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

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the nix-the-self-destruct-button dept.

Crime 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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helpful suggestion (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987491)

Change your briefcase from 12345...

Re:helpful suggestion (5, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987529)

Four thousand dollars, you say?

Remind me again, where do you live and what time do you leave each morning?

Re:helpful suggestion (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987647)

Won't do you any good if the OP carries his stuff with him. You need to know which dark alleys he walks through.

Re:helpful suggestion (1)

Xenx (2211586) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987795)

It was stated apart from the $4000 in electronics, it was in the briefcase. Thus, the sweet sweet payday is sitting back at the apartment.

Re:helpful suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987859)

I'm probably missing something but I don't get the $4000 connection. The 12345 refers to his apparent briefcase combination.

Don't do this! (5, Funny)

black6host (469985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987493)

Whatever you do don't handcuff your briefcase to your hand. At least not if you value your hand :)

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

JimDarkmagic (1339257) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

lojack it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987629)

You could always lojack it ;)

Re:Don't do this! (5, Funny) (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987907)

Duh. You hire three ninjas and give each of them a briefcase. Only one is the real briefcase. The others are full of ninja-style weapons.

If you really trust dropbox (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987513)

then all you need to do is insure the physical items and ensure that anyone stealing them would be unable to get information of value.

Personally I don't trust the internet that much.

Re:If you really trust dropbox (2)

xeoron (639412) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987897)

How about leaving your hardware behind and accessing your files remotely? Make use of SSH, a service like LogMeIn, or use the cloud with strong encryption with iTwin [] .

Re:If you really trust dropbox (1)

objective-c (2637831) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987981)

That works to an extend, but slow internet access on the road limits that. Especially for something like remote desktop. Sometimes internet access can go down for a few hours or the whole night too and then it's still nice to be able to work on your stuff. That's why automatic remote backup solution, with full drive encryption, is better choice.

Re:If you really trust dropbox (2)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988267)

Especially for something like remote desktop.

Depends what you're using for remote desktop... I've been able to run a browser or a word processor through NX/SSH on a laptop wirelessly tethered to a cell phone with 3G turned off... 115kbit/s is more than enough bandwidth to handle a word processor or a spreadsheet when you're using the right protocols. VNC, particularly VNC with compression turned off, or worse, RDP6 or earlier, however, and you'll never get anything done.

My father used to do full desktop remote access over a 28.800 dialup connection, when I was in high school, using a piece of software called ReachOut, by Stac, Inc. It wasn't the very high resolution desktops that we have now, but that was enough for an 800x600 display on an NT4 client, and was quite usable.

Of course, if you have no Internet access at all, you're still screwed.

Wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987517)

This is just stupid.

Re:Wow (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987779)

We're assuming that you're referring to your own post.

Prey (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987519)

Of course you should take as many steps as possible to ensure you DON'T need to do damage control, but if you, Prey [] or something like it could be invaluable.

Re:Prey (2)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987645)

Prey isn't very useful if the device doesn't have true GPS built in, so scratch it for a laptop and some tablets. Cell phones indoors to some degree as well. "Good news, we've narrowed down your stolen phone. It's somewhere indoors in a 1000 meter radius of cell tower XYZ"

Plus, how intelligent is your average thief? If I was going to steal a laptop/tablet/cell phone, the very first thing I'm going to do is turn it off and/or remove the battery, rendering Prey and the like useless. The 2nd thing I'm going to do is wipe/reformat the device the first chance I can safely do so, rendering Prey and the like uninstalled.

Re:Prey (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987709)

"how intelligent is your average thief?" and "[...] I'm going to do is wipe/reformat [...]"

Am I the only one who find this ironic? :p

Re:Prey (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988087)

"Prey isn't very useful if the device doesn't have true GPS built in, so scratch it for a laptop and some tablets."

Location services are FAR better than that these days. My own router is located on the map within a few yards of its actual location, and that's using WiFi only. Cell towers are less useful of course, but your laptop would probably be pinpointed within 10s of yards at most.

If I was going to steal a laptop/tablet/cell phone, the very first thing I'm going to do is turn it off and/or remove the battery, rendering Prey and the like useless.

