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Lost in Space


Lost in Space

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Ross McMicken
Ross McMicken
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My company has pretty strong rules on laptops and data security. All laptops are encrypted, and a group policy prevents removal of the encryption. All laptops require a power on password, and there are occasional inspections. Storing data on a laptop is discouraged. Losing a laptop results in an unpleasant conversation with a senior manager about the circumstances of a loss - and a requirement to fill out some forms and attend a data security class. We lose very few laptops, and the majority are lost via theft.
jim.powers
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Looking back at my own portable storage of private information, I suspect that many people simply don't even think about it. Then, there is the mentality that it won't happen to me. Both big mistakes. I fell into the latter category since I never let my laptop out of my sight. In a public place, the bag never even left my shoulder. Still not secure enough.

I used to carry a wealth of personal information on my laptop with my previous employer. Nothing financial and still short of what an identity thief needs but someone looking for a simple address list would have hit gold. The question arises - did I need it? Well, yes. My laptop was also my development workstation so I had to have the databases the application ran against on my laptop for testing. I did use the BIOS password protection for my hard disk but as I have learned, that simply is not enough.
Jeffrey Irish
Jeffrey Irish
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I don't find it hard to believe that there are potentially 40 plus laptops lost each day. I'd be curious if the number of smartphones is also around that number since they are smaller and easier to forget.

I like the fingerprint thumb drive idea, but fear that those would be easily misplaced.

Regards,

Irish w00t
Keller-795887
Keller-795887
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BTW: Bonus tornado footage on the podcast is always a plus! w00t

Looks like Hanna may pass over us on Saturday, but I'd expect it to just be some heavy rain and wind by then.
notquitexena
notquitexena
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Someguy (9/3/2008)
Call me old-fashioned, but I usually put a tag with my name and phone number on all my bags when I travel. One time I left a carry-on bag on the ground in Dallas (I was REALLY tired at the time) and after realizing my memory lapse I wandered the entired terminal looking for it to no avail. It was found and returned via FedEx to me within a few days.

Of course the bigger issue is data safety. It seems like making ANY effort to secure data would be a big improvement over the total lack of protection that seems to satisfy most business travelers. Any level of Encryption is better than nothing. Unless you're in the CIA and there is an agent following you in order to steal your sensitive government data, the likelihood that an average theif would spend time trying to decrypt your data is pretty minimal.


I totally agree, but I use my business address and phone rather than my home address. It works just as well and you don't reveal your personal data.

I also make sure to use the password encryption capabilities on spreadsheets with confidential or personal data, and the same for Word docs.

As a backup, I use the Yahoo Briefcase storage server for key docs, so even if I lose laptop and memory stick I can still go online and retrieve the docs. (Briefcase online storage came with my home computer set up.) The only downside with Yahoo Briefcase is it limits docs to 5 MB each, so for bigger docs I have to partition them.
yohannn
yohannn
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I would like to break this into the physical realm... 40 lap tops at 14"X12"X1" requires 3.888 cubic feet of storage space. Lets assume 5 business travel days a week equals is 19.444 cubic feet about 50 weeks a year (2 for vacationWink) 972 cubic feet.

Seems like a lot of space....
Wayne West
Wayne West
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Those are pretty amazing numbers. I've never lost a laptop, though I did once leave my backpack with my laptop in it at the airport. Fortunately I realized what I'd done while I was in the parking garage, it was exactly where I left it.

Myself, I'd be pretty frantic if I lost my laptop at an airport. I'm thinking mainly of the inconvenience of getting a new one then spending a few hours doing updates and restores (new Mac OS installs update much faster than new Windows OS installs, but it's still a big PITB).

Apple patented an interesting piece of tech a couple of years ago. They digitally coupled the power supply with the laptop so that if the laptop is stolen, it can't be charged with a different charger. Presumably if you supply proper credentials to the OS, you could re-map a new charger to replace a defunct or lost charger. Sounds cool, but who knows when we'll see the tech.

Still, full disk encryption is definitely the best technique if you have to keep local data.

-----
Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it. --Samuel Johnson
RBarryYoung
RBarryYoung
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blandry (9/3/2008)
Can these numbers actually be correct? Your editorial states 10,000 lost each week at the 36 largest airports. That means on average 278 laptops per week, or roughly 40 laptops per day lost at the 36 major airports. As someone who travels a great deal through our country's major airports, I find those numbers questionable. Just sounds a bit too high - but, who knows, maybe so.


Well as of 2005 there were 87,000 flights per day in the U.S., 30,000 of which are commercial. So that is 210,000 flights per week. Even if were only an average of 20 people per flight and only 1 in 4 had laptops, that is still apprx. 1 million laptop-flights per week. So only 1% of them would have to get lost to account for those numbers.

Seems entirely plausible to me.

-- RBarryYoung, (302)375-0451 blog: MovingSQL.com, Twitter: @RBarryYoung
Proactive Performance Solutions, Inc.
"Performance is our middle name."
Wayne West
Wayne West
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Deeper in replies to Schneier's post, it would appear that the numbers are thoroughly discredited. Apparently this "study" was released the same day that Dell announced some new security products for laptops....

"Data doesn't add up on study of missing laptops at U.S. airports"

http://computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9107799&pageNumber=1

"'We consider this study very nonscientific,' said Sari Koshetz, a TSA spokeswoman, who added the study doesn't accurately reflect the number of laptops lost at TSA checkpoints. The TSA says that, nationally, about 75 laptops are reported lost or missing each month. More than 2 million passengers go through TSA checkpoints each day."

Or howabout this?

"Computerworld asked Miami International officials to provide what records they have on lost, missing and stolen laptops. Their data shows that for all of 2007, 68 laptops were reported stolen and 480 were turned in to the airport's lost and found. For its part, the TSA in Miami reported that in the 12-month period that ended May 31, it had received only 38 missing laptop claims."


-----
Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it. --Samuel Johnson
RBarryYoung
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Mind you, I do not know if these numbers are correct. I am just saying that they are reasonably possible. BigGrin

-- RBarryYoung, (302)375-0451 blog: MovingSQL.com, Twitter: @RBarryYoung
Proactive Performance Solutions, Inc.
"Performance is our middle name."
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