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Use geofencing to actively keep track of your devices

You know what’s great about Prey? That you can get into your account and see where your devices are at any given time. You know what’s not so great about Prey? That you need to do this every time you want to know if they’re safe of not. This. Ends. Today.

Introducing Geofencing

From now on you’ll be able to set areas on a map and get notifications whenever a device enters and/or leaves them, so you can make sure that all your school’s computers are at the precint, or that your employees aren’t taking company laptops home to watch Netflix (may or may not be chilling in the process). Now, instead of wasting time keeping tabs on your phones and laptops, Prey will do the job for you. You get more with less.

If you’re ever in need of knowing if one of your devices is taken into or out of a place – say, your office, your home, even your city, our new Geofencing feature is the way to go. It allows you to create personalized zones on your Prey account and get an email notification whenever one of the devices assigned to them leaves or enters the area.

This means ever greater control over your protected devices and real time notifications that will keep you updated on your devices’ whereabouts, just like the ruler of a tiny empire with super fast ninjas overseeing your territory’s borders.

Before we get into the specifics, we’d like to give you a heads up on how geofencing is currently working:

  1. Android and iOS devices only running Prey’s latest version. We’re working on extending the feature to other device types and operating systems. How useful will it be when you can even be notified if your laptop leaves your office without you noticing? In case of theft, time is gold.

  2. Available for pro users with Home plans and over. This means, users who can currently manage 10 devices or more.

You can create up to 10 different zones and the process is pretty straightforward: zones are circular areas that can be placed over the map with a pin, or type a referential address to place the marker.

Zones are customizable in terms of name, size and color.

Up to 10 devices can be added to an individual zone. To add a device, select it from the bar on the left side of the screen. If you’re a heavy user with a large amount of devices, use the search tool at the top.

Selected devices will appear at the top of the list with their name and their connection status to the Prey servers right below. As it’s always the case with Prey services, devices must be connected to the Internet to be tracked.

Last but not least, notifications can also be customized. You can select whether you want to get an email every time a device enter or leaves a zone, or both. If you select to get no email notifications on both cases, though, geofencing won’t do much good, since there’s no other way for Prey to warn you that your device is on the move.

Eager to try it? Dig in and splash that map with zones. The feature is still on beta, so we’re still smoothing out the rough edges. We can’t wait to hear your feedback so we’re always listening on Twitter, Facebook, and directly in your Prey account.

New Feature: Introducing Starred Reports

Prey’s new feature allows Pro users (those with Personal, Home or Customized plans)  to star reports, which will make handling the information Prey sends much easier and faster.

From today on, Pro account users are now capable to highlight any report they’ve received by clicking on the new star icon, like shown below.

This means that the starred reports won’t be automatically deleted once the account has reached full storage capacity (remember that Pro accounts can save up to 100 reports), and they’ll appear right at the top of the list on the report section, which will make them easier to spot.

The feature will be available from today for all Pro account users, directly integrated into the Prey account interface, as the star icon depicted before. It works in all devices and there’s not operating system restriction, so feel free to try it now. Undoing it easily done by clicking on the star icon once again.

It’s no secret that reports are Prey’s most prominent feature: they include pictures, location and more — all crucial pieces of information to recover missing devices and even more so, they can be used as evidence during an investigation. Marking the most important reports as starred (namely, those with certain location information or with pictures that might help identify the thieves) is a fast way of organizing them according to priority, and it’s also a way of protecting valuable information, since they cannot be deleted automatically in case report storage is in full capacity.

This is just the beginning, though. We’re constantly improving our features and report management is one of our top priorities. Stay tuned for upcoming improvement, such as multiple report deletion (which we know, will save everyone tons of work).

As usual, feel free to contact us via Facebook, Twitter or directly from your Prey account — reach us any time by clicking on the chat icon on the lower right side of the screen.

Good news: double report capacity for free users and no more automatic report deletion

If you’re familiar with the use of Prey, you probably already know about the way our reporting feature works. Once you set your device as missing on your Prey account, report generation is triggered. As of that moment, Prey will gather information about your device and send detailed reports during the time the phone, laptop or tablet remains missing. New users need to know that this is a vital part of the way Prey works, and what makes reports meaningful and effective is that these are generally the key piece of evidence requested by police if you should ever need to retrieve your missing device.

For free users, and up until now, up to 10 reports per device were stored in your Prey account before the oldest ones were automatically deleted as new reports came in. See, the downside of this feature can be vital when searching for a stolen device: the first reports were deleted without notice to make room for the new ones, even if that meant deleting crucial information. What if the exact location of your device was recorded on that first report, or the picture of the thief was stored there?