Only for as long as it's turned off. As soon as it's rebooted, Prey is back on the job, sending pictures of the user (taken with the webcam) and screenshots. I've tested it on my own laptop, and it works very well.

And as another responder replied, if the criminal is not too smart they aren't going to be wiping the hard drive. But even more than that: they're usually too lazy, or in too much of a hurry. They want a working phone or computer they can use or sell NOW, not something they will have to spend days overhauling first.

Re:Prey (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988785)

And as another responder replied, if the criminal is not too smart they aren't going to be wiping the hard drive. But even more than that: they're usually too lazy, or in too much of a hurry. They want a working phone or computer they can use or sell

Emphasis mine.

Anecdotally, our university will watch for MAC addresses of stolen computer equipment. According to one of the network guys, they've never had a hit. The equipment is sold on ebay before it is ever turned on on campus.

What blows my mind is that no one ever buys it and then takes it to campus.

troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987525)

So, the editors are trolling us now?

Re:troll (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987939)


what is the problem you want to secure against? (4, Insightful)

mrvan (973822) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:what is the problem you want to secure against? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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:what is the problem you want to secure against? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988653)

He can always get a laptop with a smartcard reader and use it as a key to encrypt his files. Then just take the smartcard with him everywhere.

Insurance, Backups, Encryption (5, Insightful)

lowy (91366) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987551)

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:Insurance, Backups, Encryption (1)

objective-c (2637831) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987751)

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

Am I missing anything?

Maybe that he doesn't have a 'home'. Travel insurance is also hard to get if you live traveling for a long time.

I do the same and it's awesome.

Re:Insurance, Backups, Encryption (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988107)

Travel insurance is available from vending machines at airports. It is not difficult to get at all.

Re:Insurance, Backups, Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987835)

Don't save your passwords anywhere, web-browsers, text file, etc... Though i do have to admit i am guilty of having a password file, but i keep it encrypted with a high grade encryption, but that still doesn't excuse it's existence.

Re:Insurance, Backups, Encryption (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988025)

Given his entire life is 4k worth of hardware, it isn't clear to me that he does or can afford insurance. But he really didn't make either his short or long term budget for this clear, which makes it hard to make any recommendation.

Re:Insurance, Backups, Encryption (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988703)

There's a new trend of well-off people being proud in having very little stuff and essentially renting what they need (hotels, restaurants, etc).

Re:Insurance, Backups, Encryption (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988255)

Am I missing anything?

A dry run! Any kind of backup or redundancy can prove to be pretty much useless if you never test it.

The main thing I worry about is being out exploring somewhere and my phone dies leaving me without GPS. Sure, I could wait until nightfall and navigate by the stars, but what if it's raining?

After a few dry runs of worst case scenarios like that, it should be pretty obvious what kind of information you want to replicate elsewhere (on a laptop, on a phone, in a cloud service, printed out / tattooed on your person). Just go through each set of gear (and then the whole briefcase) and work out what you'd do if it suddenly fell into a swift river.

Options (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987559)

Blackberry phone with the remote kill enabled. Someone you really trust with the necessary information to use it. When travelling, carry cheap spare phone with PAYG in car boot.

Cheap laptop for travelling, good desktops at home and work, all synced via Dropbox, office desktop with Citrix. Also, spare laptop kept at the office and booted periodically to get updates.

What's the tablet? Is its data synced?

Kindle - can't help there.

Re:Options (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987711)

Doesn't Dropbox store unencrypted?

Consider this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987571)

The kindle is replaceable from a backup on your harddrive, and so is your cell phone (with something like iCloud to remote wipe).
The only substantial issue that you have is the harddrive in the laptop, which is a pretty easy fix. Strap it to your body.

No, really. If you're actually paranoid about someone stealing your information, just get an external laptop harddrive that you can boot from, and just use that for the whole system. Seems like a reasonable solution to me. I'd also keep my laptop on me as well.

If it can be separated from you, that means you don't have positive control over it at all times.

Go Dropbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987581)

with access to all of my documents through Dropbox

Yeah, I noticed.

