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Thread: Computer theft solved thanks to BOINC

  1. #1
    SETI.Germany Saenger's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Computer theft solved thanks to BOINC

    From our SETI.Germany Blog:
    Computer theft solved thanks to BOINC

    The thief could not have anticipated this when stealing the iMac 27 of our member CR62! The stolen computer was running the BOINC software which does not only support scientific projects but, as it turns out, is also a useful anti theft protection installation.

    The iMac which was stolen from the office around 3am on August 25th was already contacting the BOINC project WUProp the next day to transfer data. The thus copied IP address was given to the police who consequently applied for a search warrant and managed to secure the iMac by September 2th.

    In response to the latest success of the BOINC project Einstein@Home where volunteers donate their unused computer time to search for pulsars and gravitational waves it should be said that:
    Not only was a Pulsar found but now also an iMac!!

    http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Computer...hanks_to_BOINC

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    Administrator Bok's Avatar
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    yes, just read about that on the BOINC lists. Pretty cool!

  3. #3
    SETI.Germany Saenger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bok View Post
    yes, just read about that on the BOINC lists. Pretty cool!
    That was me as well, been a bit on a news trip

  4. #4
    BOINC Gypsy ChertseyAl's Avatar
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    I was considering starting a BOINC project that just reported the host's IP address once an hour and made the address available to the user. No credit, one NCI WU that runs forever.

    However, I didn't really have the time to set up a BOINC project, and doubted that I could easily run the server from home.

    I thought that maybe FreeHAL could piggyback the service on it's work. But at the time, things were changing over there.

    But then I figured that DynaPing was a perfect project to do this. Sadly all attempts to make contact failed Also, not sure I want some people over there involved.

    I ended up looking at Prey http://preyproject.com/ but that's got some insurmountable problems.

    So I'm back at considering this idea. BOINC would be perfect for this. I've got a couple of Linux boxes doing very little, and have some time to play with the idea

    But ... Who would trust *me* ... Would be better if perhaps Free-DC owned it. That's a hint

    Al.

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    Administrator Bok's Avatar
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    If you are serious...I'd host it for you..I've set up a boinc server a few times though not for a least a year..

    Would be directly on linux mind not in a VM. Sounds actually quite intriguing. Have you run it past the boinc developers at all ?

  6. #6
    BOINC Gypsy ChertseyAl's Avatar
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    Thinking aloud for a moment ...

    The thing is of course that the IP information is available anyway (via the host details for, AFAIK, all projects). So the job is sort of half done.

    Except I don't run BOINC projects on a couple of my laptops because I want them to run cool, silent and have decent duration when running on battery.

    So either an NCI project is needed that has no significant CPU load, or the BOINC client itself could report back 'somewhere' that's not tied to the projects themselves. I like the second idea.

    However, a separate project would allow extra functionality and allow older versions of BOINC to work in the same way. Extras could include an IP address change triggering the webcam if present, turning on a keylogger, disabling the machine etc etc. Obviously the owner would have to have some mechanism of registering a new IP address if it changes legitimately (home/work), new lease on ADSL etc. I don't claim that any of these are new ideas, but probably bits I remember from looking at separate lojack software products a while ago

    Perhaps I should hang out over at the devs forum

    Al.

  7. #7
    Administrator Bok's Avatar
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    The BOINC mailing lists are likely the best place to start..

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by ChertseyAl View Post
    I was considering starting a BOINC project that just reported the host's IP address once an hour and made the address available to the user. No credit, one NCI WU that runs forever.
    That is an interesting idea. Not only useful for "thefts" also useful to see if one of your remote machines loses Internet or goes down too.

  9. #9
    Free-DC Semi-retire gopher_yarrowzoo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Parasite View Post
    That is an interesting idea. Not only useful for "thefts" also useful to see if one of your remote machines loses Internet or goes down too.
    Yeah real handly.
    Semi-retired from Free-DC...
    I have some time to help.....
    I need a new laptop

  10. #10
    Crazy Old Man
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    I agree this idea might work especially for laptop users, the only thing is it needs to run in secret mode and won't help if the thief is smart.
    Now the secret mode of boinc is sometimes seen as a problem for certain companies, i would like to add you can run a project which does not use much power called Freehal
    If you set that to run just one unit it does hardly have a impact on the computer.
    But i have to add that since its only one person running it sometimes messes up badly

  11. #11
    BOINC Gypsy ChertseyAl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by uBronan View Post
    won't help if the thief is smart
    That wouldn't matter in the UK. Thieves aren't smart. We're not talking 'Raffles' here, just kids stealing for booze and drugs

    Quote Originally Posted by uBronan View Post
    you can run a project which does not use much power called Freehal
    That's what I was doing. But one day it blew up, downloaded millions of workunits and made a laptop unusable. And another day I found FreeHAL port scanning. Plus it didn't/doesn't look like the most stable project out there. But I did consider it as a free solution

    Another big problem is that once you've got the IP information and traced it, the police (in the UK at least) won't use it. Clear up rate on thefts is about 3%. Persuading the local police to contact the ISP and get an exact subscribers details are zero

    Al.

  12. #12
    BOINC Gypsy ChertseyAl's Avatar
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    Digging up an old thread

    My temporary 'solution' is to run Freehal (which has no work for a while), but the requests for work result in the IP being logged.

    So, all that's actually needed (from my POV) is a project that never has any work and is has 100% uptime

    Spent a little time today looking at what was involved setting up a server and a project, but my head exploded For now, Freehal does the job.

    Al.

  13. #13
    Administrator Bok's Avatar
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    WUProp likely does the same thing too, no cpu, but helps in tracking the workunits across projects.

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