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Location-Based Encryption

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the what-if-the-hub-goes-on-the-fritz? dept.

Security 239

davidwr writes "Eweek reports Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has a new way to prevent theft of company secrets on stolen laptops: 'Wozniak offered a peek into his vision for the company on Ziff Davis Media's Security Virtual Tradeshow, where he introduced "wOz Location-Based Encryption," an application that uses GPS tracking within a wireless hub to encrypt and decrypt sensitive data for large businesses.' Today's encryption is good enough but I do like the tracking capability. Imagine your laptop screaming 'I'm being stolen! I'm being stolen!' and paging security as the janitor walks out the door with it."

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Not totally secure? (5, Insightful)

nmg196 (184961) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985685)

All GPS devices I've come across simply stream out NMEA data from a serial port (or over a bluetooth connection). What would stop someone that really desperate to get the data from hacking the GPS module or the dongle so they can stream in their own forged (or recorded) NMEA data which reports the laptops current position to be where they stole it from (after all, they should remember)? Usually anything these days that requires a GPS uses a standard GPS module, and at some stage, the position data from it ends up in an interceptable form on the edge interface of some module. Hardly bulletproof security?

Re:Not totally secure? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985741)

Or.. how about the limitation of any GPS device of needing to see the satellites i.e. this won't work unless you are outside out in the open.

Re:Not totally secure? (5, Funny)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986081)

When a laptop screams 'I'm being stolen! I'm being stolen!' and no one can here it, is it really making noise?

Re:Not totally secure? (4, Interesting)

jmcmunn (307798) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985760)


Better yet, my portable GPS device allows me to "set my location" temporarily in case the signal is not strong enough. This allows the device to at least estimate where I am if it has a weak signal somehow. I don't really get all the details...but it works so I don't complain.

So what's to stop someone from doing essentially the same thing with the laptop? Just tell it "you're still in the building" and you'd be all good. I think this is a pretty cheesy idea for security, you can always figure out a way to lie to a machine, regardless of what lie you're telling. This is less secure than a well-encrypted password if you ask me, or course I assume that the machine would still have the password as added security, so I guess that argument shouldn't carry any weight.

Re:Not totally secure? (5, Informative)

nmg196 (184961) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985948)

> This allows the device to at least estimate where I am if it
> has a weak signal somehow. I don't really get all the details...
> but it works so I don't complain.

Well a GPS receiver has about 8-12 channels with which to look for the satellites. If it knows roughly where you are, then it can use that information, together with stored almanac data (info relating to the orbital positions of the satellites over time) in order to better guess *which* satellites it should try locking on to. It basically speeds up the process of getting the all important 'first fix'. If you didn't tell it where it was, it would simply take longer to get the fix - but it would still get there eventually.

I must admit, I wasn't too impressed when I received my first GPS and the very first question it asked me when I turned it on is "Please select the location of this device using the map below". I was like, "huh, aren't you supposed to tell me that?!". :)

Re:Not totally secure? (1)

recharged95 (782975) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986109)

If they can defeat lo-jack on cars, they can defeat this. (unless it's some SMT transmitter on the freakin chip, which is unlikely due to the power requirements at this point).

Re:Not totally secure? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10986200)

I was like, "huh, aren't you supposed to tell me that?!".

You were 'like'? Expand your vocabulary a bit. You will find it, like, totally cool when you do. You can like be like very clear in communitcating your thoughts. You will be like "wow".

Re:Not totally secure? (0)

killua (604159) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985797)

Theres no such animal as bullet proof security, all we can do is make it more difficult to get around. 0.02$

Re:Not totally secure? (1)

PeteDotNu (689884) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985863)

It may not defend against the hackerly, but at least it will stop you average dumb criminal in his striped jersey.

article probably wrong (1)

brlewis (214632) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985888)

I seriously doubt they would use only GPS data as an encryption key. Likely the dongle is doing challenge-response interactions with the wireless hub, and certain actions get triggered when the hub is no longer in wireless range.

Re:article probably wrong (1)

nmg196 (184961) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986090)

No, but at some stage, the device relies on a raw GPS signal. All I was wondering is, what would happen if you spoofed that signal somehow... Maybe the rest of the encryption process won't notice and it will be happy to show you the data.

As we've seen many times before on Slashdot, lots of new encryption techniques turn out to be gimmicks or marketing ploys designed to sell one specific product. How often do these weird encryption mechanisms actually become mainstream? Not very often.

Not having a device to examine, none of us can really say yet, but if the GPS part of this system has been done to woo naieve company directors into buying their products who are excited by the buzzwords and technology, then maybe that'll be enough for this company to sell a few products and then disappear off the face of the earth before the first workaround or crack for it appears on BitTorrent and eMule :)

Re:Not totally secure? (1)

salvorHardin (737162) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985927)

That, or just jam the GPS device [gpsworld.com] .
Wouldn't help you open Rights Management stylee protected data, but it would stop your laptop from screaming "I'm being stolen!".

