Friday, August 1, 2008

Laptops can be seized at the US border

New rulings allow the Homeland Security to seize and analyze laptops as folks cross the border. Will this will increase the propensity of folks to encrypt their laptops or reduce it (thereby reducing suspicion)? I don't think businesses will look at this as another reason to encrypt - the majority would rather data not be stolen or lost than think about what a border agent might find on that machine.

For folks who have personal machines (maybe speaking for myself), I am not sure I would care much if a border agent looked through my laptop. But maybe I should - who knows what that information can be used for later?


Erik Heidt said...

I think this is going to lead to fewer people actually having data on their laptops, and to the emergence of on-line data/productivity suites that are centrally hosted. Think of things like google docs or amazons 3S as an early wave of this technology.

As wireless internet services become more and more common why have the data with you at all?

Amazon has no idea what is being stored in it's 3S service, most of the applications on their sample app site include support for data encryption. And to a boarder agent who makes a copy of your hard disk their will be zero data to look at.

BTW, if you encrypt data on the laptop you are setting yourself up for a showdown over discloser of the key with people who can hold you indifferently. This is not the kind of game of chicken that individuals are likely to win.

Also, boarders and cops aside, lost laptops still account for over 50% of data loss events in the US - which may be an even better reason not to have your data reside on the laptop with you...

Cheers, Erik
Art of Information Security

Manu Namboodiri said...

I absolutely agree. I worked for Sun and am a huge fan of the SunRay and thin client architecture. With pervasive connectivity, all data and applications can be streamed down to the end points. Laptops could soon become just a KVM and a WiMax card!