(Update, October 2009.) Adeona depends on the availability of a separate service, OpenDHT. On July 1, OpenDHT was taken down. We have taken the opportunity to set up OpenDHT again on PlanetLab, under our administration. However, we are still testing our OpenDHT infrastructure. Therefore, at this time we are not encouraging new downloads of Adeona.

Overview

Adeona is the first Open Source system for tracking the location of your lost or stolen laptop that does not rely on a proprietary, central service. This means that you can install Adeona on your laptop and go — there's no need to rely on a single third party. What's more, Adeona addresses a critical privacy goal different from existing commercial offerings. It is privacy-preserving. This means that no one besides the owner (or an agent of the owner's choosing) can use Adeona to track a laptop. Unlike other systems, users of Adeona can rest assured that no one can abuse the system in order to track where they use their laptop.

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.

How do I use it?

Using Adeona only requires downloading and installing a small software client. Adeona is free to use.

Why Adeona?

With the growing ubiquity of, and user reliance on, mobile computing devices (laptops, PDAs, smart phones, etc.), loss or theft of a device is increasingly likely, disruptive, and costly. Internet-based tracking systems provide a method for mitigating this risk. These tracking systems send, over the Internet, updates regarding the current location of the device to a remotely administered repository. If the device is lost or stolen, but maintains Internet connectivity and unmodified software, the tracking system can keep tabs on the current whereabouts of the device. This data could prove invaluable when the appropriate authorities attempt to recover the device.

Unfortunately, with current proprietary tracking systems users sacrifice location privacy. Indeed, even while the device is still in the rightful owner's possession, the tracking system is keeping tabs on the locations it (and its owner) visit. Even worse, with some commercial products, even outsiders (parties not affiliated with the tracking provider) can "piggy-back" on the tracking system's Internet traffic to uncover a mobile device user's private information and/or locations visited.

Adeona has three main properties:

The Mac OS X version also has an option to capture pictures of the laptop user or thief using the built-in iSight camera and the freeware tool isightcapture. Like your location information, these images are privacy-protected so that only the laptop owner (or an agent of the owner's choosing) can access them. Here are some examples:

For more details check out the Frequently Asked Questions or some of the other documentation.

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The History of Adeona

Adeona is named after the Roman goddess of safe returns. This system is the result of recent academic research started at the University of Washington, with participants now also at the University of California San Diego and the University of California Davis. The foundations of the Adeona design — and an analysis of its security and privacy properties — are published in a research paper at the 2008 USENIX Security Symposium.

The lead Ph.D. students on the project are Gabriel Maganis and Thomas Ristenpart, working with UW faculty members Tadayoshi Kohno and Arvind Krishnamurthy.