Re:Not totally secure? (1)

bsd4me (759597) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986092)

I think all consumer GPS devices do this, but there are lots of commercial/industiral GPS devices, too.

I don't think it would be that hard to integrate one of the chipsets [trimble.com] from Trimble [trimble.com] into a WAP to provide the feature Woz is describing. Install the WAP in the ceiling, and run some RG-58 to the roof for the antenna, and I think that would make spoofing the GPS a lot harder.

Re:Not totally secure? (1)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986095)

Is this like what they did in Goldeneye?

Probably is more than plugging a GPS in. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986116)

Yes, but he's not talking about putting a GPS on the serial port.

What he's talking about is something closer an iButton dongle that would only work at a particular position. This will communicate with a wireless infrastructure that will provide the key to unlock data.

How GPS figures in is not entirely clear from the article, but it appears to be a kind of two factor security: you can get to your data if (a) you are in the presence of an authorization agent and (b) you are in the right geographic place. In effect you will be able to say that a particular memo is only readable on campus. You can't take it home with you, for example.

My guess is that the GPS is attached to the authorization agent, not the laptop. For one thing, it's rare to get any kind of GPS coverage inside buildings. The reason for this is that it would prevent you from stealing the authorization agent as well as the data on the laptop. Again I'm guessing, but you'd run a coax cable to an outside antenna. As you point out the NMEAstring is childishly simple to fake, but the actual radio signal would require building special hardware and software to fake.

Re:Not totally secure? (1)

plover (150551) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986180)

Partly because these devices rely on security through obscurity, and sales through marketing-hype.

If a security system is recognized and completely understood, it can be disabled or defeated. However, if the system is not recognized in time, it can use that time to phone home, re-encrypt the data, squirt stinky purple ink out the keyboard, whatever.

So, if your concern is that James Bond and Bruce Schneier are going to conspire with the CIA to steal your laptop, well you're pretty much screwed even with this system. But if your bigger concern is that Tom in accounting is going to get pissed off at your new corporate dress code and steal the CEO's laptop in order to "get back at da man", well at least he isn't going to get a free copy of your customer database that he can sell to your competition.

Remember, Woz isn't trying to sell to the CIA -- he's trying to sell to that CEO. Real world security isn't always about perfection -- it's frequently about tipping the odds in your favor as often as possible.

Re:Not totally secure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10986211)

well yeah .. it's not bulletproof .. u can copy data off HDD et.. but it's a layer.

Anyway .. since when do GPS signals work reliably inside a building anyway?

Or other more malign actions (5, Funny)

_the_bascule (740525) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985704)

paging the boss, 'he's going home! he's going home!'

w0z is a nutjob at best... (-1, Flamebait)

chroot_james (833654) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985715)

He only has media attention because of his work back in the day with Apple. I don't think anything he's done since has been any good or has even gone anywhere. Does anyone even remember that OpenBSD firewall he had? GPS devices aren't even good locators. How about triangulation or something more along the lines of determining where someone is instead?

Re:w0z is a nutjob at best... (1)

chroot_james (833654) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985747)

I'd like to clarify a tad... GPS's aren't specific enough and can be inaccurate enough to make this not perfect security, like is always claimed with NEW AWESOME PRODUCTS! Traingulation may not be perfect either, but it might be a better lead to "only the boss gets internet in the boss's office" type things.

Re:w0z is a nutjob at best... (4, Interesting)

erikharrison (633719) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985974)

Wozniac is a nutjob no doubt about it. He'd still be a legend, though, even if it weren't for Apple. He was an early phreaker, and a good friend of John Draper - Cap'n Crunch for gods sake! He was an important figure in the Silicon Valley hobbyist community, and even if he hadn't done either Apple or phreaking he'd still be a footnote in the big book of commodity PCs because of that. Certainly more than you or I can claim.

He and Jobs didn't start their relationship selling computers together - they originally sold blue boxes. Woz still works for Apple, mostly as a consultant, and he and Jobs still collaborate (though Woz has claimed that on many occasions Jobs credits him with ideas that he had minimal participation in).

Since leaving Apple he's been as much a humanitarian with his skills and money as Bill Gates (though in smaller absolute amounts). He personally provides free tech support for the local school system, and (at least when System 8 was still cutting edge) held computer classes for preschool and elementary school kids. He's sponsered charity concerts, and more.

