According to the Irish independent.ie, a laptop computer belonging to a garda (that is, an Irish National Police personnel) has been found in a brothel in Amsterdam. The short and rather uninformative article is full of puns and fun – and veers off to some data security indiscretions the Gardai have had in the past – but it’s a reminder of why using laptop encryption software like AlertBoot is essential when it comes to devices with sensitive data.
Heart of Gold
The laptop computer, and the bag it came in, was found by a worker at the Amsterdam establishment. She got in touch with the Dutch authorities who contacted their Irish counterparts. The laptop was returned to the Gardai using “a secure postal system.”
It was not mentioned whether the computer itself was secured in anyway but it was expressed that “there are fears that some security may have been compromised due to sensitive data on the computer” (again, laptop disk encryption would have ensured data integrity).
The authorities are currently trying to figure out “how the individual’s bag was found in the brothel,” although the real question is more likely why. For example, something similar to a restaurant’s dining and dashing? Or perhaps things were quite mind-blowing and the garda lost his faculties?
Infantile questions aside and getting down to business, there’s a valid concern on trying to find out how the laptop was found where it was found. For example, the laptop could have been stolen and taken to the brothel by a thief.
And, even if the garda himself was responsible for leaving it behind, let’s not forget that there is minimal stigma in Europe for visiting houses of pleasure, and nothing illegal has taken place. If we were to take morality out of the equation, it wouldn’t be too different from leaving behind a laptop with sensitive data at a McDonald’s.
Managed Encryption to the Rescue
There should be consequences, however, depending on whether the laptop was protected with encryption or not. As history has shown, people will leave things behind by accident. Important things. Sometimes, items are stolen. Important items. So, knowing that you’re going around with a laptop with sensitive data, it would be nearly criminal not to have had it secured.
Especially if (a) your organization has had a history of data breaches, (b) your government basically requires it (although they haven’t codified into actual law), or (c) the situation – losing a laptop – is so critical that Europol gets involved.