Using technology to thwart smart phone and laptop thieves

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I was at a bagel shop with some friends the other day and we noticed a man had left his watch, wallet and cell phone at another table. Once it was clear the man was not coming back, we took his cell phone and went through the memory to find his most frequently called numbers to find out how to reach him. We eventually got word to his wife and she came to my home to pick up her husband’s belongings later that day.

The man was lucky that my friends and I who found his stuff weren’t going to steal anything. But not everyone is so lucky. I read in PC World about a Bentley college student who had his MacBook Air stolen. Fortunately, this college student had a software program on his computer called BackBlaze.com that provides security for his computer and let him track what’s was going on with the device. BackBlaze costs $5 per month.

With the help of BackBlaze, the student was able to track down the thief. The criminal turned out to be a fellow student! The computer was returned and the thief then posted an apology on Facebook…but did not go to jail, so I say he got off light.

In addition to BackBlaze, there are free options that do the same thing for all kinds of mobile devices:

  • MyLookout.com — Freemium service for smart phones that run Android, Blackberry or Windows.
  • PreyProject.com — Freemium service for Macs, PCs and smartphones.
  • Find My iPhone — Free service for the iPhone 4, the iPad or a fourth generation iPod touch.
  • Where’s My Droid — Free service for Android smart phone users.
  • Plan B — Free service for Android smart phone users. This is the only that can be remotely installed on your phone after you’ve lost it.

We pay a lot of money for our devices, but it’s the sensitive stuff on them that makes them even more valuable.



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