This isn't so hard, is it? (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987589)

Some suggestions:

1) Back up your stuff. To the cloud, if you expect to write a lot on your travels and/or expect to be able to replace and reprovision stolen devices.
2) Keep details of your account credentials somewhere separate, where you can get to them easily via the web. Properly secured, of course. Use an online password vault or encrypted cloud data store that lets you access files via the web. Also store details of the devices and SIM cards themselves, as well as URLs or phone numbers of the services used to remote wipe/block those devices (if applicable). If your stuff is stolen, you'll want to be able to take quick action and have everything blocked.
3) Properly secure the devices themselves, of course. Use screen locks / pin codes, and set any password vault software so that you have to key in the pass-phrase every time you use it (or per session).
4) If you travel, it helps if you have a credit card with a high enough limit to replace your devices, if you need replacements right away.
5) Check with your cell provider if you can get a separate (spare) SIM, or how you would go about getting a stolen SIM replaced and delivered to your address away from home. Do this before you travel.

Plan A (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987595)

Passwords and insurance. And strippers. When your shit gets stolen, file a claim and console yourself with the strippers.

Re:Plan A (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988507)

Great idea! In fact, forget about the passwords and the insurance.

$4,000???? (1, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987601)

what the heck kind of high-powered applications are you running that require that kind of expensive hardware?

Re:$4,000???? (0)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987655)

and moreover, if that really is your life, you really need to "get a life."

Re:$4,000???? (2)

objective-c (2637831) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987721)

But that IS living. I do the same - everything I own fits in a bag and laptop case. I travel around the world, seeing places, hanging around, and generally living while traveling. I have been doing this for 3-4 years and have had tons of great experiences and girlfriends around the world. Maybe some day I see a place where to settle down.

Oh yeah, I still like to do some gaming so I have an expensive laptop for that.

Re:$4,000???? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988127)

fine, I've been around the globe for 20 years too. and I didn't even take a laptop. even the third world countries have internet cafes. I didn't travel to stare at a screen......

Re:$4,000???? (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988817)

I'm a little on the paranoid side. I don't enter passwords into systems I don't trust. I might not travel to stare at a screen, but that doesn't mean that I don't want to check my e-mail while I'm not at home.

Re:$4,000???? (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987715)

Now my idea of a high tech nomad *cough*hipster bum*cough* might be somewhat stereotypical but a macbook pro and an ipad will account for 80% of that $4000.

Re:$4,000???? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988123)

"what the heck kind of high-powered applications are you running that require that kind of expensive hardware?"

My Macbook Pro, which I use routinely for work, was about $3000 new. Toss in a good tablet and smartphone, and you can top $4000 very easily.

Re:$4,000???? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988195)

sure, and I can put $10,000 worth of gear in a backpack. but when I travel I don't, cheap, durable, low performance is good enough.

Re:$4,000???? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988209)

"sure, and I can put $10,000 worth of gear in a backpack. but when I travel I don't, cheap, durable, low performance is good enough."

Apparently this person travels a lot and doesn't want to (or has reason not to) leave his hardware at home. I chose not to second-guess his motives.

Backup (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987607)

Seriously, if it's that important, encrypt it and back it up in a dozen places.

A dead man's switch, obviously... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987617)

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.)

Re:A dead man's switch, obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39988731)

With that approach it is vital to remember to recharge the heart rate monitor regularly. Also make sure you don't get entangled in a faraday cage.

carry 2 briefcases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987627)

Carry 2 briefcases duh.
If you lose 1, you only lose half your stuff.

Pelican 1490 (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987637)

I travel around the world, and this is the best case I have ever used. Well, my Pelican 1514 is a close second. :)

It is waterproof, you can drop it or impact it and you don't need to worry about it, and it just works.

You can also lock it, or lock it to something (in your apt when you are away). Don't lock it someplace at an airport and leave...

I envy you in that you can fit everything in one case, I am trying to get down to one small car load with about 5-6 cases.

Briefcase Password (2)

thexile (1058552) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987639)

Just remember to set your briefcase password to "12345"!

Easy solution (1, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Easy solution (4, Informative)

Nitewing98 (308560) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987663)

Kind of hard to get through airport security with a .45 on your person. Just sayin'.

Re:Easy solution (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987703)

No, the .45 goes in your checked luggage. If you're going on a business trip, I doubt you go with just a briefcase unless you can fit clothes in there. Anyone who get's their briefcase stolen in an airport shouldn't be carrying around 4 grand worth of electronics on them anyway.

Re:Easy solution (0)

objective-c (2637831) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987787)

It's not allowed to put guns in your checked luggage.

Re:Easy solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987811)

It is in the U.S.

Re:Easy solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987829)

it *absolutely* is you just have to declare that it is there and sign the appropriate documentation

Re:Easy solution (1)

DontScotty (978874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987837)


It's not allowed to FAIL TO DECLARE that you have firearms in your checked luggage. []

Failure to adhere to the following regulations will preclude passengers from traveling with firearms, ammunitions or firearm parts:

        Travelers must declare all firearms to the airline during the ticket counter check-in process.
        The firearm must be unloaded.
        The firearm must be in a hard-sided container.
        The container must be locked. A locked container is defined as one that completely secures the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be pulled open with little effort cannot be brought aboard the aircraft.
        If firearms are not properly declared or packaged, TSA will provide the bag to law enforcement for resolution with the airline. If the issue is resolved, law enforcement will release the bag to TSA so screening may be completed.
        TSA must resolve all alarms of checked luggage. If a locked container containing a firearm alarms, TSA will contact the airline, who will make a reasonable attempt to contact the owner and advise the passenger to go to the screening location. If contact is not made, the container will not be placed on the aircraft.
        If a locked container alarms during screening and is not marked as containing a declared firearm, TSA will cut the lock in order to resolve the alarm.
        Travelers should remain in the area designated by the aircraft operator or TSA representative to take the key back after the container is cleared for transportation.
        Travelers must securely pack any ammunition in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.
        Firearm magazines and ammunition clips must be securely boxed or included within a hard-sided case containing an unloaded firearm.
        Small arms ammunition, including ammunition not exceeding .75 caliber for a rifle or pistol and shotgun shells of any gauge, may be carried in the same hard-sided case as the firearm, as long as it follows the packing guidelines described above.
        TSA prohibits black powder or percussion caps used with black-powder.

Re:Easy solution (1)

objective-c (2637831) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987877)

How do you know he travels only inside U.S., or in U.S. at all? I know for a fact that it's not allowed to carry guns in most international flights, if not in all. There's always announcements about those on airports, and you can't even declare them.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987881)

yes it is, just unloaded and you have to declare it. At least in the USA.

Re:Easy solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987923)

Kind of hard to get through airport security with a .45 on your person. Just sayin'.

Not really.

If the OP is in the US, just have a nail file, nail clippers, and 4 oz. of water on you. The way the TSA works, it will find those things it will completely miss the loaded weapon.

Re:Easy solution (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988745)

Either you're aware of your surroundings or you're not.

If you are, then there are only a few situations where the briefcase could walk away, many of which the .45 wouldn't help with.

If you're not, then absolutely do not carry a deadly weapon.

guess you didn't think of a backup (0)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987657)

If your books are DRM free then make a copy and put it in a safe place (perhaps in a safe deposit box or with a friend). If you supported DRM technology when you bought the books, then you agreed to and deserve what will happen when they are eventually lost.

crucial question (1)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987661)

this is the main reason, why I do not have important things only on the laptop, nor use cloud services. Both are vulnerable. The former since a laptop can so easily disappear, the later because the company could go belly up or lose the data. Backing up on hard drives and store regularly encrypted versions in a safe place looks still like the best option. My personal backup has not changed since decades: sync regularly (via cron scripts) between multiple desktop machines at multiple locations, retire old harddrives regularly and have physical harddrive backups at multiple locations too which are not overwrritten. (Adding a mac desktop in the sync loop allows to use time machine also when primarily working in linux). I also work more and more on a laptop but always sync before and after using it for some work. Yes, it is a bit expensive but the financial pain pales when comparing to the agony to lose old work.

Take no prisoners (1)

cognoscentus (1628459) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987675)

Sounds like you need smart underwear [] . Of course, this security technology is vulnerable to social engineering.

