Are you traveling to China or Russia for business? Taking a laptop computer or smartphone? You might want to rethink that, according to inforworld.com. If you must, you should “assume government or industry spooks will steal your data and install spyware.” One of the ways to combat this particular sense of paranoia? Laptop encryption – like AlertBoot, which fully encrypts a laptop’s hard drive – among other tips and practices.
China, Russia Frequently Identified as High Risk Areas
“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you” is how Joseph Heller described one of life’s little ironies in Catch-22. And while the book might be a work of fiction, it certainly translates to real life. The paranoia, I mean. An article at inforworld.com shows how:
A traveler’s Android phone automatically updates itself without the consent of the owner at a Chinese hotel.
Another businessman’s BlackBerry phone won’t boot up after his trip to China. Forensic analysis is being conducted on the device.
It is known that hotel personnel will enter guests’ rooms and plant spyware.
The examples run on and on….
Paranoia or reality? Probably a little from column A, a little from column B. Wherever the truth may lie, one thing’s for certain: if you’re taking computing devices overseas, and these contain sensitive information, applying proper protection in the form of encryption software is a good idea. In fact, it’s a good idea even if you’re not going overseas.
(And it’s one of a number that are listed: never leave your laptop alone; take a spare, scrubbed device; be aware of internet connections; and limit remote access to devices).
Data Breaches: They Strike like Dust in Brownian Motion
In other words, there’s really no way to tell when a data breach might strike. For example, perhaps you’ve never lost a laptop in your life, either due to a mistake or theft. But, this is not entirely because you happen to be really conscientious: you may be able to control the former, but the latter is out of your hands.
Having established, then, that a data breach can strike anyone at any time, why would it make more sense to use encryption if you have to travel overseas but not while you’re in your own home country? After all, it’s not as if the western world is immune to “home field” data breaches.
It might be appropriate in the sense that since you’re going into a high risk area, the risks are elevated, and so encryption is necessary. But risk is not independent of time. If you’re in a high risk area for a short time but in a low risk area for a long time, then, the latter might actually present more of a risk.
Think of it this way: what are the chances that you’ll be able to flip a coin and get 10 heads in a row in 30 seconds versus getting 15 heads in a row in a lifetime?
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