Even if the free OpenDHT storage network was hacked, the information would remain private.

"Adeona is free and easy to install, so anyone who owns a laptop, or even a small company, can use it to track their assets," Maganis said. "We're really hoping laptop users all over the world will install it on their machines."

The tool resulted from an experiment in privacy protection that began two years ago.

"We wanted to build a tool that allows you to track the location of your laptop but at the same time doesn't allow someone else to track you," Kohno said. "Typically when you create a forensics trail, you leave breadcrumbs that you can see, but so can everyone else. We've created a private forensics trail where only you can see those breadcrumbs."

More broadly, the research investigates ways to maintain privacy in a world where geographic tracking is becoming increasingly common.

"Platforms such as the iPhone enable development of more and more software programs that use geographic information in fun and useful ways. Many of these applications could benefit from mechanisms for preserving user location privacy," Ristenpart said.

Since Adeona's public release, more than 50,000 people have downloaded the software under the open source license. The current version works on desktop and laptop machines running Windows, Macintosh or Linux. Researchers say they have already received numerous requests for an iPhone version.

"People like it because it's open source," Maganis said. "That's what we're hearing."

Companies offer features that might justify paying a fee, but they too can learn from Adeona to ensure clients' privacy, Maganis said. "Companies can adapt our techniques to provide high levels of privacy for their own services."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "Just In Time For School: Free Adeona Service Tracks Stolen Laptops." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080925165507.htm>.
University of Washington. (2008, September 30). Just In Time For School: Free Adeona Service Tracks Stolen Laptops. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080925165507.htm
University of Washington. "Just In Time For School: Free Adeona Service Tracks Stolen Laptops." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080925165507.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Heartbleed Hack Leads To Arrest

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A 19-year-old computer science student has been arrested in relation to a data breach of 900 social insurance numbers from Canada's revenue agency. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yahoo's Ousted COO Gets $58M Severance Package

Yahoo's Ousted COO Gets $58M Severance Package

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) According to SEC filings, Yahoo gave ousted COO Henrique de Castro a $58 million severance package. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins