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Crime Hardware

Ask Slashdot: How To Secure My Life-In-A-Briefcase? 241

Posted by timothy
from the nix-the-self-destruct-button dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I used to travel with a book and some clothes in a backpack, and now my entire life fits into my briefcase. I have a laptop, a tablet, and a cell phone with access to all of my documents through Dropbox, and all the books I own are on my kindle. Aside from having about four grand in electronics, the bag has everything of value that I own. If that bag is stolen while I'm traveling, it will be more trouble than if my apartment burns down (while I'm not in it). What can I do to secure my life-in-a-briefcase?"
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Ask Slashdot: How To Secure My Life-In-A-Briefcase?

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  • $4,000???? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rubycodez (864176) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @02:43PM (#39987601)
    what the heck kind of high-powered applications are you running that require that kind of expensive hardware?
  • by itsme1234 (199680) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @03:15PM (#39987863)

    Kudos to Apple for creating a need that doesn't exist really but what are people doing nowadays carrying both a tablet and laptop?!
    Now I somehow understand the "couch surfing" use for a tablet but really carrying a laptop and a tablet seems to be overkill (and still done by many people).
    You can check something quickly on your phone (which is easier to access than the tablet and most likely it runs precisely the same OS) and for anything serious you still need the laptop. So, why the tablet?
    And it's not some case of "why not if I can afford it". There's a big price to be paid in having an extra device apart from original cost and the extra weight: you need to take care of it, not to lose it, to recharge it, to install stuff on it, debug it if it doesn't work (even sending it back to manufacturer if it fails), etc.
    If you are very young (or very poor) and a little bit geeky you probably welcome anything that works on electricity, from a 1GB USB stick to a nice used laptop. But there is a point where it's just too much and even if it's free it's just not worth it for the extra complexity.

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @04:09PM (#39988337) Homepage Journal

    I am highly mobile and also carry my laptop and tablet in my briefcase. However, I chose the sturdiest, most versatile briefcase [saddlebackleather.com] I could find. At 7.5lbs empty, it weighs nearly 20lbs with my gear in it and is not something a thief could easily run off with. The leather it's comprised of is 1/8" thick and has only 3 seams, and being leather, keeps the contents at a moderate temperature, which is excellent for electronics which may be heat sensitive.

    My laptop, tablet and cell phone are all Apple products, which have the "FInd my Mac" feature allowing the devices to be located whenever they access a network. While not an anti-theft tool, the "Find my iPhone" and "Find my iPad" features have been shown to be quite useful in recovering lost and stolen iDevices. The "Find my Mac" feature is more questionable since most Macbook Pro users with even a hint of a clue will have their user accounts secured, meaning there is likely no way to associate the computer with your iCloud account even if a user logs in via the Guest Account. But if your briefcase is stolen with your iPad in it, the chances are pretty good that you can recover your iPad and briefcase. However, you'd be better off not placing your briefcase in a position where it could be stolen. If I were more paranoid, I would likely buy a GPS or RF transponder to stash in the deep recesses of my briefcase so that I could recover it regardless of net connectivity.

    However, what happens if your briefcase is stolen with your laptop and tablet in it and they can not be recovered? Fortunately, iCloud helps alleviate this -- but only for app data and iTMS purchases. For my Document data and Software projects, I use an AWS Micro instance with Gitolite, which aside from allowing me to share and stage my development projects with other developers, it allows me to sync my entire Documents folder to the server. And being Git, it's easy to add certain files and directories to my .gitignore. To me at least, AWS Micro instance is the ideal remote backup solution since you can image your instance, effectively making a backup of the backup, it's on the cloud, so you can back up from anywhere you have a net connection and a Micro instance is free for the first year, $15.00/month after that, which is pretty cost effective.

    So to sum it up for the tl;dnr crowd:
    Get a hefty, durable briefcase that will both protect your gear and hinder theft
    Buy products that enable tracking in case of loss/theft
    Get a serious backup solution and use it

  • by heypete (60671) <pete@heypete.com> on Sunday May 13, 2012 @05:09PM (#39988861) Homepage

    I had my car broken into once and a bag containing my laptop was stolen.

    I called the cops, told them the make/model/serial numbers of all the various stuff in the bag (including the laptop), they gave me a police report, and I called my insurance. I got a new laptop and my car window repaired.

    I wasn't worried the slightest bit about the contents of the computer as I used TrueCrypt with a secure password to encrypt the entire disk and all the data was backed up to a separate computer at home and a remote backup service. Once I got the new computer it only took about an hour and a half to restore everything.

    If you have valuable information on a computer you should be using whole-disk encryption.

  • by catmistake (814204) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @06:49PM (#39989597) Journal

    Four thousand dollars, you say?

    Many who purchase modern digital technology seem to be oblivious to the fact that it is not any kind of nostalgic keepsake, that almost without exception, it never appreciates in market value, and always depreciates quite rapidly (abiding by some corollary of Moore's Law). If there was $4,000 in cash, solid gold, or any precious metal, or even cocaine, it would be a different story. But the sad fact remains if the stuff in that briefcase is close to two years old (*and nothing in it was made by Apple, which for inscrutable reasons always retains a high resale value), then regardless of what you spent on it, its only worth, at best, half that, and is also replaceable with new for about half of what was spent (for the same level of technology). And the data? Unless one works for a secretive government agency, or Apple, then the data has no resale market value.

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