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Tracking a stolen laptop?

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February 15, 2010 3:57:26 AM

I had my laptop stolen a while back and I'm about to buy another one. But it got me thinking, is there a way to track a stolen laptop (or desktop)? I presume Microsoft could track it via the 25 digit product key (if the OS was still untouched) but is there a unique key imbedded in all motherboards? I know mobile phones have one so why not motherboards.

More about : tracking stolen laptop

a b V Motherboard
February 15, 2010 5:35:06 AM

No. Microsoft does not provide a tracking service to the public. There is no way.
February 15, 2010 6:39:11 AM

badge said:
No. Microsoft does not provide a tracking service to the public. There is no way.

I know Microsoft does not provide a tracking service to the public, I said they could track it.

It's the possibility of a motherboard key that really interests me.
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a b V Motherboard
February 15, 2010 6:43:34 AM

Quote:
I know Microsoft does not provide a tracking service to the public


Great, your question is answered and the issue of finding your notebook through any kind of electronic tracking device is closed. Check with your local police department if you have the MB serial number, etc. File a report first.
February 15, 2010 9:32:09 AM

Thanks for answering badge, much appreciated. But you have made no mention of my question asking if there is the possibility of a unique key on motherboards.
a b V Motherboard
February 15, 2010 10:09:48 AM

BarcodeBob said:
Thanks for answering badge, much appreciated. But you have made no mention of my question asking if there is the possibility of a unique key on motherboards.


It would be possible in theory to track it down by network device ID through a service provider when it went on-line, but in practice you can't get that info. I've seen a case where the person was able to track it down to the IP of a private cable modem and STILL couldn't find out who owned the modem.

The goverment on the other hand tracks people in this fashion all the time.
a b V Motherboard
February 15, 2010 4:57:48 PM

A recent Crucial, Inc. Enewsletter arrived with a quote from you on the front page. How cool is that!
a b V Motherboard
February 15, 2010 6:34:40 PM

badge said:
A recent Crucial, Inc. Enewsletter arrived with a quote from you on the front page. How cool is that!


Really? It must be in regards to some of its D9KPT-equipped modules, which don't have heat spreaders. A few of its competitors use the same chips with heat spreaders, and it turns out that they work better without them. Sinkless FTW!
February 15, 2010 6:47:40 PM

Crashman said:
It would be possible in theory to track it down by network device ID through a service provider when it went on-line, but in practice you can't get that info. I've seen a case where the person was able to track it down to the IP of a private cable modem and STILL couldn't find out who owned the modem.

The goverment on the other hand tracks people in this fashion all the time.

Thanks Crashman, that's exactly what I wanted to hear so won't waste my time continuing with this. Looks like I better permanently chain the laptop to my wrist :D 
a b V Motherboard
February 15, 2010 6:54:10 PM

Crashman said:
Really? It must be in regards to some of its D9KPT-equipped modules, which don't have heat spreaders. A few of its competitors use the same chips with heat spreaders, and it turns out that they work better without them. Sinkless FTW!


The quote on front page was in regards to your testing Crucial's 1333Mhz. DDR3 and making a statement pertaining to having excellent results their product. Unfortunately, I deleted the Enewsletter, but it appeared in my mailbox under my Crucial newsletter subscription.
February 15, 2010 7:03:59 PM

The best way..


Is to put in invisible marker your ZIP code inside a panel on the laptop and on the bottom, and remove the hard disk and put it in under there..


record the serial number of the hard disk and the machine.

put a noticable mark on the hard disk - ie a black dot on the hard disk somewhere - if the police get it back in a raid or what ever they can prove its been stolen and track it back to the origional owner.

mark the powersupply with this invisible pen too..

I would also lock the bios with password.

Lock Windows with a password and make it as difficult to crack open the pc for use..


but as for tracking laptops, it cant be done.
a c 207 V Motherboard
a b D Laptop
February 15, 2010 7:04:38 PM

Tracking a stolen laptop is most certainly possible, boerdering on 'routine" if properly equipped. "Lojack for laptops" is a BIOS feature provided by:

* Acer
* ASUS
* Dell
* Fujitsu
* GammaTech
* Gateway
* GD Itronix
* Getac
* HP
* Lenovo
* Motion
* Panasonic
* Toshiba

If you bought from one from those vendors, check your model number here:

http://www.absolute.com/partners/bios-compatibility

You can also install the software but if you had, you wouldn't be asking the question :) 

http://www.testfreaks.com/blog/review/lojack-for-laptop...
a b V Motherboard
February 15, 2010 7:06:30 PM

Quote:
if the police get it back in a raid or what ever they can prove its been stolen and track it back to the origional owner.


