Drive Encryption Software: Because Laptops Are Sometimes Stolen While You’re Typing On Them.

It doesn’t happen often, but once in a while you’ll read stories on how laptop computers were stolen right out of a victim’s hands.  Which is why you want to make sure any sensitive data is protected via full disk encryption or some other similar method before you’re relieved of it.  Take Jesse Phoutthaphaphone, from Minneapolis, for example.

Thief Reaches In Through The Window…

Phoutthaphaphone was at home checking out his MySpace page on his laptop computer when some random guy–possibly high or drunk, because, who does this while sober?–reaches in through the window and snatches the computer straight from his hands.  The actual quote on is:

“I was typing and all of the sudden just woosh! I was like oh, what the hell?”

That’s messed up.

Phoutthaphaphone made chase and eventually caught up with the thief, and with the help of a neighbor, pinned him down until the authorities arrived.  Unfortunately, the laptop computer was broken during the scuffle.

This Is Not A Data Breach

From a data security perspective, this was not really a breach.  I mean, there was a breach, but one’d have to be extremely paranoid to believe that any sensitive information Phoutthaphaphone had on his computer could have been stolen.  Sure, it takes only a minute or two, but it’s next to impossible to steal data while one’s literally on the run.

This does not mean, however, that it couldn’t further evolve into an actual data breach.  If the hard drive is still working (“broken computer” can mean so many different things), it would be a cinch to recover any data if encryption software was not used on the laptop.  I hope Phoutthaphaphone didn’t just toss the entire thing in some dumpster somewhere.

What If The Thief Wasn’t Caught?

If the thief hadn’t been caught, and personal information was on that computer, it would have been very easy to steal it.  Indeed, there is a good chance that disk encryption would not have helped in this case.

Disk encryption prevents an unauthorized user from accessing the contents of the hard drive, since doing so is easy, even with password-protection.  For example, if you take out the hard drive on your computer right now, attach a $10 wire to it, and connect it to another computer, you’ve essentially hooked up a portable hard disk to a computer.  If you had this hard drive password-protected, the computer will not ask you for a password.  This is one method of overriding the so-called “password protection” of computers.

Disk encryption software like AlertBoot cannot be overridden in this manner.  Encryption cannot cure all of your data problems, but it can go a long way towards getting rid of them. 

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