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Old July 3rd, 2006, 07:33 PM   #1
bikerdude
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OT..... Securing Laptop Computer Files

Hi,
With all the news about goverment agencys and different buisness companys loosing their laptops or having them stolen, I wonder what I should do to prevent data theft. No, I'm not transporting other peoples bank or credit card info. I do transport to and from work data files that are important to me and my company though. These files are backed up regularly so I won't be in a real bind if the files if lost or stolen. Would a theif be able to cheat my company out of any real money if they got their hands on the files? I doubt it. I still think I should try to be one step ahead of the crooks. If for no other reason than my personal files. I dont want to have to buy one of them fancy IBM laptops with the fingerprint reader. I want something I can add to my existing laptop. I want something that will protect the files through 2 layers. Layer 1 should be hardware device that prevents hard drive from working unless it is plugged in (usb or parallel port). Layer 2 should be a password to prevent booting the machine and or file encription. Is anyone else doing this? Can anyone recommend a device or software package to prevent data theft?
Thanks for reading
BD
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 08:03 PM   #2
geniusintraining
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I have a system bios password and then a network password, if they can get by the bios password then they are very good....but they will also be disappointed that there is absolutely nothing but useless information on it

Any 1/2 *** hacker can get by the network...
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 08:12 PM   #3
monkeyhead
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Your best bet is to simply encrypt your files and use a strong passwords (not based on dictionary words with combos of upper/lower case and numbers) that you change regularly.

If they have physical access to the laptop and really want to get at your data, they can get around all the hardware roadblocks you're proposing by pulling the drive out and mounting it as a slave in another system. Plus bios passwords are usually easily reset with a jumper on the mainboard.
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 08:38 PM   #4
bikerdude
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Hi,

I was just doing some reading over at PCWORLD & they suggest not storing important info on the machine, but instead using a portable flash drive. Turns out these flash drives have fingerprint scanners built in! Sounds like it would work for 1 Gig or less of private data storage. There is a 2 gig unit for sale for $53 bucks. Seagate has a new hard drive in the works (2007) that encripts the entire drive internally. Not sure how that will turn out. Yeah the bios password can be reset by removing the battery for a while. The hard drive can be removed and installed as a slave in another machine also. But an encripted flash drive that requires a finger print and password? Is that an easy hack too? How hard is it to get by the Windows XP Pro file encription? If it's really secure then I'll just stick to that.
BD
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 08:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyhead
Plus bios passwords are usually easily reset with a jumper on the mainboard.
depending on the computer on some you can remove the cmos also...but depending on the computer
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Old July 3rd, 2006, 09:07 PM   #6
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I like the flash drive idea. Without researching it, It comes off as a winner.

I'm not sure how good Windows XP's encryption is, but even crappy encryption makes data retrieval exponentially harder.

I'd be willing to wager that most of the time when a laptop is stolen, it's mainly for selling the hardware. If there are any low hanging fruit or the data is easily accessible, then data theft is an issue. But unless you are looking for something really specific, it's not worth the hassle of breaking the encryption... Just wipe it out, and sell it on e-bay with a fresh install of windows.
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Old July 4th, 2006, 04:12 AM   #7
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I know that the encryption in the USB hard drives with integral fingerprint reader cannot be circumvented by removing the harddrive from the case and installing it in another computer.
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Old July 4th, 2006, 06:07 AM   #8
Ken Moore
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My company uses hard drive encryption on all laptops, the entire hard drive is encrypted. You have to logon to the encryption software before windows starts. Uses Blowfish 192 bit encryption.

Upside is secure data.

Downside: Performace does suffer a minor amount, as everthing is encrypted/decrypted on the fly as the hard drive is accessed.

One of my coworkers had the encryption software become corrupted, and had to send the machine to corporate IT for recovery. They did recover all his data, I think they have a few extra tools from the encryption company. However the recovery tools will not work without the encryption key.

If you forget you password, there is no back door access.
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Old July 9th, 2006, 09:08 PM   #9
dwilson
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The downside of the USB drives is that they aren't as reliable as we'd like. I'm on my 3rd unit in 3 years (name brand, too). I got burnt the first time because I wasn't doing regular backups (pause for heckling from the audience...), I got lucky the second time, and 3rd unit is holding on so far. Stay away from the cheap no-name drives, unless you like hassles. They don't give much warning before total failure.

On the up side, there is a USB unit that provides the encryption key to the computer. Same ideas a hard-drive encryption, but your data is on the hard drive. You don't have both pieces, you don't get access.

Anyway, most people want your hardware, not your data, unless your a narc or NASA or something. So they're gonna trash the drive. That phone-home software (can't remember brand name; phone/pings control center if laptop is connected to phone or Internet)is probably a good bet if you want the satisfaction of bagging the jerk who ripped you off.

Someone walked of with our laptop at work, but the data was on my USB drive. New DELL laptop next week...


DW
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Last edited by dwilson; July 9th, 2006 at 09:13 PM. Reason: speeling
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