PC PhoneHome: FAQ

Q: What is PhoneHome?

A: PhoneHome is a piece of software designed to help law enforcement officials recover a stolen computer. It is available for the PC and the Mac. It can be used on both laptops and desktop computers.

Q: So, how does it work?

A: Whenever the computer connects to a network, it sends an email message to Brigadoon and Columbia IT Security. If your machine is lost or stolen, These messages can be used to help recover your machine.

Q: Is private information being sent to Brigadoon, the company that provides PhoneHome, or anyone else?

A: Information provided includes computer name, MAC addresses, and IP addresses. No one is ever given your name, contact information, or anything else identifying. Brigadoon and law enforcement officials contacted will only know that it is a Columbia person's computer and it will be returned to Public Safety where you can claim it.

Q: Can I install PhoneHome on all of my computers?

A: Yes. You can install PhoneHome on home and work computers, laptops and desktops.

Q: Do I have to remove PhoneHome when I graduate/leave the University?

A: No, you can leave PhoneHome running on machines that you have installed it on, and if it becomes stolen, you can still contact Public Safety.

Q: Can I install PhoneHome on a machine after I graduate/leave the University?

A: No, you can no longer install the program after you leave.

Q: How do I know that the installation has completed successfully?

A: The installer does not report that installation has completed successfully. If it does not give an error, it has installed successfully.

Q: How do I know the program is running?

A: PhoneHome is designed to be invisible to people using the machine, so there is no easy way to verify its presence.

Q: What if I need to remove PhoneHome from my computer?

A: PhoneHome software cannot be removed in the standard way, because we don't want thieves to be able to uninstall it. Please contact the CUIT Support Center for assistance removing the software.

Q: What do I do if, after installing PhoneHome, my computer is lost or stolen?

A: Contact Columbia Public Safety and file a report. Public Safety will contact Brigadoon who will contact law enforcement officials in the location where your machine shows up. The machine will be recovered if possible and returned to Public Safety where you can claim it.

Q: Should I keep any information to help locate my computer?

A: There are two pieces of information that will assist Public Safety in their investigation. The first is the serial number of the computer, usually on the back or bottom of the computer. The second is the MAC address of the network card in the computer. You should write these down and keep them in a safe place, such as the place where you keep your warranty information and manuals.