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

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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  • by mrvan ( 973822 ) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @02:35PM (#39987539)

    What is the problem you want to secure yourself against? The loss of 4k$? The loss of your data? The theft of your data?

    The 4k$ cannot be secured other than through old fashioned don't let them steal it and/or (travel) insurance

    The loss of your data is secured by diligent backing up, but if you rely on 'cloud' services that should be fine (I am sure that Amazon has some way of redownloading your books if your kindle is lost, no? DropBox certainly works as a backup plan). Make sure that the required configuration / passwords etc are somewhere.

    The theft of your data is also not so difficult. DropBox copies the files locally, but if you just encrypt the whole drive that is works on you should be fine. If your device (tablet/cell phone) doesn't support that, and you fear theft, don't use dropbox on it or get a better device.

  • by lowy ( 91366 ) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @02:36PM (#39987551) Homepage

    Get a rider on your home insurance policy that covers replacement of the hardware.

    Automate regular backups to the Internet to protect your software.

    Encrypt your data to protect your passwords, identity and privacy.

    Am I missing anything?

  • Re:Don't do this! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JimDarkmagic ( 1339257 ) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @02:41PM (#39987587)

    Perhaps the handcuff is extreme, but don't leave it or its contents unattended. Use one hand at the urinal (if applicable), saving the other to hold the briefcase. Use stalls with walls on two or more adjacent sides, keep briefcase on side of toilet with wall. Don't leave it on the convenient little shelf by the door in the bathroom (think I've seen a lot of dumb stuff in the bathroom?) Don't leave the stuff on the table as you walk across a huge room get more food/coffee.

    Also, insurance for hardware, encryption for data. IOS has full disk encryption and Android might; truecrypt is cheap and easy to use and each major OS has its own native encryption solution.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @02:45PM (#39987617) Journal
    Contemporary fitness-use heart rate monitors with some flavor of very low power wireless connection are pretty cheap. One of those, plus a suitably sized explosive device, will allow you to ensure that your briefcase stays with you at all times. Or else. If you are feeling polite, scale to ensure the destruction of the contents. If not, scale to ensure the destruction of the would-be new owner of the briefcase.

    (In all seriousness, though, there really isn't too much that one can do to protect small luggage. There are a few mostly-obvious behavioral tips, don't put it down behind your chair where you can't see it, don't leave it in the cab, try to avoid using bags that have giant steal-me logos advertising the electronics within, etc. but that is about it. Your main focus should be on two things:

    1. If the bag falls into the possession of somebody else, have you taken measure to ensure that they can't get data access? Hardware can be insured, and really isn't all that expensive in the grand scheme; but if somebody has both your data and the oh-so-conveniently-stored-locally credentials for your 'cloud backup' you have a problem... 2. Backups, do you have them? Bags get lost, bags get stolen, bags get crunched by luggage handlers. If you can't restore yourself to what you had in the bag if I were to hand you equivalent-or-newer models of the laptop, tablet, and phone and internet access, you aren't prepared. If you can, then you are.)
  • Easy solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @02:48PM (#39987641)
    Just spend about $600 and put a .45 on your hip. Should be perfectly secure against theft then, unless you leave your briefcase somewhere.
  • Redundancy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <<ten.tsacmoc> <ta> <yburxyno>> on Sunday May 13, 2012 @03:28PM (#39987931)

    First thought, you need a redundant provider to dropbox. Get Amazon or another provider to also sync your data. You sound like a road warrior and having been a road warrior your data is your life. Second thought, how are you going to survive a complete loss of your briefcase on the road? What have you done to encrypt your data? What have you done to have your devices home phone so that you can try to have police recover them?

    You can replace tools like a phone or laptop, what is your gameplan to do so? Do you have credit capacity to replace everything on the spot? Insurance is a pain and can take weeks in a best case scenario to send a check. How are you going to document tat you secured your belongings in your room? If you can't prove use of a cable or the like and a police report no insurance company will replace your belongings?

    Where is your password vault? It should not be in your briefcase?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2012 @03:34PM (#39987975)

    In some cases, the most dangerous aspect of having one's computer stolen is that it's often configured to grant access to important systems. What if an attacker deletes your cloud storage, changes your email password or creates a backdoor account to your VPN? In other words, the physical theft enables identity theft. How dangerous is that going to be?

  • Re:Don't do this! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) <> on Sunday May 13, 2012 @10:53PM (#39991095) Homepage Journal

        Actually, there have been many reports of someone "accidentally" walking off with someone elses stuff. Laptops are easy. Pick it up, slip it in your bag, and keep moving. A quick Google search [] shows all kinds of numbers being thrown around. It's more than 1, less than 1 million.

        When I refuse to go through the "microwave" (as the GP said), they pull me aside for the patdown. I keep an eye on my stuff until they're finally ready for me. I've had to ask security on multiple instances to secure *my* property, so no one else "accidentally" takes it. On very rare occasions did they guess what all of my property was.

        I think it's nuts. They pretend it's a high security environment, where anyone (and everyone) might be a terrorist. Yet, they go with the honor system for collecting your property from the x-ray conveyor belt, and at baggage claim. I've only been through a few airports (Las Vegas, and a few international destinations) that check the baggage claim ticket to the baggage you're taking. I don't even know if they do it as policy, or because someone was bored and wanted to harass travelers.

If you suspect a man, don't employ him.