My laptop is imaged on a school network, which allows the technicians to remotely connect to it, locate it and track what I'm doing if I'm connected to their network, if I use Tor at home (or any different network), can they track what I've been doing on my computer if I later connect to their network when I use it at school? They can locate my computer even if I'm not on their network because they have data of my computer (such as serial no.) so they can ping it (idk exactly) even if I'm not connected but can they track my activities if I'm not on their network and if I'm using Tor?

Thanks for the answers, however as far as your answers are concerned, you're under the assumption that "malware" is installed on my computer to track my activities, I have sent private emails and had private conversations with my friends and these conversations involve trouble that we've been in with the tecnicians themselves, I doubt that there is programs on my computer to track my activites because then they would be able to uncover the real culprit in those situations but they mentioned nothing about it. I know that if they look at my private emails/conversation, it is illegal because they are breaching my privacy so that could've been the reason they did not mention it however the real question is that if I access a site using tor, will there be traces on my computer that I've been on that site?

There must also be a limit in terms of what programs they can install on my computer, as one of you have said, they can see and track every single one of my actions, that would be an invasion of my privacy which would be illegal because they don't have legal rights to see emails I've been sending because they're confidental or when I use IM

  • Dear, One interesting court ruling regarding similar matter is if you can not prove you are being spied on you have no case. It could be the reason that while you are being watched, if they do not tell you anything, you have no case.
    – Roya
    Jul 14, 2014 at 19:34
  • Dear, as far as I know, email and IM, are not considered confidential and private. Albeit old fashion mail is.
    – Roya
    Jul 14, 2014 at 19:52

5 Answers 5


If you use Tails, then if they've installed software, it won't run while you use Tails. If you download Tails using a different computer, they won't know you downloaded it at all.

You can also use a live OS like Ubuntu and keep the Tor Browser Bundle on a USB disk. As long as you avoid the OS that the tracking program is installed on, you're okay.

As for using whatever OS is on the computer: the other answers are correct, if they've installed software, they can see whatever you're doing.

  • 2
    This is the best option. Using Tails, the installed OS isn't running, and no installed software will run unless you intentionally run it. Nothing will be written to the HDD/SSD unless you explicitly mount it. But there will be evidence that the laptop was used. For example, the school's software could get SMART power cycle count from the HHD/SSD and compare with its boot count.
    – mirimir
    Jul 14, 2014 at 1:06
  • If BIOS and/or the hardware of the system have been modified or low level firmware be introduced to the laptop, they will catch you even if you use Tails. The rule of tum is never use a public computer to run Tails, because Tails can not defend against hardware modification, and if you do not have a full control of the computer, you do not know what modifications have been made to the system. It is better to be safe than sorry.
    – Roya
    Jul 14, 2014 at 3:20
  • @Roya: Certainly it is good to know about this possibility but I think in the case described in the question it is very improbable that the administrators would make such an effort to spy on users so extensively. ------ It is much more probable that they will disable booting from other media than the internal hard drive and protect the BIOS settings by a password. ...but if the user has administrator rights he can relatively easily overcome such limitations. Jul 14, 2014 at 7:57

Short answer: Yes

Long answer: It is not possible to locate a single computer in the midst of the internet just by knowing its serial number or properties like the computer name. However, they can install a program that calls home telling them: I'm computer xyz and now available at abc, thus allowing them to connect even when you're not on their network.

Then there is the question on whether they could collect back what you did when you join back to their network. As in the previous case, they could install a program that for instance takes a screenshot every second (or, as Roya suggests, records a movie) and gives it to them when you reconnect there.

Thus not even actions done offline would be safe.

On the other hand, your technicians are unlikely to care about what you do with the computer, and many of those actions may be illegal depending on your jurisdiction and whatever information you were given beforehand.

In summary: if you don't trust your admin, don't use the tools he gave you.

  • Allow me to elaborate on my statement, although I did mention they can track my computer, they said that in one case where a student laptop was stolen, they were somehow able to screen share to it and said that the thief had his Facebook open on the screen which enabled them to be able to track him down, I am not certain how they were able to screen share it when the thief was on a different network
    – Otvsaca
    Jul 14, 2014 at 12:57
  • @Otvsaca I think they used Prey preyproject.com
    – izabera
    Jul 14, 2014 at 13:47
  • @otvsaca, Dear, One way to screen share it is to install a specific software on the laptop which enable screen sharing. The software very much works like a malware.
    – Roya
    Jul 16, 2014 at 19:20

If these technicians have the ability to install arbitrary software on your laptop, which they do (as it's an image), then you should assume that they can track you wherever you are, whether you're on their network or not.

Installing Tor on a system that already has untrusted software does not make the system more secure.


Not only they can track you but also they are able to see any and every move you make. They can read your Emails, IM, even if you draft a love letter to your girlfriend and do not send that, they can read that letter. You have absolutly no privacy at all on that computer. In essence they act as God on that computer. Albeit without the wisdom of the God. The arbitrary software that they install on the system act as a malware as far as you are concerned. In presence of malware, using Tor is in vain. Arbitrary software can go as far as recording everything you do like a movie. The can watch, slow motion, rewind, look frame by frame every move you make on the laptop.


An important fact about the fields of security and anonymity is to always consider the worst case scenario and prepare for it ahead of time. A worst case scenrio maybe that you lose your job or you are expelled from university or in some extreme scenarios maybe that you lose your freedom or even worst. Once you know the worst case scenario, you can make an informed and conscious decision about the route you choose to take, and if the worst case scenario actually happened you may feel no regret, because you were aware of what could happen, but maybe you did not give it a high enough probability, or you decided despite of being aware of the worst case scenrio's probability of occurrance. In any case information is all that can be provided. Decision is yours and yours only to take.

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