The dreaded moment you hope never happens—someone has stolen your laptop. You could have private information, pictures, or even private information belonging to the company you work for, all lost forever. It can cause you pain, money, or even a job.
There are paid services that will track your laptop, such as Computrace LoJack. However, that company is notorious for not getting the job done. Besides, who wants to spend money, when it can be done for free? Not me.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to make sure your computer can be recovered (in most instances) if it is ever lost or stolen. This will be done using a keylogger and some intelligent sleuthing. I will be using Windows; if you use Mac or Linux, you can use some of the techniques provided in this article, in tandem with some of the free loggers for those platforms, such as LKL.
Step 1 Getting the Software
We’re going to be using the FREE Keylogger made by Smithy.
- Download Steel Keylogger by Smithy here.
- Go to the directory that you downloaded Steel to, and extract the archive (right-click > extract here).
- Put the Steel.exe in a private directory that a thief would not think to look under. Try to put it in a hidden folder, or obscure directory, for example:
Then make a folder inside of that called “steel” and throw steel.exe inside of it. You’ll end up with:
Step 2 Setup and Configuration
Now we’re on to edit the preferences to optimize it for our needs. I recommend having a separate email JUST for steel, as it will be filled with logs and images.
1. Run steel.exe by double clicking on it.
2. Go to Options > Preferences.
3. Click Startup and Exit.
4. Click the check boxes for Start in Hidden Mode and Run at System Startup (All Users).
5. Check Hide for when Exit is pressed.
6. Click Security and check Password Protect Unhide, and set your choice of password
7. Click Email and edit the credentials to fit yours. Make sure SSL is enabled. This will ensure that the logs are sent to your email, and your password can’t be packet-sniffed.
8. If you want Images sent—I recommend this—check the box and in the drop down, select Every Hour.
9. Go to the Logging tab, and choose if you want a key combo to unhide Steel, or to type a password and cut it to reveal Steel. The choice is all yours.
10. Check Enable Screen Capturing.
11. Set the image quality and interval to what you desire.
12. Click the Save Settings button.
Whenever you are in a place where your laptop is in danger of being stolen, make sure you activate Steel, and you will be protected.
What Can I Do with This Information?
The tables have suddenly turned. This is perfect information for law enforcement to use to get your laptop back home.
What if the Thief Doesn’t Log On to Personal Websites?
- Log onto your Gmail account that contains all of the logs.
- Scroll to the bottom and find the link that says Details.
- Take a screen shot of the page, and give the IP addresses with their log-in times to law enforcement as soon as possible. This IP is the address of your thief, if they so much as turn your computer on, Gmail will log the IP for you. Thanks Google!
- By the off-chance your attacker is smart, they could choose not to connect to the internet.
- Your attacker could reinstall the OS before getting on the internet.
Some ways to defeat this: you could create a guest account for the attacker to use as a “honey-pot” to lure them in. Chances are, if the attacker opens it, and has no way in, they will format the hard drive.
If they open it and can USE it, they probably will, thus, increasing your chances of getting your sweet laptop back in your arms.