Laptop Encryption Software: Colorado City Engineer Computer Stolen While Golfing.

Employees for the city of Brighton, Colorado are being alerted about a laptop and USB disk theft that could compromise their bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, and addresses.  The theft occurred when someone broke into the city’s lead IT engineer’s truck while he played a round of golf at a charity tournament.  And while it was revealed that data encryption software was used on the missing laptop, the city’s being mum on what type of data security was in place for the USB disk, if at all.

Encryption Not A Cure-All For Lack Of Common Sense

The use of full disk encryption for laptops and external portable disks pretty much ensures that access to data by unauthorized people will be prevented in the event of theft.  This is, of course, assuming that a) the owner/user of the laptop didn’t leave a copy of the password attached to the laptop and that b) strong encryption was used.

Seeing how in the above case the laptop belonged to the city’s lead IT engineer, I’d like to assume that the above two conditions were met.  And I’ll assume they were–indeed, the mere presence of encryption software strongly suggests that someone gave some thought to the idea of data security. (Why this was not extended to the USB disk, I don’t know.)

And, if strong encryption was used, then the contents are safe.  Some will claim that encryption can be broken by people who know what they’re doing; however, people with those kinds of skills tend to work for legal entities, such as the NSA.  After all, why run the risk of going to prison when you can have a stable job doing the same thing, and send other people to prison?

So, I’d feel pretty secure if it was my information on the laptop (not so much if it were on the USB disk).

On the other hand, I’m not too crazy about the circumstances under which the thing was stolen.

He arrived at the golf club around 11:30 a.m.  My guess is the actual charity tournament started around noon.  If ESPN is any indication, it means that it’s gonna take this guy around four hours to finish up, plus he may have assorted after-charity events to attend to.  (Indeed, he didn’t make it back to his vehicle until 7:30 p.m., and that’s when he found his truck was broken into.)

In other words, he’s not going to work today.  So, why carry around a work laptop?  If you know you’re not going to use it, don’t carry it around.  Especially if you’ve got sensitive files on it, for goodness sake!  I mean, the data may be protected, but that’s no reason to subject a computer to a higher probability of getting stolen.

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