Chillax! Good news is, no more reports will be deleted without your consent: now it is up to the user to consciously decide which reports to delete in order to free up space for the new ones. Better news? We’ve extended the report saving capacity of your Prey account to 20 per device, as twice as much as before. The more reports you can store, the more evidence you can gather in the search of your lost device. Also, this means more time when deciding which ones to delete and which to keep or save.

If your report inbox is full, these are your options:

  1. Delete reports. That photo of a white ceiling or the unflattering close-up of your face that resulted of that test you made once you first installed Prey might not be entirely relevant. Choose wisely which reports to delete and save them before you do, just in case.

  2. Print reports. Save them. File them. They are extremely useful as evidence to present to the police. Because as you already know, always go to the police if any of your devices are stolen.

  3. Decrease reports interval: Our shortest report interval for free users is one every five minutes. You can choose to decrease the frequency of the reports each time you set a device as missing: that way, you’ll have more time to go through your existing reports and taking action about which to keep.

  4. Upgrade your plan. Get tailored-to-your-needs protection and up to 100 reports per device.

Remember: no reports will be deleted without your consent, so keep an eye on your email. We’ll let you if you’re running out of space to store reports. You never know if the last one you get might be crucial to recover that phone or laptop you love so much.

Why Is Prey Difficult to Uninstall on Android?

Don’t you hate when it you download an app that’s not what you expected? Even worse: what if you can’t even remove it from your phone or tablet? We get it, because we hate that too  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

We get the frustration this might cause, and we know that Prey is not an easy app to uninstall on Android. The purpose of this post is to explain why that is, and how to remove it if you must.

Many of our Android users are having a hard time uninstalling Prey from their phones. Oh, we have heard:

We understand why it might be complicated for some users to figure out how to uninstall the app. You know the drill: you commonly drag any app on your device and drop it on the ‘uninstall’ bin, or you can follow these steps. However, Prey doesn’t work like the rest of applications regularly do. Trying the aforementioned method won’t remove Prey from your Android phone, for a number of reasons:

  1. Prey is difficult to remove because it should prevent thieves from doing so. If the person who stole your phone goes through it and recognizes our icon or finds out about what our service can do, they will definitely want to uninstall it before they get busted. The fact that Prey can’t be removed the regular way is one way to keep control of your device. You can also toggle the camouflage mode on your Prey account to make the icon disappear (pressing the volume down button on your phone for 10 seconds will also do the trick). Thieves won’t even know they’re being watched.

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  1. Prey works as a device administrator. Yes, time is critical if your phone ever falls on the wrong hands. The Block and Wipe features of Prey act in your favor to help you prevent any unwanted person to access your phone, your apps, and your private information. Blocking your phone is an effective way of stopping unauthorized access to your personal stuff, but this can only be achieved if Prey counts with device administration privileges. That means that you must revoke said privileges in order to uninstall the app.

 

So finally, how’s it done?

We thought you’d never ask. If you’re positively sure you don’t need Prey’s protection any more, we’ll gladly explain how to uninstall the app:

  1. On the device, go to Prey > Extra Security

  2. Disable Uninstall Lock and also Revoke extra permissions

  3. Remove Prey as any other app.

 

If you can’t do this, you can also:

  1. Go to Android > Settings > Security > Device administrators

  2. Disable permissions for Prey

  3. Uninstall Prey as any other app

 

Having done this, our affair would be officially over. If that’s the case, though, we’d love to hear what went wrong. Was it something we did? Reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter, where we’ll happily engage in some friendly conversation and ping-pong a few GIFs with you.

Improved protection for laptops, Prey version 1.4.1

Say hello to our latest updates and improvements! Yes, we’re excited to tell you about the things we’ve been working on, but we’re more excited about you experiencing them all by yourself.

Laptop users, these are for you. Let’s get it on, shall we?

  1. Native Windows geolocation. New generation operating systems can report your location by themselves, just like your smartphone. Catching up to this modern times, and with improving your device protection in mind, we developed a native geolocation feature for Windows that boosts the precision of your device’s location information. The sight of the hawk is sharper than ever for Windows 8 and newer.

  1. Persistent actions. This improvement impacts the way your account communicates with the client and how the commands you send remain active even after blocking or restarting the device. None of your orders will be forgotten, master.

