laptop.jpgFacing the possibility that your laptop (or even desktop) could get stolen, lost or otherwise disappear makes me think of what I’d do. While it wouldn’t be earth shattering for me, there’s a lot of work I’ve put into this blog on ArsGeek and it has a lot of data on it I’d like to get back.

Note: This tutorial was written for Ubuntu or Debian based Linux distros. It will work with other distro’s with only minor modifications, mainly the way to install new programs.

That got me interested in some security measures I could take and more, what I could do to locate my laptop if it ever did get stolen? Here’s a quick guide to setting up a ‘Lojack’ for your laptop. If it’s taken and put on a network somewhere (obviously without being reformatted or reinstalled) you’ll be able to find it.

First, you’re going to need an account with a free dynamic DNS provider. DynDNS is a great one to use and will be focused on in this tutorial. This allows you to alias a dynamic IP address to a static hostname. They offer a number of domains from which you can choose. I have a DNS entry now at dnsdojo.net.

Once you’ve got an account with DynDNS, set up a dynamic DNS host by clicking on Add Host Service, and then Add Dynamic DNS Host. dyndnssetup.png

You’ll see in the image above that it has defaulted to BLANK.selfip.info. If you set this to your computer’s host name (in this example we’ll use arsgeek) it would be arsgeek.selfip.info. This is your host name. Jot this down, you’ll need it in a few minutes.

Then we’re going to install a client that will keep DynDNS updated as to what the laptop’s real, actual IP address is. This is important as, especially with laptops that tend to roam around a bit, you’re IP address will change a lot. We want to be able to pinpoint your computer’s IP no matter what it is.

The client we’ll use is one called ddclient. Let’s install it.
sudo apt-get install ddclient
Once the install begins, you’ll be asked a couple of questions. When it asks you for a fully qualified domain name for your host, you’ll plug in what you just jotted down above (in this example:) arsgeek.selfip.info.

whichhost.png

Then you’ll be asked to type in your DynDNS username and password.

Lastly, it will ask you what interface you’re going to use for this. Type in ‘web’ without the quotes.interface.png

That’s pretty much all you’re going to do to set this up. To verify it’s working, head on over to DynDNS again, click on My Services at the top. Once you’re on the My Services page, look at the Host Level Services at the bottom. You should see your Dynamic DNS services listed. Click on it and you’ll see a report containing a message that looks like this:

dyndnsmessage.png

Alternatively, you can try pinging, sshing or otherwise connecting to your own machine via the new DNS entry that you’ve set up.

If your laptop ever is stolen, start looking for your DNS entry by pinging it. Once you see that it’s online, you can use a program like traceroute from another machine to find your laptop’s default gateway. Once you have that, notify the police and the ISP in question and get your computer back!

(Note – if you have another Ubuntu machine that you want to use to trace your laptop, be sure you install traceroute on it: sudo apt-get install traceroute)

With props to the UbuntuGuide for the tips.