The Opportunistic Hacker

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This editorial was originally published on April 14, 2015. It is being republished as Steve is on vacation.

You're sitting in Starbucks, working. You need to use the restroom and you ask the hip, cool looking person sitting coding next to you, with whom you've chatted with for the last hour about C# and SQL, to watch your laptop. You leave and come back to an empty table.

This was a hacker, coding away at their side job to pay a bills in between causing mayhem. They walked away with your laptop, not knowing if you work for a bank or a soy milk manufacturer. The hacker won't know if you have a copy of the production database on your laptop or simple a few .ASPX files that are useless without a VPN connection to your office. Hopefully that can't access other machines from yours.

This is a crime of opportunity, and it happens regularly. Criminals steal laptops from coffee shops, airports, cars, and more. Often just because they can. Some may just wipe the device and sell it, but others may spend some time poking around to see if there is any value in the data on the machine. Or on a connected machine.

Many of us have far too much data on our machines, with many, many saved passwords and connections. We have copies of code, databases, or backups, and losing our machine to a random criminal might be just as damaging to our organization as losing it to a hacker that targets us.

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