Actually insightful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987683)

Get a few evil looking stickers with text like "don't try to steal, can be tracked via gps".

Use a backpack (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987693)

That way it's strapped to you so you don't have to set it down to use your hands (e.g. when paying a cashier, peeing in the urinal, defending yourself, etc). Aside from that make sure your data is encrypted, backed up, and that your electronics are insured.

Password protection is not enough. If someone has access to your hardware, encryption is the best protection you have.

Remote location and data wipe features on your notebook and phone will help too.

Basics are straightforward (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987697)

As mentioned above, the answer depends on what you are trying to secure against.

For the laptop:
* Data loss: I would combine an always running network backup (CrashPlan is my favorite) with a periodic backup to an external hard drive (Time Machine, or also CrashPlan). Dropbox is not really good enough for this, although it mitigates some of the problem.

* Data theft: There is no substitute for the simplicity of full-disk encryption (TrueCrypt, PGP Whole Disk Encryption, or the newer FileVault in OS X Lion). There is some subtlety regarding key management when your laptop is asleep, although simply requiring a screensaver password will foil most unsophisticated thieves who will try to reboot the laptop to bypass it. A better approach, though less convenient, is to simply shut down your laptop when carrying it through high-theft situations.

For the tablet and cell phone:
* Data loss: If you have iPhone/iPad, then iTunes backups cover you here (and these are in turn protected by your laptop backup strategy). I have no idea what are good solutions for Android.

* Data theft: This is more tricky. Here you want a passcode to unlock the phone and some kind of remote wipe utility. The assumption is that you will notice fairly quickly that your phone is gone and can wipe it. (In practice, this might not be so easy if your laptop and phone are stolen at the same time.) The "Find My iPhone" feature lets you remotely wipe the phone, and I assume there are equivalent Android tools, although a full wipe might require a rooted phone.

This is good enough for the generic traveller trying to guard against opportunistic thieves who are primarily interested in stolen hardware for resale, and so won't try very hard to extract any data. If you are in an industry where you might the target for more sophisticated data thieves, then you will need to probably find a consultant to identify good security practices to follow. (Rules about what data can be stored on portable devices, suggestions about encryption of specific directories on the laptop with a different key than the full-disk encryption, switching to managed Blackberries with better security features, etc.)

Easy Peasy (1)

tdarklighter (247845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987741)

CHL and a pistol. Yes, I'm from Texas. We pass out guns at the exit from DFW airport.

karma's top five solutions (-1, Flamebait)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987775)

5. Train a bloodhound to track the scent of your briefcase and keep him as your faithful companion. It helps I find if you fill the case with at least a pound of cocaine. Sniffer dogs can find that stuff in anything. Under water. In coffee cans. Up strange people's anus's... so put about a pound of cocaine in the brief case and your personal bloodhound should be able to find your case just about anywhere. Alternatively, you can put a brick of uranium in it and get a geiger counter. I suggest the only because he's adorable... YES YOU ARE... aren't you adorable?! Huggles!... and cocaine.

4. Hollow out your chest cavity to make a little compartment where you can store your brief case. After all, how many lungs do you really need?

3. Insure the case for ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

2. Hire a ninja guardian to shadow your every movement with orders to secure the case and turn anyone that would threaten it into sashimi... it's like sushi only sans rice... and if you're attacked by a tuna... delicious!

1. Back up your work, asshat. Seriously. Get mozy or whatever offsite back up system floats your intercity bus and back it all up. As to credit cards etc, see option 4. As to your ifad and other assorted gadgety bloat... it's all money in the end. Who actually has data on their ifad they care about? I mean, you've got some emails which are also on your gmail account or whatever so it's not a big deal. And everything else is just app bloat that you can download while trying to avoid getting a brain aneurism on the john. As to recovering your underwear, see option 3.

And cue the music.

My list (I'm in a simular situation): (3, Informative)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987813)

I'm follwing the cult of less myself, and while not all of my important stuff fits in a briefcase, it does fit into one room without it looking cramped or stuffed with junk - and I plan to reduce my stuff even more in the next few years.

