Laptop Encryption Software: A Strange Case Of Laptops Stolen Because Of The Data.

Whenever I run across stories of lost or stolen laptops that caused data breaches, it’s quite evident that the portable devices were taken because of what they are: hardware commodities that can be sold easily and anonymously.  The advantages of having full disk encryption like AlertBoot is pretty evident under such circumstances, especially if the computers hold sensitive data.

There are instances, though, where the use of FDE is even more welcome: when laptops are specifically targeted because of who they belong to.  Such stories are rarely found in the media.  However, its rarity doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.

South Africa Lawyers’ Laptops Stolen

According to, laptop computers belonging to advocates (basically, lawyers who appear in court, it sounds like) in Cape Town, South Africa, were stolen on two consecutive days of the weekend.

One office was broken into on Saturday, in late April.  In addition to the laptop computer, memory sticks and backup DVDs were stolen.  The second office was burglarized on the following Sunday.  A laptop was stolen as well as a “toga.”  From the context of the story, this toga appears to be part of an advocate’s dress for court, and not what one would wear while working the floor at Caesars Palace or at a theme party.

How can it be concluded that the laptops were stolen because of who they belonged to?  There were thirty-five advocates’ offices in the office complex, and while the burglarized offices were in the same building, they were on different floors.  However, the advocates who were affected by the thefts — MM Pienaar and De Bruyn — were working on the same case.

It’s not mentioned whether encryption software was used to secure the data.  However, it may be a moot point: cryptographic solutions are used to prevent others from accessing one’s data.  In this case, it wouldn’t be preposterous to think that the aim was to prevent one from accessing one’s own data.  The two advocates lost “everything they were working,” according to, although De Bryun had backups, so not “everything” was lost.

Backups – The Flip Side of the Coin?

It goes without saying but backups are an important part of your data security regimen. Backups may not protect you from a data breach — in fact, stories like these sometimes make me question whether backups couldn’t be one of the leading causes of data breaches — but they’re the only thing that can guarantee the recovery of your data in you’re your laptop’s stolen or lost.

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