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Lost in Space


Lost in Space

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Lynn Pettis
Lynn Pettis
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My oldest two daughters (a senior and a freshman) go to a high school where every student is issued a laptop. They have a product installed that will locate a lost laptop within several feet, even if the system is wiped.

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Lynn Pettis

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Keller-795887
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Hmm...perhaps they should install those on the students, as well. BigGrin
David Hibler
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I have read a few similar articles about the number of laptops lost in airports as well as just having them stolen from cafes, cars, etc. The company I work for does software consulting for nonprofit organizations. We travel quite a bit and I convinced my manager (with the help of the IT Manager) that the threat was real enough to encrypt client data. It started with just an encrypted folder on the laptop, but now we have moved to fully encrypting the entire laptop. We also taped our business cards to our laptops in hopes of helping to identify them if they are ever lost.

Of course the big obstacle is still people. I have encrypted everyone's laptop and we have rules that encrypted USB drives must be used to transport any company data between laptops or client computers when out of the office, but I constantly see people plug their personal, unencrypted USB drives into their laptop, copy a file for a client, then not think about it again. I have to nag them to even go remove the file from their USB drive and explain to them that if they forget to do that, we could end up in a news article some day and all be out of jobs because they forgot to delete a payroll report or something off a USB drive they were not supposed to be using in the first place.

I agree that hopefully a thief would see an encrypted drive and just wipe the laptop, but even if they don't and ultimately get to the data, I think at least taking steps to show you protected the data will help out from a business standpoint. I mean really, would you rather read an article in the newspaper saying that your personal info was now in the hands of a computer criminal because they cracked an encrypted laptop your company lost, or the same article that says you left your laptop at the airport, someone turned it on, and well, sorry but someone else now has your info. It was an accident?
Steve Jones
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Sorry for the delay in responding, but great comments.

Mr. Schneier mentions that the numbers might be wrong, and there is some reporting that they are, but when you do the math, I'm not sure they are. It's not a tremendous amount of losses relative to the people going through. I sometimes wonder if airports want to under-report things.

In any case, it's an interesting discussion. I know if I lose my laptop while I'm in Boston this week, I'm probably moving on and ordering a new one when I hit Denver.

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Nadrek
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You can use Truecrypt full (system) disk encryption on Windows partitions, and the built-in LUKS encryption on Linux partitions, both of which work well.

For USB sticks, data written to external hard drives, etc, I use some combination of TrueCrypt, KeePass, 7-zip AES encryption, or dedicated devices. For dedicated devices, I tend to prefer FIPS 140-2 validated devices - having someone other than the vendor validate that at least some flaws are not present is better than just taking a vendor's word for it.
Validated 140-1 and 140-2 cryptographic modules

4GB, 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB USB flash drives with built-in keypads:
http://www.apricorn.com//products/hardware-encrypted-drives/aegis-secure-key.html
FIPS validation #1876, validated to level 3.

500GB and 1TB USB2.0 external hard drives with built-in keypads:
http://www.datalocker.com/products/data-locker-enterprise-20.html
FIPS validation #1504, validated to level 1.
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