If you’re getting or giving a new MacBook (s aapl) during the next couple of days, then grab Mac app Hidden, which provides a number of theft prevention services. Now until January 2011, the app is free. All you need to do is register, download and install.
What does Hidden do? It’s a little bit like Find My iPhone for your Mac computer, in that it lets you track where your computer goes, so long as whoever stole or bought your stolen computer from the original thief turns it on and connects to a wireless network. The app then connects to the Skyhook network of Wi-Fi signal towers (the same one the iPhone and iPod touch originally used for geo-location services) and reports back with the approximate location of your Mac.
Hidden also offers more than just location tracking, though. It launches a three-pronged attack agains thieves, by also attempting to identify them and keeping track of what they do with your computer. It accomplishes the first by taking pictures periodically using your built-in iSight camera, and the second by taking screenshots of your computer when it’s in use, which should help you know whether or not a thief attempted to access and abuse your private data.
The Hidden app doesn’t display an icon in the Applications folder, or a menu bar item, or even a preference pane in the Settings app. That way, no one will know that your Mac is being tracked. Once you’ve registered, you can sign in to the Hidden website from any computer and track computers on which you’ve installed the Hidden app right from a web-based dashboard. All you need to do is change the status of the machine to “Stolen” and Hidden will start gathering data. You can also set it to “Test Mode” if you want to see what kind of info you’ll receive in case of theft.
You can uninstall the app by following instructions found on Hidden’s FAQ, but it requires an administrator password, so as long as you’ve set a strong one, thieves shouldn’t be able to do the same.
For the great price of free, this is a great way to give some piece of mind this holiday to Mac-using friends and family.
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