Compliance Management, Critical Infrastructure Security, Privacy

Free software unveiled to help track lost laptops

College researchers have developed free, open-source software that can track the location of a lost or stolen laptop without the need for a third-party vendor.

The driving force behind developing “Adeona” was to address privacy issues often coupled with device trackers, Gabriel Maganis, one of the software developers and a research engineer at the University of Washington in Seattle, told on Monday. 

“People want to be able to track and recover their lost or stolen laptops but they also care about their privacy,” he said. “Our goal was to create a system that can address both goals.”

Adeona is not the only laptop tracking software available, but it is considered to be the first that is open source and doesn't need to involve a third party.

The software is designed to use the Open Source OpenDHT distributed storage service and stores location updates sent by a small software client installed on an owner's laptop. It then monitors the current location of the laptop and uses encrypting mechanisms that not only protect the location data, but ensures any information stored is anonymous and unlinkable.

“The most important development from Adeona is its ability to provide strong guarantees of privacy while maintaining the ability to efficiently track a missing device,” said Maganis. “This development allows Adeona to be readily usable by anyone without having to rely on a commercial third-party service.”

Because it is open source, users will be able to configure the software to fit their needs, Craig Van Slyke, associate professor at Saint Louis University in Missouri and open-source expert, told

“The user can go in and make changes without worrying about proprietary locks common on vendor software,” he said. “With so many people looking at the source code, the bugs can be fixed quickly.”

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