Adeona, a freely available, open source laptop theft-protection application for laptops running on Windows, MacOS, or Linux, that provides a virtual watchdog on your machine -- reporting the laptop's location when it connects to the Internet -- without letting anybody knowing your location.
Developed by Thomas Ristenpart, Gabriel Maganis, Tadayoshi Kohno, and Arvind Krishnamurthy, Adeona uses the Internet as a homing beacon. Once the program is installed, the machine intermittently sends its Internet protocol address and related information to OpenDHT, a publicly accessible distributed hash table (DHT) service. This information is then used to establish the computer's general location. (OpenDHT clients do not need to run a DHT node to use the service. Instead, they can issue put/get operations to any DHT node, which processes the operations on their behalf. No credentials or accounts are required to use the service, and available storage is shared across all active clients. This service model of DHT usage greatly simplifies deploying client applications. By using OpenDHT as a highly-available naming and storage service, clients can ignore the complexities of deploying and maintaining a DHT and instead concentrate on developing more sophisticated distributed applications.)
Unlike systems that require users passing on 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. The owner can then bring this information to the police to aid in tracking down the stolen machine.
"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," says Kohno. "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."