  1. Goodbye, “blink bug” on disabled cameras. Prey does have a few glitches we’re working on. For instance, the webcam light used to blink even when you requested the program not to take any pictures. Even that tiny light could have alerted the thief that something was going on. That’s—happily—not a problem any more. Rest assured that no more webcam light blinking will occur without your consent.

  1. So about the webcam… and command persistence. If you selected not to take pictures from your account, the instruction won’t be forgotten even after restarting or blocking the device. No ‘cheese’ required, unless you say otherwise.

Get all the shiny new stuff we’ve got for you. Log into your account and make sure that your devices are running on Prey’s latest version. It’s easy to see: below the device icon and the OS information, you’ll find Prey’s version in bold, proud characters.

Currently your laptop should read Prey: 1.4.1.  We’re on version 1.3.1 for mobiles.

 

 

Not updated yet? Set up automatic updates for your Windows, Mac, and Linux devices by clicking on your account’s settings, and then on Device management section. Once there just toggle this option:

Once you’re done, you’ll get the improved protection we’ve been working hard on delivering, so just sit back and enjoy the ride. We’ll keep the good stuff coming.

Post mortem: why Prey was down, how we fixed it and what’s next.

On Sunday, July 19th, 2015, Prey experienced an incident that lasted well into Monday 20th, effectively suspending all of our services and keeping users from being able to log into their accounts. We alerted our users on Sunday through our Facebook and Twitter accounts, and we were able to detail the status of the issue in two separate blog posts that explained how everything unraveled the next day.

Thing is, we still feel it’s necessary to stop and think about what happened. To make a recap, an analysis of how the events unfolded, and to share with you guys what we learned and what specific actions we’re taking to avoid anything like this happening again in the future.

The incident affected many of our users who trust our service to protect and retrieve their stolen devices, and due to the recent events, some people couldn’t count on Prey when they most needed it. We deeply apologize for everything that went wrong, and now we’re focusing on explaining why it happened, and how we’ll prevent it from happening again.

Why Prey went down

Our hosting provider suspended our service on July 19th.

We’ve been working with our provider for a while now, and they’ve proven to be one of the best infrastructure services of the world. The system was actually designed in a teamwork collaboration between their engineers and ours, resulting in a solid infrastructure that had never failed before.

Until it did. For administrative reasons.

Our usual monthly payment was supposed to be charged automatically on July 3rd, but the transaction failed. We checked the status of our billing account and there was no problem with it. When this happened in the past, there had been automatic attempts to retry the procedure – we trusted the process, and thought this time would be the same as usual. Unfortunately, there were no further attempts and we failed to noticed that. The payment wasn’t processed, which resulted in what caused the downfall of our service.

Sunday, July 19th, 2:42 AM (PST). This is the exact date and time when our hosting provider suspended the service, therefore disabling all the systems that support Prey.

We manually performed the payment as soon as we noticed, that very same Sunday morning. However, the provider didn’t reestablish the systems that support Prey immediately, as they should have.

Knowing the trouble this would cause, we contacted our provider right away, but due to time zone differences, they weren’t able to respond as fast as we and our users needed.

Fast forward to Monday, July 19th. Our provider finally responds. Two hours later, our service was finally reestablished after a process that involved our provider and our engineering team.

Prey was down for 31 whole frustrating hours.

Conclusions and next steps

Considering all that we’ve detailed above, all the troubles the downtime caused and how it jeopardized the trust our users that rely on us have on our service, we’re taking action so this never happens again.

First things first: we’ll add a backup credit card to our account with constant and guaranteed funds so billing won’t be an issue.

Also, we’ll establish as a company policy to immediately perform manual payment as soon as we get any notice of automatic payment failure. We won’t wait until the system retries automatically.

We know how hard Prey’s downtime hit our users when they needed us most.This was a big mistake that we’re still analyzing and learning from, but rest assured, no personal data breaches were involved and we’re taking every step possible to avoid any incident like this in the future.

We’re terribly sorry, and we’re taking action.

If you have any doubts or concerns about the status of our service, please drop us a line by logging into your Prey account and clicking the ‘Contact’ button.

Prey’s back!

We’re super glad and relieved to say that Prey is finally back from the dead. As you may have noticed, our service was down for several hours due to issues with our hosting provider. It was merely an administrative problem that took us too long to resolve, and we truly apologize for all the inconveniences it may have caused. We’re still analyzing how and why the issue happened – it was a big one, but we learn from our mistakes.

As of now, you can log into your Prey account and use all the features provided by our service, which is now working flawlessly once again. Track, control, block, wipe your devices – everything is A-OK!