Here's what I do:
My Hardware: MB Air, Mac Mini, HTC Flyer, HTC Desire HD
My local storage: 2 HDDs for TimeMachine, 2 HDDs for redundant backup, storage and archiving
My remote storage: Virtual Debian Server for word stuff versioned and synced with Git via SSH (roughly ten projects currently ... all my current work of the last year)

Disaster recovery via TimeMachine, Backup via two extra redundant external USB 3 2.5" HDDs, FS is HFS non-journaled for easy access from linux. Regular offsite versioning, archiving and backups via Git or SCP for the stuff I work on, Backup from Computers to HDDs via rsync. I rely on the Mac OS X AES 128bit encryption of the MB Air SDD for data security. My calendar is on Google and syncs with both HTC devices (anonymous/fake account) and iCal on the MB, my contact data is only in my phone. Still thinking about wether a fresh copy of 'Missing Sync' is worthwhile.

I store all my notes in Evernote. I have the Evernote client hooked to my Evernote account on all devices.

My next move will be an rsync setup with some low-power netbook/nettop PC running linux that pushed the contents of the HDDs to my server (rented virtual server running debian).

If my stuff gets stolen I've got my backups. If someone breaks into my room and steals the HDDs aswell I'm in deep shit - until I get my off-site routine running that is. I've been consolidating my data handling for about a year now and it will take another year or two until I've got it all in place, i.e.: Full and total off-site backup and desaster recovery preperation, fully redundant local backup, archiving and storage, zero-fuss cross-device automatic project syncing and fail-safe, secure contacts and calendering. ... I'm not to picky with encryption, the 128bit AES is enough for my taste. It's not that I work for the CIA or something.

Hope that helped.

Re:My list (I'm in a simular situation): (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39988807)

Sneaker-ware solution to backup HDDs being lost in fire/earthquake/theft. Keep some HDDs in bank safe deposit box (or a friend's house). Rotate backup HDDs.

Note: protection against earthquake might require you to store some HDDs in another state (e.g. my parents live in Ohio).

Remember that backup HDDs, tapes, etc... sometimes glitch.
In the 1980s, after being hit by lightning working on a computer, a data expert at Harvard recommended a 4-backup system (1 off-site).
Your system might be be damaged while making backup A, and backup B might glitch or be damaged during recovery, thus backup C.

Good luck.

Laptop AND Tablet, really? (2, Interesting)

itsme1234 (199680) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Laptop AND Tablet, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39988011)

I don't own a tablet, but I currently own a netbook which will probably be replaced with a tablet on my next upgrade cycle. Netbooks/tablets are a lot smaller than laptops and have much better battery life. When I travel, I (sometimes) carry my laptop and netbook so I can use the latter on the plane without worrying about battery life and use the former when I actually have use for a full-sized (well, 14") screen or need the processing power. (On trips where I don't expect to spend much time sitting in front of a computer, I just bring only my netbook.) In fact, I prefer desktops, so I pretty much only use my laptop as a sorta desktop replacement when traveling.

Re:Laptop AND Tablet, really? (2)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988723)

Phone: check something quickly.
Tablet: read ebooks comfortably.
Laptop: actual work.

You could use the laptop for all three, but the battery life will be getting in your way all the time.

Re:Laptop AND Tablet, really? (1)

masonc (125950) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988835)

I travel with a Macbook Air, HP Laptop, a kindle, a blackberry and a ipod. All have their functions. I'd like to leave the HP behind, at 8lbs it's a pig, but I need a PC for work.

back to the backpack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987893)

Go back to the backpack, and wear it all the time.

Re:back to the backpack (1)

Lorens (597774) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988635)

Go back to the backpack, and wear it all the time.

I have seen a thief unzip a backpack on its owner's back, steal what was on top, and take off running.

PacSafe bag cages (4, Informative)

at.drinian (1180281) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987909)

There's a company called PacSafe that makes what are essentially collapsible wire cages you can wrap your bag in, and then chain the bag to something solid, like a drain pipe: [] That being said, I went around the world a couple of times without one of these, and did just fine. They tend to draw attention.

Need to be more specific (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987921)

When you say you're in deep shit, what do you mean?

