That One ’08, remixed: http://tinyurl.com/425bvg
Researchers at the University of Washington and University of California, San Diego have released a free and open source software called Adeona. It tracks your stolen or lost laptop without relying on proprietary or centralized software or databases. And unlike commercial services, it preserves the privacy of the user- it uses cryptography mechanisms so that only the user has access to the laptop location information.
Adeona is designed to use the Open Source OpenDHT distributed storage service to store location updates sent by a small software client installed on an owner’s laptop. The client continually monitors the current location of the laptop, gathering information (such as IP addresses and local network topology) that can be used to identify its current location. The client then uses strong cryptographic mechanisms to not only encrypt the location data, but also ensure that the ciphertexts stored within OpenDHT are anonymous and unlinkable. At the same time, it is easy for an owner to retrieve location information.
It is licensed under GPLv2, and is available for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Like Lojack for cars, simply the prevalence of such software can serve as a deterrent for casual theft. A determined thief can replace the operating system before using (or selling) it, but a lot of consumer electronics theft is casual and opportunistic.
There is something wrong with this report, though I’m not sure what it is:
Passenger laptop computers are now being investigated as a possible cause of the Qantas mid-air emergency off Western Australia on Tuesday.
The Airbus A330-300, with 303 passengers and a crew of 10, experienced what the airline described as a “sudden change in altitude” north of its destination on Tuesday.
The mid-air incident resulted in injuries to 74 people, with 51 of them treated by three hospitals in Perth for fractures, lacerations and suspected spinal injuries when the flight bound from Singapore to Perth had a dramatic drop in altitude that hurled passengers around the cabin.
In July, a passenger clicking on a wireless mouse mid-flight was blamed for causing a Qantas jet to be thrown off course, according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s monthly report.
Can modern airplane electronics be so dramatically affected by wireless mice and laptops? If so, the airline industry is doomed- forget about taking off your shoes and all your 3oz liquid bottles in little ziploc baggies. The real threat is in every business traveler’s carry-on luggage.
Of course, there is something wrong here. I am not quite sure what- but either the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau is looking for an easy scapegoat or there is a gaping security hole in our airlines that should be bigger news. I’m guessing it’s the former.
This has nothing to do with “I want to use my laptop/DS/phone, so make me happy as the paying customer”, and everything to do with “if an unauthorized wireless mouse can bring down a plane, we need the entire fleet of such badly defective planes grounded and fixed yesterday“.
Seriously. Any system that can’t deal with weak RF interference needs to hit the scrapheap. In any other industry, we’d see the customers suing – Imagine if Ford said using a bluetooth headset in their vehicles violates your warranty… They’d go bankrupt overnight. Only the fact that the aviation industry has slowly boiled the frog, making us expect horrible customer service at unpredictable (but high) prices, allows any of the BS we’ve put up with for the past 20 years (and the shout-and-taze squads aside, the airlines had problems long before 9/11).
UPDATE: A little more info from the FCC. Still doesn’t resolve anything.
UPDATE #2: Turns out it was faulty avionics, not passenger laptops, that caused the dive. No kidding.