Prey (software)

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For the video game, see Prey (2006 video game).
Prey Logo (Radar).png
Developer(s) Fork Ltd.
Initial release March 24, 2009 (2009-03-24)
Stable release
1.6.3[1] / September 2, 2016 (2016-09-02)
Development status Active
Written in Bash, Java, Objective-C, Python, Node.js, Ruby
Operating system Windows, Linux, OS X, Android, iOS
Type Laptop tracking software
License GNU General Public License; proprietary (Prey Pro)

Prey is a freemium web service for tracking and monitoring laptop and desktop computers, smartphones and other electronic devices capable of running software applications, mainly intended to help in cases of theft. The service is hosted by servers on the Internet, to which an open-source software agent on the tracked computer connects. The host can signal the agent, prompting it to reply with information about its current location, and can trigger various other actions.[2] The user can log into the Prey site if the tracked device is stolen, and request information about its location.

Prey runs on most versions of Microsoft Windows (except Windows Mobile and Windows Phone), Linux, Android, OS X and iOS. The computer version of the Prey agent is written primarily in Bash, while the mobile counterparts are written in their native languages, Java and Objective-C.[1][3]

All of the client-side source code is published on GitHub and distributed under the GNU General Public License; the server code is proprietary,[4] although an open source version is available for public use.[5]

When the device is connected to the Internet after Prey has been asked for information (typically after theft), the Prey server asks the software agent to send location information, which is made available to the registered user.


Fork Ltd.[6] is a privately held software company with offices in the US, Chile and Hong Kong. It was founded in 2009 by CEO Tomás Pollak and COO Carlos Yaconi.[7]

Location information[edit]

If a device is to be located, usually because it has been stolen and will be used by unauthorised users, the owner logs into the Prey site and reports it as missing. The Prey server then attempts to contact the device when it connects to the Internet, asks it for location information, and can send user-requested commands, e.g., to lock the device.

On devices such as smartphones with built-in GPS (satellite positioning) capability, the GPS location is used.[8]

For a computer unable to connect to GPS, either without a receiver or indoors, if it has a Wifi interface the device scans for Wifi hotspots (it does not need to connect to any of them), and uses WiFi positioning by means of the Google Location API to obtain location information[9][10]

On devices with neither GPS nor WiFi, such as most desktop and some laptop computers, Prey provides the location of the Internet server the device is connected to; this may be far from the computer, and of little use.

It is also possible to command actions such as switching on a device's camera to view the user.[11]


The first version of the agent was released for Linux and Mac OS X in March 2009 and for Microsoft Windows in April 2009.[12] Version 0.3 was available in September 2009.[13] Version 0.5.4 was released in December 2011;[1][14] on April 4, 2012, it was replaced by 0.5.3.[14] Version 1.6.1 was current as of June 2016.[1]

Prey provides Wi-Fi auto-connect, data securing, screenshot grabbing, webcam image capturing, hardware scanning, screen locking, remote messaging, and sonic-alarm triggering.[15] Each feature is managed as a module that can be activated on demand.


  1. ^ a b c d "Prey download page". Fork Ltd. Retrieved 19 October 2016. ; filenames indicate version, e.g. prey-windows-1.4.2-x86.exe
  2. ^ Purdy, Kevin (Sep 21, 2010). "How to track and (potentially) recover your stolen laptop or Android with Prey". Lifehacker. 
  3. ^ Pot, Justin (July 15, 2010). "Track down and recover your stolen laptop with Prey". MakeUseOf. 
  4. ^ "Terms of Service for Prey's Control Panel". Fork Ltd. 2012. The Control Panel … application is currently not licensed, and [is] maintained only by Fork. 
  5. ^ "Prey Standalone Control Panel". Fork Ltd. 2013. Simple app to trigger reports for Prey Standalone users. 
  6. ^ "Fork". Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  7. ^ "About our company". Fork Ltd. 2014. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "How to enable Geolocation". May 6, 2014. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "Prey 0.3.7: Now, locate your computer – Prey". Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  10. ^ Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (16 November 2011). "How Google--and everyone else--gets Wi-Fi location data". ZDNet. Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  11. ^ Karsten, Matthew (2012). "Prey Project: How To Recover A Stolen Computer • Expert Vagabond". Retrieved 4 December 2015. 
  12. ^ Pollak, Tomás (Apr 14, 2009). "Prey: Y rastrea tu computador robado (Prey: And tracks your stolen computer)". Bootlog. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  13. ^ Wallen, Jack (Sep 17, 2009). "How do I use Prey to help recover a stolen laptop?". TechRepublic. 
  14. ^ a b "Prey Release Archive". Fork Ltd. 8 May 2013. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014.  List of releases up to 8 May 2013
  15. ^ Mathews, Lee (Oct 28, 2010). "Prey tracks stolen Windows, Mac or Linux laptops, or Android smartphones, for free". Switched. Archived from the original on 6 May 2014. 

External links[edit]