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Theft happens. Someone I know very well just had her phone plucked right out of her zippered purse on a crowded bus.

Bummer, right? When something like this happens, you feel pretty helpless. It's not like your stolen device can "phone home" to tell you where it ended up.

Actually, it can, if you've installed some kind of tracking app/service. Apple's excellent Find My Phone allows for remote tracking, data erasure, and more, and there are similar apps for Android. Ah, but laptops? You probably think your only tracking option is something like Absolute … Read more

Thief allegedly rips tablet from 2-year-old's hands

Some like to believe that thievery carries with it a touch of honor.

When it comes to stealing gadgets, however, it seems no one is safe.

On Thursday evening, a man was driving in San Francisco, trying to park his car. As PC World reports, two men came over to him.

One told him he couldn't park in that particular part of the city's Mission District. The other, police say, opened the back door and took a tablet out of a passenger's hands.

The passenger was 2 years old.

San Francisco Police Department spokesman Officer Albie Esparza … Read more

Senators propose smartphone antitheft 'kill switch' bill

Lawmakers' bids to require a smartphone "kill switch" seem to be gaining momentum.

Following the proposal of a California bill, a handful of senators have now proposed federal legislation to require carriers to provide a security feature on all cell phones that would render the devices inoperable if stolen.

The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act is being led by Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), along with three other senators, Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). The idea is for users to be able to de-activate and remotely wipe their personal information from their phones if lost or … Read more

Proposed bill would require kill switch in Calif. phones, tablets

California regulators are stepping up their efforts to deter smartphone theft.

State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, and other regulators will introduce a bill on Friday that would require smartphones and tablets sold in the state to have software that would completely disable the device if stolen, a concept often referred to as a "kill switch." If passed, the bill would go into effect for any device sold after January 1, 2015.

The bill is the latest step taken by regulators to force more aggressive action to crack down on theft. The … Read more

The 404 1,420: Where we ring and run (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Discussing five movies about relationships per month could cut the three-year divorce rate in half.

- Beware the one-ring phone sex scam.

- Tech is cruelly ripping teens from their natural shopping mall habitats.

- Facebook celebrates 10 years with Look Back.

- Today's show and tell features this collectible Batman figure from Side Show Toy!… Read more

Spot a phishing e-mail in 2014

You almost got me, you crafty little phisherman.

The subject line of the e-mail referenced "your Apple ID." The body mentioned my credit card and how it had just been "updated." A quick scan of the rest caused momentary alarm. My credit card? I didn't make any changes to my credit card or my Apple account.

Then my morning coffee -- and common sense -- kicked in. Upon closer inspection, I recognized this e-mail for what it was: an attempt to infiltrate my computer and steal some personal information. In other words, a hacker doing … Read more

Windows Phone grabs a ride with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, one of the most popular titles in the franchise series, has made its way to Windows Phone just a month after it arrived on Android and iOS.

Rockstar Games launched GTA: San Andreas to Windows Phone on Monday for $7. The game follows the same storyline as the console versions that launched years ago. In addition to downloading the game, players will also need to download an additional 2.5GB to get the full title onto their devices.

For now, GTA: San Andreas is available on just a handful of Windows Phone devices, including the … Read more

GTA players turn virtual photographers to shoot in-game combat

My neighbors have been meeting regularly to discuss ways we can report and prevent crime in our area. I have a new idea -- get Grand Theft Auto V gamers on the case. They're doing a mighty thorough job documenting crime in Los Santos.

It's all thanks to photographer and filmmaker Christopher Murrie, who a few days back let Reddit know he's been playing GTA Online in passive mode as a "war correspondent" dressed in a helmet, camo pants, and a black jacket with "MEDIA" printed across the back. Passive mode makes it impossible to attack other players while you're on foot, and makes you impervious to attacks yourself. … Read more

Review: Protect your PC with ZoneAlarm Free Firewall

ZoneAlarm Free Firewall protects your Windows PC from intrusions and online threats. It's easy to use and works alongside your antivirus and other security tools, including many other firewalls. Its Auto-Learn feature conforms to your computer use. After you've allowed your frequently used apps, ZoneAlarm mostly works in the background, only appearing when something changes, like when you install a new program -- or some hacker tries to.

To install ZoneAlarm Free Firewall, you must opt for an IE toolbar and search provider (which keeps ZoneAlarm free of charge), though they uninstall with a click; or (like us) … Read more

Review: Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V raises the bar on open-world action games. You get to revisit the passive city of San Andreas and live the GTA way: with cars, guns, and a whole lot of things that'd probably get you arrested in real life.

Pros

Endless activities: The GTA series has always been known for its neverending list of things to do outside of the single-player storyline. GTA V offers even more: In addition to stealing cars, running over pedestrians, getting chased by cops, and the usual law-breaking recreations, GTA V lets you swim in the ocean, do yoga, shop … Read more