This is the logical way recovery of stolen property works. Lo jack for your computer is here? How reliable is this is my question.
a b V Motherboard
February 15, 2010 7:27:30 PM

Quote:
Tracking a stolen laptop is most certainly possible, boerdering on 'routine" if properly equipped.


The local police here take up to two hours to respond to a vandalism or suspicious vehicle reported. One to two hours are routine response times. Our local polie department has three hundred peace officers on payroll. So, having law enforcement involved is an intereting aspect as well as how much it will cost. It's not like a new laptop is not affordable. It's not like repacinga new car.
a b V Motherboard
February 15, 2010 7:45:27 PM

Hellboy said:
The best way..


Is to put in invisible marker your ZIP code inside a panel on the laptop and on the bottom, and remove the hard disk and put it in under there..


record the serial number of the hard disk and the machine.

put a noticable mark on the hard disk - ie a black dot on the hard disk somewhere - if the police get it back in a raid or what ever they can prove its been stolen and track it back to the origional owner.

mark the powersupply with this invisible pen too..

I would also lock the bios with password.

Lock Windows with a password and make it as difficult to crack open the pc for use..


but as for tracking laptops, it cant be done.


Actually it's routinely done to track kiddie porn. But while the police will actually go through the effort of contacting the ISP and locating the modem when it comes to kiddie porn, they simply don't care about stolen personal property.
February 15, 2010 9:06:05 PM

Crashman said:
Actually it's routinely done to track kiddie porn. But while the police will actually go through the effort of contacting the ISP and locating the modem when it comes to kiddie porn, they simply don't care about stolen personal property.



every time someone goes on the internet you are given a unique number ( and ip address ) which belongs to and isp which has been given in a set range. go to speedtest.net and youll see what isp your on.

within that isp is a record of every website you go to and every file you download and what images you look at by listing urls.


there was a case of people paying for kiddy stuff on a credit card which linked them to an address. loads of perverts got caught on this.


every email is also recorded in the uk and US I assume as well as phone calls, mobile calls and faxes - the US had Echelon and its simular to the UK system which also helps catch terrorist activity. - it picks up on certain words which alert authorities to the activities.... its just wether or not someone does anything with the information, but its recorded non the less.

The data storage on this is huge - terabytes and terabytes with huge processing power.

also were are photographed in the uk more than people can imagine - every road almost has cameras and in London you are photographed no less than 1000 times if you travel from one side to the other.

as a laptop can be transfered to separate locations and different access points - the only thing that is unique when connecting to the internet is the mac code of the network card - wether it be wireless or hard wired - each one has a unique address called a MAC address. This also releates to a mac address on a adsl line. Each customers Mac address for broadband on a telephone system is unique as well as a separate one in the pc. The MAC address is joined to the telephone number it is on.

The ISP can tell you when you came on line, what you downloaded, what pc it was on - what websites you looked at, what you did and for how long.

Adobe activate their software on the serial number of a hard disk.. For example there is only on seagate st8220 with a serial number of wefrrt9945449. If you install a pirate copy or the same software twice Adobe know by the unique hard disks serial number, model and manufacturer by a software program built in to its installer. If its a pirate copy Adobe record it.

Im know Windows holds this information too in a secret log and there are parts of Windows which we cant reach without forensic tools which the police and microsoft have privy to.
February 15, 2010 9:11:51 PM

Crashman said:
Actually it's routinely done to track kiddie porn. But while the police will actually go through the effort of contacting the ISP and locating the modem when it comes to kiddie porn, they simply don't care about stolen personal property.



Oh while your at it Crashman,,, can i have the points i really deserve which ups my ranking :)  also i was 2 years old in 1970 :) 
a b V Motherboard
February 15, 2010 10:50:43 PM

BarcodeBob said:
I had my laptop stolen a while back and I'm about to buy another one. But it got me thinking, is there a way to track a stolen laptop (or desktop)? I presume Microsoft could track it via the 25 digit product key (if the OS was still untouched) but is there a unique key imbedded in all motherboards? I know mobile phones have one so why not motherboards.