If it's a matter of just losing the data, then all you need are backups and travel insurance to cover the cost of the gear. You'll be inconvenienced for that trip, but once you get home you can replace/restore. For example, IIRC, all your kindle purchases are recorded in your account, so you're a new kindle away from restoring everything.

If you are concerned that the data you carry could be used by others to destroy your life (eg: identity/credit theft), then the single best thing you can do is to not put yourself in that position in the first place.
If you're concerned about losing your equipment, leave your good stuff at home and bring a lower quality equivalent instead. For stuff like your laptop, leave it at home, turned on, and either running hamachi (very easy) or set up tomato/ddwrt on your router and configure it for VPN (more complicated). Assuming you have easy internet access, your a link away from any data you might need.

If you HAVE to have instant access to sensitive data, then encrypt. All the major operating systems now have either full disk encryption built in or have it available via third party (such as truecrypt). That way even if something important IS stolen, then at least they'd have a really hard time making use of the data.

Additionally, there are tools you can get such as Prey, which will serve as a location service to help you locate stolen gear. I believe it works for mac, windows, linux, android and ios.

The only big concern that I'm not sure how to deal with would be to remote data-wipe your cell phone. If it's a big concern, you may wanna do the phone equivalent of what I mentioned earlier: temporarily use a spare cell phone that doesn't have all the critical data on it. Alternatively you could research the possibility of remote data wipe services.

Incidentally, a number of the above items could (and probably should) also be used on your equipment for day to day activities. Being at home, but having your laptop stolen during a break in, could be just as devastating as if someone nabbed your stuff while abroad.

Redundancy (3, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 2 years ago | (#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?

micro cards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987937)

What about using micro sd cards and keep them some where else... in the wallet etc?

Whole-disk encryption (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987951)

Anybody have any tips regarding using whole-disk (or home directory) encryption using Ubuntu?

What about re-installs of the OS (an unfortunate necessity)?

Do you have to continue using the same password in order to keep being able to decrypt the home directory?

Re:Whole-disk encryption (2)

itsme1234 (199680) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988067)

Huh, have you ever installed Ubuntu during the last years? It asks you if you want to encrypt (encfs) your home (and of course you can change the password later on, although it won't help you if an attacker had access to the machine in the meantime).
"Whole-disk" encryption is also available in the alternate installer (and it looks and probably is identical with the one that exists by default in the debian installer). However for some reason the recent versions of the "alternate" are a mess, at least in my experience.
Upgrades/reinstalls are also no problem (if all goes well) although I hope it's obvious that backups are a must.

Re:Whole-disk encryption (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988331)

Yes, I have (8.04, 10.04, and now 12.04).

I hadn't used encryption up till now because I used it on a desktop.

I was having some trouble with a re-installation of 12.04, and I thought it might have something to do with the home encryption.

Re:Whole-disk encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39988553)

It might be easier on Ubuntu, but on Arch Linux you have to mount the encrypted volume manually and then you can proceed with the install as usual (in other words: it's easy iff you know what you're doing). Only encrypting /home is NOT safe, you should always encrypt at least /tmp too (assuming you use a swap partition), lest you accidentally leave important data unencrypted.

briefcase? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987953)

people still use briefcases?

Diversify (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39988309)

"I've got all my eggs in one basket. How can I secure that basket from harm?"

Don't put all of your eggs into the same basket - same answer as it's always been.

Get a life. (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988319)

If your life can be packed into a briefcase, you are missing somebody important in your life. Oh wait, this is slashdot...

Pick your gear carefully (3, Interesting)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988337)

I am highly mobile and also carry my laptop and tablet in my briefcase. However, I chose the sturdiest, most versatile briefcase [] 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

Never go through a US airport (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988373)

The TSA is rife with thieves; even the rich and famous are not safe in this regard.

Bad idea (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988403)

A briefcase is a terrible place to hide a horcrux.

Bruce Schneier's approved solution (1)

BlameCanada (176521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988487)

Anti-theft briefcase:

You're not an Apple fanboi... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39988545)

...if you've only got $4K in equipment in your briefcase, you obviously aren't an Apple fanboi.

Socks? (1)

RKBA (622932) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988637)

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.

No extra clothing? Your socks must stink horribly!

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