Disk Encryption: Stories That Make You Go "HUH?".

I’ve run across two laptop theft stories that made me go “is this for real?” and elicit incredulous snickers.  Yes, the advantages and need for using data encryption programs like AlertBoot are sufficiently highlighted.  But, really, who’d have thunk it?

Juror Steals Laptop from Courthouse

A man was arrested in the jury pool room of the Miami-Dade criminal courthouse for stealing a computer.  The computer was used in court to record sessions and was immediately noticed missing by the videographer.

A quick review of courthouse surveillance cameras led a man with a juror badge.  He was confronted and was quote as allegedly saying:

I was stupid, officer. I should have returned the laptop but I didn’t. I thought about returning it a million times but I didn’t. This is probably going to mess up my marriage and career. [upi.com]

I guess that’s one way to get out of jury duty.

SBUX Client Steals Guy’s Laptop

On November 5, a man (“male black” is how the police report describes him) stole a laptop computer from another man (let’s call him “owner”) at a Starbucks coffee shop.  The entire thing is weird on so many levels.

The man asked the owner of the computer how much it was worth.  Then, he asked the owner if he could check his Facebook account.  The owner said no.

Minutes later, the man [“male black”] walked over to the customer’s [owner] table and unplugged the charger. He began to walk away with the computer when the customer grabbed it and a brief struggle ensued. [patch.com]

Generally, if you’re in the act of stealing something and get caught, you drop and flee.  Maybe you flee with the goods.  But struggle with the owner?  That’s not the end of the weirdness surrounding the story.

An Oak Lawn police officer spotted a man matching the suspect’s description on 95th Street near David’s Bridal Shop. The customer was taken to the scene to identify the man, but wasn’t sure if he was the thief because the man’s sweatshirt did not have the Husky emblem on the front.

Other witnesses who witnessed the theft at Starbucks were brought to the scene. With the exception of one, witnesses weren’t sure if it was the same man that they saw take the customer’s computer. [my emphasis, patch.com]

Are you freakin’ kidding me?  And the kicker:

Police officers and detectives went back to Starbucks to view security video that showed the offender inside the coffee shop. A photo of the offender was taken of the security video images. The images established that the offender on video was not the man police had in custody. He was released without being charged.[my emphasis, patch.com]

Why These Stories?

For a couple of reasons but mostly to highlight the fact that keeping laptops in a secure area or keeping it on your person is not tantamount to security.  It just makes you feel secure, but when push comes to shove (sometimes literally), there’s nothing that’s protecting your data.  If you want to ensure that data does not fall into the wrong hands, you use encryption software, period.

Plenty of experts will tell you that encryption is not a cure-all.  I don’t intent to contradict this observation, as I agree with it; however, that’s a reason to implement tools in addition to encryption and not an excuse for not using it.

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