The InfoSec Blog

2006: The Year of the laptop … stolen that is

Posted by Anton Aylward

When did you last secure your laptop?

The last year seems to have been a bumper one for stolen laptops, especially ones stolen from high profile companies and which contian plenty of personal information.

Many of the companies concerned seem to think that having passowrd proetction is adequate. Others think that because the laptop was stolen "for the hardware" and not for the information on it, all is OK. A couple think that firing the person who was using the laptop makes everythng OK.

"If thieves read the newspaper, they can readily figure out that they have got more than just a piece of hardware."

Well, I don't think so.

Will things change?

At the very least, the publicity has made it clear to theives that tTell me about when you saved the company a million dollars. Or when you successfully managed the million dollar project to deployment, on schedule and on budget. The infomation on the laptop is more valuable than the hardware. This year, 2007, any thief with any sense will sell the data and throw away the laptop. Perhaps on a rubish tip - oh, I see one did that 🙂

Here is a summary of some news articles from 2006

Irony

Posted by Anton Aylward

Headline: FTC attorney's laptops stolen
http://www.presstelegram.com/business/ci_3969575

The government agency charged with fighting identity theft said Thursday it had lost two government laptops containing sensitive personal data, the latest in a series of breaches encompassing millions of people.

Can you spell "Irony"?
This goes a bit beyond the bare-faced incompetence that we've grown used to
and come to treat as the new security baseline at the government.

And here's another chunk of Irony:

Many of the people whose data were compromised were being investigated for possible fraud and
identity theft, said Joel Winston, associate director of the FTC's Division of Privacy and Identity Theft Protection.

But what caught my attention in this article was the following:

On Thursday, a House panel was cautioned that credit monitoring alone may not be enough to protect Americans whose names, birth dates and Social Security numbers were compromised at the hands of the government.

During the House hearing Thursday, Mike Cook, a co-founder of a company specializing in data breaches, said identity-theft victims typically don't become aware they've been hurt until six months after their data was stolen, when creditors come calling for money owed.

At that point, it's likely the thieves will have moved on having made just a few purchases so they don't attract notice and started using another victim's information.

As a result, a credit monitoring service would raise a red flag after it was too late, Cook said.

So what's the real use of this credit monitoring that the companies are handing out in the aftermath of privacy failures if its not going to protect you? "Oh, you've had your bank account emptied, your house sold, and your wife has received a divorce notice. And by the way, your credit is non existent but that may be due compute hackers...."

 

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