We have to mention again that there was never an issue with your privacy or with the security of your data – the problem wasn’t the result of an external attack. It happened due to the fact that our hosting provider ceased to provide the systems to support Prey.

We apologize for failing to provide a service that many of you pay for on a regular basis. Please, feel free to drop us a line with your comments or concerns by logging into your Prey account and clicking the ‘Contact’ button.

Our service is down and we’re working to solve it

Hi, the Prey Team here. So you probably already noticed our service is currently down, which means there’s no way to access your Prey account – therefore, you’ll be unable to use any of the features Prey normally provides.

The problem is this: our systems aren’t working because our hosting provider has interrupted the service due to an administrative issue. As a result, all the systems that support Prey will be unavailable until said provider reestablishes them.

We’ve been constantly and eagerly in touch with our provider in order to solve this, ASAP. But unfortunately, their response hasn’t been as quick as we would like (and as you deserve).

We’re terribly sorry about all the inconveniences this is causing. This is a big deal, and we know our users’ trust is at stake. Believe us when we say this situation is as frustrating for you as it is for us – but that’s no excuse. We’ll work non-stop until the issue is solved and our service is fully and flawlessly restored.

Rest assured that as always, your privacy is completely safe with us. This isn’t in any way a safety issue, no data is compromised and your privacy has never been in question. It is, as we explained earlier, an administrative issue with our provider that has taken us too long to resolve.

We’ll do our best to keep you guys updated and we’ll let you know when we’re back up and running as soon as we’ve solved this.

If you have any doubts or concerns about the status of our service, please drop us a line by logging into your Prey account and clicking the ‘Contact’ button.

Thank you all for your patience and understanding.

Prey now working with police force against theft

Last week we talked extensively about the dangers of daring to retrieve a stolen device all by yourself. There are many… even deadly ones. No phone or laptop—or whatever’s in them—is worth risking your life. Our final advice: please go to the police. If your devices are ever stolen, report them to the authorities.

We’re working towards making that step easier: reaching out to the police whenever you’ve managed to track your device with Prey.

How’s that?

You see, we’ve been working hard at defeating theft right from the beginning of our time, in a galaxy far far away. Now we took a big leap forward and found some amazing allies.

A pioneer team against crime: our integration with Chilean police

For all of our chilean users, we have a new, powerful feature that will make the recovery process a lot more efficient. And safer, another of our top priorities. We’re now integrated with the Investigations Police of Chile (PDI), a first-time-ever alliance that directly connects our service with the Brigada del Cibercrimen (Cybercrime brigade) offices.

This is the first association of its kind in the world. A pioneer team indeed.

So, how does it work?

Easy peasy, thanks for asking. Just by logging into their account and marking the device as ‘Missing’ the user will get the option to notify the police directly from Prey.

If the user accepts, the second step is to complete a consent form that includes filling out information relevant for the investigation.

It’s a completely voluntary action, and none of the user’s data would ever be sent to the authorities without the owner’s explicit consent, as agreed on the previous step.

As soon the user authorizes the procedure, Prey will send reports directly to the police, which include device location, screenshots and pictures. This action simplifies the process of printing out the reports and physically taking them to the police headquarters to present as evidence – however, it is still necessary to go directly to the PDI unit that’s closer to your home to file a formal report.

We have to stretch this point: this procedure is only a means to deliver information, and it’s not a way to formally file a report. That can only be done directly at your nearest PDI unit.

Bottom line: does it work?

We’ve been testing the feature the past week and there’s already a recovery case in the making (we can’t wait to tell you all about it – soon). What we’re sure of is that this alliance will make the recovery process safer, easier and more effective.

As great news as this is, there is much more to be done. New integrations are coming in the future – hopefully, with police departments all over the world.

If Your Device Was Stolen, Go to the Police (and Other Friendly Advice)

Prey, Defeating Theft

We’ve been recently hearing a lot about the potential dangers of using a tracking app to locate a stolen phone, tablet or laptop and going straight to the thief’s lair to retrieve it all by yourself.

There are tragic, heartbreaking cases that have one thing in common: regular people confronting potential criminals to retrieve their devices. The results can be devastating, and the fact that a security service similar to ours was involved really kindled our need to advise you on this – on what to do when, report in hand, you know who has stolen your phone and exactly where they are.

So, you know the thief’s location. You even know their face. You probably want to punch said face.

We know that burning urge. Don’t act on it.

Our advice:

Don’t ever try to retrieve a stolen device all by yourself. (More…)