Theft-prevention for your Mac

Last year, I wrote about some folks in San Antonio who lost a couple of iMacs to theft. The SAPD reports that crime went up last year from 2006, and I have heard, secondhand, from a crime-statistician that there has been a marked increase again in 2008.
It goes without saying that portable computers are even more vulnerable than desktops, and it’s inconvenient to use on them the security cables I mentioned in the previous post.

So here are a few software-plus-service packages that people should know about. One of them you may already be using:

Back to My Mac

Since Leopard came out, the MobileMe-né-.Mac service has offered a feature called Back to My Mac. I’m not going to dwell on this, because it is one of the least reliable things Apple has ever produced, but it is worth mentioning that it did help one user reclaim her stolen MacBook.

Paid services: MacPhoneHome and Undercover

These are really cool services, and quite inexpensive. I really like that they involve one-time fees, with no monitoring charges. The first one, MacPhoneHome, has been around for awhile, along with its cousin PCPhoneHome. They purport success, and the $30 tag is great. But my main man Erick recently uncovered Undercover, which has a phenomenal feature set, and is clearly designed by Mac lovers. I’m sure both of these services would have roughly the same chance of recovering your property — may you never have to find out — but Undercover just feels like a better product.

Dynamic DNS

I also won’t spend much time here either, ‘cos it would have to get technical. Quick definition: Dynamic DNS uses a free service such as dyndns.com to translate an IP address — be it your home or office internet’s ever-changing IP, or whichever connection your laptop happens to be using a the moment — into a hostname, e.g. johnqmacbook.dyndns.org. So I have a program called DNSUpdate continually reporting my MacBook Pro’s external IP address to DynDNS. It’s a system-level process that starts at bootup, so the hope is that, if someone swiped my laptop and fired it up, it would reports its address, and just maybe Johnny Law could work with the relevant internet service provider to track down that last-known location. It’s a long shot, but the other services discussed here partially bet on the same probability.

Author: jjmarcus

Mac Whisperer, Cloud Integrator, Gadget Wrangler, Content Beautifier

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