* Posts by ExSophist

5 posts • joined 14 Aug 2008

Police told to use Wikipedia for court preparation


Wikipedia is starting point...not the authority

This is the same judicial system ignorance that had a district judge tossing out a case because the issue at hand had been "raised, vetted, blogged, texted, twittered, and otherwise massaged by America's vigilant citizenry"

Wikipedia unfortunately benefits from the word 'encyclopedia' which people have historically trusted because information entered into a published encyclopedia, such as Encyclopedia Brittanica, has been researched and fact-checked by professionals. Wikipedia is merely self-checked by the users, and in some cases by companies and people with a vested interest in making the "facts" portray them in a favorable light. It is also susceptible to people entering completely false information.

Were I a judge and an attorney or witness told me their case used information that came from Wikipedia I'd

1) laugh, and

2) tell them to get some credible experts, and

3) sanction them for wasting the court's valuable time.


PC repair techs police dangerous picture law


Use Encryption And Beware Lying Techs

It is a good practice to use very strong encryption software for all your personal data. That way, if the computer is lost or stolen your data remain secure.

Encryption also prevents unauthorized casual viewing of your personal data whether by accident or by a PC repair person.

If they can see pictures, then they can see bank statements, credit card information, phone contact numbers, etc.

Use encryption. There are some very good FREE encryption programs available for Windows and Mac computers.

Pray also that you never give your PC to a repair person who would put incriminating material on your computer if you upset or argue with them (much as some food servers have been reported to contaminate customers' food when customers upset them, are the 'wrong' race, etc)

There are also people who commit crimes and then plant false evidence in order to play the 'hero' and report 'criminals' to the police. Hopefully the legal system can sort things out but likely will be too late to save one's reputation or keep one from having to pay legal fees.


GPS tracking slapped on laptop recovery service


Computrace Firmware - Impact On or Problems with Installing A Preferred OS?

A few more technical/sales questions.

Does this embedded hardware technology also mean that a person can no longer install an Operating System (OS) of their choice? Will it in fact prevent a person later changing from the provided OS and loading any OS except a "special" (and hence expensive) OS?

Is this one more method whereby Microsoft/Windows achieves what is called marketing "Lock-in"? Look this term up on Wikipedia if you don't know what it means. It's a powerful corporate tool to ensure revenues and remove customer choice.

For example, what happens to the person who decides they want to install some specific free version of Linux on the Computrace embedded firmware computer? Would it even be possible.? <i>Assuming it's even available</i>, will they have to purchase some licensed bit of code and pay for some unwanted service to compile into their OS just to make the entire computer work?

What additional CPU and memory resources does this extra hardware require? Will it degrade the stability of Windows? As functionality that is <b>not</b> required to use the computer, this hardware seems to present an additional and un-necessary risk.

I think I'd prefer to rely on strong encryption and just either write-off the equipment loss or apply an insurance claim, and not even bother with recovery of the asset.

It would likely cost a <b>LOT</b> more in my time and employee wages to pursue recovery of the computer (dealing with the retrieval company, the police, etc) than it would to just replace the asset and re-load the encrypted data from backup.

But, if the computer manufacturers take these <b>choices</b> out of my hands, it's all moot anyway.


Privacy Concern -- and Faraday Pouch/Cage

So this firmware is embedded in EVERY one of certain model laptops?

Is each computer clearly labeled so the customer can decide to NOT purchase one of these computers?

Can the customer ask to have the firmware permanently disabled (e.g. a programmable fusible link) so that NO ONE can enable it from a remote location at some time in the future? What if the computer is sold to someone else...can that second purchaser have the embedded technology permanently disabled on demand?

ONE scenario I can imagine is the Computrace technology being abused by hackers or terrorists that gain access to Computrace data (by whatever means**) and then maliciously remotely delete data from hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of users laptops.

As far as I'm concerned, from a privacy standpoint this is also as bad as or possibly worse than having GPS tracking in your phone or RFID modules in your clothing, license plates, or other products. (search on "RFID" and "Katherine Albrecht" for related privacy info). The potential for corporate or governmental abuse is high.

**Including a lost or stolen laptop with customer data...read the recent "TheRegister" article on this re: TSA's "Clear" program laptop "disappearance", or how hackers recently infiltrated the TDameritrade client database.


As for defeating the technology on a temporary basis, a simple Faraday construct (pouch, netting, cage, etc) is all that would be required to prevent GPS from working. Some buildings are also constructed to prevent RF from entering/exiting thru walls, ceilings, and even windows. It would be a trivial and cheap exercise for "thieves" to setup a secure room in which GPS would not work.


Unencrypted traveler data laptop disappears then reappears


Response to Aitor - Compression v. Encryption

Ref: post by "Aitor"

Posted Wednesday 6th August 2008 07:58 GMT

It is NOT a choice between encryption and compression. That is an un-knowledgeable excuse.

You can do both quite easily and securely without significant storage overhead with any number of programs on multiple platforms. E.G. Check out TrueCrypt, a free open-source program that lets you transparently encrypt/decrypt at disk, partition, or file level.

I've no personal or financial interest in any company, product, etc. that may be described in this post.



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