A professor in Brazil has found his research set back by six months due to the theft of a computer from a university building. The initial assumption was that the computer was stolen so that it can be resold, but the professor is not so sure now. While not mentioned, it’s quite apparent that drive encryption software was not used to secure the contents of the stolen computer, which could be a good thing (possibly).
MagicKey Software – Maybe the Magic Is In Backing Up Data
Professor Luís Figueiredo, at the Polytechnic Institute of Guarda (Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestão do Politécnico da Guarda), has been researching and developing since 2004 a software package for disabled people. Dubbed “MagicKey,” it allows disabled people to control computers with the movement of the eyes.
It seems the only backup of the software was done at the beginning of the year which, honestly, is the good professor’s fault. I’m sure he’s a busy man, and he’s got plenty of things on his plate, but he should have periodically made backups.
I mean, what if he didn’t lose his data because his laptop got stolen? What if he had dropped the computer while carrying it around? His research would still be set back by 6 months, and in that case there literally would be no one else to blame but himself.
There are many facets to data security. One of them is preventing its theft so others won’t “share” that data with you (preventing a case of “you have it; they, too, have it”); the other form of data security is ensuring continued access to the data no matter what (i.e., they may or may not have access to it, but you certainly don’t).
Backing up data is the only method of ensuring the second scenario does not take place, especially if one’s laptop gets stolen.
There are signs, however, that Prof. Figuereido’s laptop wasn’t just a random theft. First, there is the fact that the computer was stored in a cabinet at the far end of a corridor with minimal traffic. Indeed, the only reason one might find himself on that corridor is because he has to go to that cabinet.
The second is that other items of value in the vicinity were not stolen. Stored inside the cabinet, right next to the laptop, were a cellular phone and a digital camera.
There is also the fact that a security camera pointing towards the cabinet was broken since April, and couldn’t record images. (This is either a heck of a coincidence or a carefully planned-out theft.)
The professor has made an appeal for the thief to allow him access to his research. He doesn’t really need the laptop back, just his work. Apparently, there is software installed on the stolen laptop that will allow him to make backups remotely.
Of course, this implies there is no encryption software like AlertBoot installed on this particular computer.
Assuming that the computer was not stolen because of the MagicKey software, it may be fortunate that hard disk encryption was not used. On the other hand, it’s a less than ideal situation.
What should have happened: the professor should have encrypted the contents of his laptop and made backups of his work (which also would require encryption.)
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