It has become a ubiquitous sight while traveling. Laptops are everywhere. Tourists bring their laptops to keep in touch with friends and family. Business people, or Road Warriors, need their laptop to keep in touch with the home office, customers, and prospects.
So laptops and portable devices are everywhere.
Laptop Searches: Overview
When at an airport each of us is very vigilant to make sure our laptop is not stolen. I keep my eye on the other end of the X-ray machine very closely to watch my laptop come out and wait for me while I hold my pants up in my sock feet waiting for my belt and shoes to come through also. You feel very vulnerable at a time like that.
Imagine how you would feel if you are subject to the increasing number of laptop searches. Your laptop is seized at a border crossing in order to be searched. That would be a terrible feeling! “Did I encrypt that last confidential file?” “Just how strong is my passphrase for the e-mail encryption?” “What am I going to do if my company’s confidential customer list is compromised?”
Laptop Searches: A very real issue
Situations like that are no longer speculation. The number of laptop searches is increasing, especially at border crossings. Here is an excerpt from a recent article in the New York Times that should make you wonder if you are prepared for the increasing number of laptop searches:
By SUSAN STELLIN Published: September 9, 2013
Newly released documents reveal how the government uses border crossings to seize and examine travelers’ electronic devices instead of obtaining a search warrant to gain access to the data.
The documents detail what until now has been a largely secretive process that enables the government to create a travel alert for a person, who may not be a suspect in an investigation, then detain that individual at a border crossing and confiscate or copy any electronic devices that person is carrying.
To critics, the documents show how the government can subvert Americans’ constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure, but the confiscations have largely been allowed by courts as a tool to battle illegal activities like drug smuggling, child pornography and terrorism.
The documents were turned over to David House, a fund-raiser for the legal defense of Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Pfc. Bradley Manning, as part of a legal settlement with the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. House had sued the agency after his laptop, camera, thumb drive and cellphone were seized when he returned from a trip to Mexico in November 2010. The data from the devices was then examined over seven months.
Although government investigators had questioned Mr. House about his association with Private Manning in the months before his trip to Mexico, he said no one asked to search his computer or mentioned seeking a warrant to do so. After seizing his devices, immigration authorities sent a copy of Mr. House’s data to the Army Criminal Investigation Command, which conducted the detailed search of his files. No evidence of any crime was found, the documents say.
“Americans crossing the border are being searched and their digital media is being seized in the hopes that the government will find something to have them convicted,” Mr. House said. “I think it’s important for business travelers and people who consider themselves politically inclined to know what dangers they now face in a country where they have no real guarantee of privacy at the border.”
Laptop Searches: Q Wealth Analysis
Are you prepared for the increasing number of laptop searches? Most people are not. However, since you are reading the Q Wealth Report, then you are not most people.
You can prepare yourself for just such an occasion as an impromptu search of your laptop. How?
Our sister web site, SecureLaptop.org, has available for purchase a totally secure laptop. The totally secure laptop has at its core AES-256 encryption of your most critical data. The only way to unlock the data is with a USB key that is electronically mated to the totally secure laptop. No USB key, then virtually no way to get access to the data.
However, our friends at SecureLaptop.org have created an option that takes the encryption one step further. The option is called “plausible deniability”. This feature allows airport security (or others) to think you have a Windows laptop and not a totally secure laptop. When asked for a password, you give them the Windows password and they do not know about the encrypted portion of the laptop. For your daily use you would use the USB key we provide you so that the machine starts in the encrypted mode. This option is useful for those who do a lot of traveling to countries that have very strict privacy laws.
The totally secure laptop is based on Debian Linux which is arguably the most secure version of Linux. There is a learning curve for Debian and the Open Source applications available. For those readers that like their Mac laptops, SecureLaptop.org has also developed a process to take an existing Mac laptop and secure it. This raises the Mac laptop to nearly the same level as a totally secure laptop. Software is provided to accomplish ‘plausible deniability’ in a way that is extremely difficult to detect by a computer forensic analyst. For more information please contact SecureLaptop.org at your earliest convenience.
Laptop Searches: Summary
So, are you prepared for the increasing number of laptop searches? It can happen. Use the foresight you are showing by reading the Q Wealth Report to make a contingency plan for such a search. Investigate the totally secure laptop offered by our sister web site, SecureLaptop.org and the new offering to secure an existing Mac laptop or desktop.
Prepare yourself now for when, not if, your laptop is searched.