Undercover – a chance to recover a stolen MacBook

If your computer has been stolen, there are several ways to catch an intruder. The most affordable option is the Find My Mac feature, which allows you to track the location of your vehicles through the iCloud.com website.

If your computer is turned on, then you can remotely display a message on its screen, completely erase it and, of course, see its coordinates on the map.

This is a working option for the private sector, but not for our apartment buildings, where there can be up to 200 apartments at one address. Therefore, I decided to play it safe and installed the Undercover program on my home Macs 4 years ago.

Download Undercover, 4.2 MB

This is an analogue of Find My Mac, which, in the event of theft, determines not only the coordinates of the laptop, but also:

  • captures a person’s face with a built-in camera;
  • takes screenshots of what is happening on the laptop screen;
  • saves everything that the thief types on the keyboard;
  • saves the entire history of sites that he visits in the browser.

What is Undercover

The classic catch of Undercover is a face photo, screenshots of social networks, approximate GPS coordinates, an IP with the name of the wireless network to which the laptop is connected. All this helps to quickly identify the kidnapper.

How Undercover works

Undercover consists of a small utility that you install on your computer and a web service. If the laptop is lost, you need to go to the web service and remotely activate the utility that will start collecting data about the robber.

Every 8 minutes Undercover will send screenshots, photos and keyboard logs directly to your undercoverhq.com account, where they will slowly accumulate.

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The utility is a system utility, so a reboot is required after installation. Immediately after the restart, you will see a dialog box in which you must enter the license key. This is the first and last manifestation of Undercover in the system. After that, the utility will continue to work in the background without any signs of existence. It won’t even be on the list of programs.

When you are finished installing the client side, you will be directed to the official site. There you need to set a password for the web service, where all information about the robber will be accumulated in the event of theft.

Finding a missing computer

If your laptop is lost or stolen, you need to go to undercoverhq.com.

Go to the tab Theft Report and inform the service about the loss by clicking on the button Report Stolen… When the alarm is triggered, Undercover will prepare to activate the client application as soon as your laptop is online.

When this happens, the utility will start collecting the following information and display it in adjacent tabs:

  • The IP address from which the computer accessed the network. If it is a static IP, then it will not be difficult for law enforcement agencies to trace its owner;
  • Visual location of the laptop on the map;
  • Desktop screenshots. Data from iCloud, social networks, email messages, etc. can get there, and this will help determine the circle of contacts and the identity of the “new owner”.
  • Pictures from the iSight camera. Thanks to them, you will immediately see the face of a person working at a computer, these photos will greatly facilitate the work of the police.
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Everything that Undercover can collect can be downloaded to a computer in one archive

Plan b”

If, for one reason or another, you were unable to track your computer, Undercover has a fallback. The Mac software will start dimming the laptop screen, simulating a malfunction. This will force the kidnapper to either try to sell the computer or take it to a service, which (in civilized countries) will give you and the law enforcement agencies new chances.

In addition, you can send any message to the laptop that will be displayed on the screen, for example, your contact information.

Important features

1. For Undercover to work, an attacker must be able to use the computer and connect to the network. It is clear that he will not be able to do this when the account is password protected. Alas, Guest Login with Disk Encryption enabled FileVault 2 does not work. Deny FileVault 2 also not an option, since without encryption, all your data will be at a glance.

The way out of the situation is simple – create another account in the system with Standard user rights, and explicitly indicate this password in the password hint. I made an account called “12345” with the password “12345” and indicated it in the prompt – “Password: 12345”. I am sure that it is simply impossible to miss this.

To create an account, go to Системные настройки ▸ Учетные записи, Press + in the lower left corner and fill in the required fields.

2. There is always the possibility that your laptop was stolen not for the purpose of resale, but for the sake of the data stored on it. To keep your information safe, be sure to turn on FileVault 2 encryption in Системные настройки ▸ Защита и Безопасность ▸ FileVault

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3. To protect the laptop from formatting, rearranging the system and starting from an external drive, it is worth setting a password for EFI (analogous to BIOS on a Mac). In this case, the attacker will not be able to do anything with the computer, he will only have to use our open account or carry the laptop to the official service, where our plan B will await him.

To set a password:

  1. Shut down your Mac;
  2. Turn it on while holding the keys CmdRso that it boots in Recovery Mode;
  3. Please select Firmware Password Utility on the menu Utilities;
  4. In the window that appears, click Turn On Firmware Password and enter the desired password;
  5. Click on Set Password;
  6. Reboot for the changes to take effect.

4. In order for the service to correctly display the laptop’s geolocation, you need to enable geolocation services for Undercover in its settings. To do this, go to Системные настройки ▸ Защита и Безопасность ▸ Конфиденциальность

In conclusion

The Undercover website has a whole section with stories of users who managed to find thieves and return stolen items using this program. Fortunately, with the right settings, this becomes very real. The robber will not be able to clean and keep the Mac, but it will be possible to use it and go online. Therefore, sooner or later, Undercover will take it on the hook.

Family license for 5 Undercover Macs costs $ 59. The current version is 6. I bought a license of version “four” and all updates were free. So the price is very attractive in the long run.

Download Undercover, 4.2 MB

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