VUWER (pronounced like “viewer”) is an application designed to remotely track your Mac laptop (or any other Apple computer) in the event that it is lost or stolen. If you can determine the location of your missing laptop, and the name, address, or image of the person using it, and provide this information to the police, then you may have a chance of recovering your property. VUWER is not foolproof, but it is reasonably secure, easy to implement, and costs nothing but a little time and effort to set up.
(1) VUWER is free of charge, open source, and relies on standard OS X commands and readily available freeware applications for installation and operation. Also, since VUWER is written in Applescript, it is relatively easy to modify or enhance in any way you choose.
(2) You are in complete control of where the captured data from your stolen laptop is sent and how it is accessed; data can be transmitted either by email or by secure file copy to another computer account.
(3) You can remotely capture screenshots, iSight images, and IP addresses from your laptop, and separately choose their respective repetition intervals.
(4) No third-party intermediary is required to track your laptop. VUWER eliminates any possibility of an unscrupulous person at a theft-recovery company snooping on you.
How VUWER Works
VUWER is a background process that automatically starts running upon login to a user account on your laptop. VUWER periodically monitors a web page or remote computer account that you create. By altering a line of text on the web page, or a text file on the remote account, you can instruct VUWER to automatically capture screen shots, iSight image files, and the IP address that your laptop is using to connect to the Internet, and send that information to you at regular intervals.
Obviously VUWER (or any other Mac recovery software, for that matter) will be useless against a professional thief who knows how to bypass password protection in OS X, or how to format or replace the hard drive before using the computer. However, my observation has been that the overwhelming majority of computer thieves are not professionals. In general, they are petty criminals (often drug abusers) who are looking for quick cash, and will sell a laptop to someone who doesn’t mind buying stolen goods. If you provide the thief (or buyer) with the means to use your laptop, he may be quite content to use it to surf the web, access Facebook, send email, etc., giving you an opportunity to track him and hopefully recover your property. The installation procedure will describe how to accomplish this while keeping your personal data secure.