Keep a secured back-up of your HDD and don't worry about the computer.
February 15, 2010 11:12:01 PM

knotknut said:
Keep a secured back-up of your HDD and don't worry about the computer.

I do that but I'm still pissed off when some dipshit steals my laptop/PC. Mobile phones can be rendered useless by your provider if they are stolen so I don't see why the same can't be done for laptops/PCs. I realize it's not something that could be done today, but it could be done.
a b V Motherboard
February 15, 2010 11:16:44 PM

Quote:
I realize it's not something that could be done today, but it could be done.


How would you render the laptop useless? The unit can be disassembled and used for parts for starters.

EDIT I would add if the Windows OS was password protected, the average thief would not be able to access the installation. I'm just thinking about the reason and cost for a laptop today that cost maybe $600. I'm just asking really...why bother? Unless it cost like less than 10% of the notebook itself and that would include recovery cost. Not just locating the system.
February 16, 2010 12:00:22 AM

badge said:

How would you render the laptop useless? The unit can be disassembled and used for parts for starters.

EDIT I would add if the Windows OS was password protected, the average thief would not be able to access the installation. I'm just thinking about the reason and cost for a laptop today that cost maybe $600. I'm just asking really...why bother? Unless it cost like less than 10% of the notebook itself and that would include recovery cost. Not just locating the system.

I suppose I should not have used the statement "rendered useless". Yes a mobile phone could be rendered useless but a laptop/pc could be made nearly unusable. I say "nearly unusable" because the very technical or hackers can bypass most things.

My idea was that motherboards have a unique key. This unique key would be accesable to your ip. When a laptop/pc is stolen the key is sent to all ip's who block that laptop/pc. Of course this would mean more software and work for the IP's and I don't think it would ever get off the ground. But my point is that it is possible but maybe not practical.
a b V Motherboard
February 16, 2010 12:46:07 AM

Quote:
My idea was that motherboards have a unique key. This unique key would be accesable to your ip. When a laptop/pc is stolen the key is sent to all ip's who block that laptop/pc.

Motherboards have a unique serial number. having a key is something I am not aware of. If your notebook was 'locked' to you IP, you cold not use it in public places like a restaurant, college classroom or court house for example which provided Internet connectivity for customers.
February 16, 2010 1:12:50 AM

badge said:

Motherboards have a unique serial number. having a key is something I am not aware of. If your notebook was 'locked' to you IP, you cold not use it in public places like a restaurant, college classroom or court house for example which provided Internet connectivity for customers.

At last, that's what I wanted to know in the first place. So motherboards do have a unique serial number, key, whatever you want to call it. And yes I realize that you would be locked to your IP but what if all IP's had a list of all motherboard serial numbers? And yes I know that is one hell of a huge list.

But I'm not saying this is how it will work, I'm just floating an idea.
a b V Motherboard
February 16, 2010 1:38:11 AM

I think the lo jack idea may have merit. How effective would the technology be in the actual recovery. Police would be involved and most local police departments don't have time to put into misdeameanor arrests or knocking on doors to recover a notebook. Then there is the cost to have this technology available on your notebook. It's likely the person who swiped the notebook can not even access the OS. Check the Windows OS sections for the number of people who ask for help daily due to not remembering their password.
February 16, 2010 2:07:43 AM

badge said:
I think the lo jack idea may have merit. How effective would the technology be in the actual recovery. Police would be involved and most local police departments don't have time to put into misdeameanor arrests or knocking on doors to recover a notebook. Then there is the cost to have this technology available on your notebook. It's likely the person who swiped the notebook can not even access the OS. Check the Windows OS sections for the number of people who ask for help daily due to not remembering their password.

I agree with everything you say. I'm just floating an idea which i realize would be extremely costly to setup, a huge burden to maintain and would probably never pay for itself (gee that sounds like a typical government project).

But I've had all my questions answered. Thanks for the chat badge.
a b V Motherboard
February 16, 2010 2:13:43 AM

Yeah, thanks. Turned out to be an interesting topic of discussion, one which I learned quite a lot in regards to lo jack type tracking available for computers. Now if I can just get the local police to find the guy who appeared on my security cameras stealing the copper pipe from my crawl space at the office I'll be just giddy with all this. 8)
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