Laptop Encryption: Stolen Laptop Leads To Second Burglary.

I ran across a story that, as far as I know, is the first of its kind: proof that laptop thieves don’t just blast away the current information on a stolen laptop and sell it as quickly as possible.  Oh, no.  They’re willing to see what they can find on the laptop, which is why some kind of deterrence solution, like AlertBoot’s laptop encryption software is necessary.

Home Burglarized.  Vacation Home Also Burglarized

According to the, two men were arrested for burglarizing a home – a laptop computer was stolen, presumably among other items – and then burglarizing a second home that belonged to the owners of the first home.

Investigators believe that information contained in the victim’s laptop computer, taken in the first burglary, directed the suspects to the victim’s vacation home. Both homes were ransacked, and the victims reported the theft of more than $50,000 in personnel property, including electronics, furniture, fine art and sterling silver. Sheriff’s officials said several thousand dollars [sic] worth of property were recovered.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened here: once the laptop was stolen from the first home, the two perpetrators took a gander at the computer’s content.  Perhaps there was an electronic address book that listed the second home’s address.  Perhaps there were vacation photos and these were tagged with GPS coordinates, which could be looked up in Google Maps.  Maybe there was an accounting software that showed utility bills for two locations.

Who knows?  Whatever the actual details might be, the thieves didn’t just “go for the hardware” and decide to reformat the laptop’s disk and put the hotware on Craigslist, which is what many people assume is what happens.

But then again, why would people assume that?  I never understood it.  The assumption you’re supposed to make, from a security perspective, is the worst-case scenario.  Plus, remember, the computer as we know it – monitor, computer body, keyboard, and mouse – has been around for over 30 years.  Of those, the internet has existed as a popular medium for, say, fifteen years.

Are you honestly telling me that under these circumstances, you’re willing to believe that thieves won’t boot up your stolen computer and take a look at what they can find?

I can’t emphasize it enough: if you store any sensitive data on a digital medium, you really should use encryption software to secure it.

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