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My office had a break-in over the weekend, and several laptops were stolen. Mine wasn't one of them, but I'm curious - the owners of the stolen computers (Windows and Mac) are all talking about remote wipe software. Is there anything like this for Linux? Something that would allow me to remotely wipe my system if it's ever lost or stolen.

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Prey has some limited wiping ability. It can delete some files (including passwords an thunderbird mails) and can lock the computer.

It's way easier to setup and use than a ssh server, but it's much less flexible and powerful.

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Thanks. I actually just posted the same thing; hopefully it will let me delete mine since you got to it first! – EmmyS Jan 31 '11 at 16:54
Ssh server's purpose isn't to protect/track your PC, that's what prey does. – papukaija Jan 31 '11 at 20:49

Yes. Several solutions exist, and I guess a relatively simple one would be to use dyndns or some sort of dynamic dns service combined with an ssh server on your laptop: then, as soon as the stolen laptop is connected to the internet, you can connect to it and erase its content.

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I should have asked if there was anything a relative newbie could use :o) I'm willing to dig in and try what you suggest; could you elaborate and/or point me to instructions for doing something like this? – EmmyS Jan 31 '11 at 15:31
Having an ssh server running is simply a matter of installing it: sudo apt-get install openssh-server. – lmontrieux Jan 31 '11 at 15:34
The dynamic dns bit might be a bit more tricky, but if you google "dyndns ubuntu" or something around those lines, you'll get hunderds of step-by-step tutorials – lmontrieux Jan 31 '11 at 15:35
Thanks. Now, once all of that is installed, how do I monitor for the computer being connected to the internet? I assume I'd need to have some kind of software installed on another machine that would constantly be running and watching for the IP address of the stolen machine, correct? – EmmyS Jan 31 '11 at 15:49
Yes, you could try to ping the machine, and when it replies, it's connected. Note that the ip address will change, that's the whole point of using a dynamic dns service. – lmontrieux Jan 31 '11 at 15:50

If you are worried about data that get stolen, you should not trust software for wiping data. The clever thief use a LiveCD or takes out the hard drive to browse / copy the data.

The best way to prevent data theft is by encrypting the (whole) drive. This will add a small performance hit, but your data will stay save. I'm using LUKS for full disk encryption. Be sure to use a long, lengthy, uncommon / random password.

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