Problem with Wozniak is he has a great technical mind, a wonderful sense of playfulness, and even a good sense of what users want in products, but his business sense is poor. That's why there hasn't been as much output from Woz since leaving Apple - their hasn't been a Steve Jobs. Wozniak was the Paul Allen to Job's Bill Gates, and much like Allen, Wozniak has dabbled here and their, with no truly successful financial venture yet. That doesn't mean he's worthless

Alarms (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985722)

What if they had that for cars? Imagine someone tries to steal one and an alarm goes off! Everyone will pay attention and call the police right away. Car theft will be a thing of the past for sure...

Re:Alarms (1)

lmfr (567586) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986099)

Car alarms require public interest and intervention.

This, however, only requires interest and intervention from paid security officers working for the company.

Re:Alarms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10986158)

Fer crissakes: these have been around forever [google.com] :

Does not work for cars too well (2, Interesting)

mi (197448) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985724)

Automobiles had various "I'm being stolen" devices for years. From overt obnoxious sirens, that wake up the neighborhoods in the middle of the night to covert "Lo-Jack" and others. Does not help as much as was, I bet, expected.

Or does it?

Re:Does not work for cars too well (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985945)

LoJack does work, apparently:

Google Answers [google.com] that links to a Carnegie-Mellon study about it.

--RJ

Re:Does not work for cars too well (1)

plover (150551) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986026)

My auto insurance company offers a blanket discount for "theft deterrent devices." I think we can safely assume that if an insurance company is willing to cut prices 10% because the ignition locks up if it's fiddled with, then there really is a measurable deterrent effect.

It's quite obvious that the systems won't stop a dedicated thief, nor will they prevent many other sorts of insurable damage. But they obviously have some overall effect.

Re:Does not work for cars too well (1)

mikael (484) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986061)

Unfortunately, these "I'm being stolen" devices also get set off whenever there is a major fireworks show like the Edinburgh Festival. Which of course is exactly at the same time as there are large numbers of visitors and their cars in the area.

Re:Does not work for cars too well (1)

Lonesome Squash (676652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986159)

Lojack works EXTREMELY well. And it's also socially beneficial. If I put an alarm on my car, thieves will go steal your car. If 5% of the people in an area have Lojack, becoming a professional car thief becomes significantly more difficult. By installing Lojack, you're benefiting all car owners in your area.

These days, thieves will typically do things like park cars out on the street somewhere for a day or two to see if the police come and recover it before they bring it to their chop shop. This means there's a better chance of their getting caught even by normal means on cars that DON'T have Lojack.

If I were a police officer, every once in a while I'd see if I could convince someone to leave their stolen and located car right where the thieves left it, so I could follow them when they pick it up.

This could be applied to other things as well (3, Interesting)

uid100 (540265) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985726)

Some though would have to be applied to this, but a GPS system in your car that alerts you if some operational parameters are crossed would be nice.

"Hey, I'm being towed away from the parking garage, even though my keys are more than 100 yards from me"

Zztxt Flrqtp fnz p47eltnzd. (4, Funny)

mothz (788133) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985728)

Zztxt Flrqtp fnz p47eltnzd.

Oh, I'm sorry, you need to move two steps to the left.

Re:Zztxt Flrqtp fnz p47eltnzd. (0)

ozbon (99708) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985861)

For once i really wish I had mod points - but it's Funny, not Interesting!

Janitor (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985729)

as the janitor walks out the door with it
aren't we stereotyping a bit here?

Do you keep your laptop solely in the office? (5, Insightful)

mpathetiq (726625) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985731)

It seems like the real risk would be when you are on-site, traveling, etc. As a consultant, my laptop never leaves my side. I'd hate to have to "check out" every time I left the building. Also, I don't think I would like my employer having the possibility of tracking my every movement. Sure, you could turn off the tracking, but then you've lost the security as well.

In other news... (2, Interesting)

al_fruitbat (617734) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985745)

...thieves put stolen laptops in bags lined with aluminium foil. (can also be used for hats)

Re:In other news... (1)

Lonesome Squash (676652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986179)

You're missing the point. If the GPS doesn't report that the laptop is in an approved location, the thieves can't access the data. The data (actually, the secrecy of the data) might be orders of magnitude more valuable than the hardware.

Re:In other news... (1)

al_fruitbat (617734) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986207)

Oh, sorry. He said 'janitor'. Anyone interested in industrial espionage is likely to be aware of encryption systems like this.

Um.. (2)

Daniel Boisvert (143499) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985752)

Does anybody else see a problem with a laptop you can't use outside of the office?

It's not like you'd buy a laptop so you could TAKE IT WITH YOU and work outside of the office, or anything..

Re:Um.. (1)

sarlen (836953) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985844)

Does anybody else see a problem with a laptop you can't use outside of the office? It's not like you'd buy a laptop so you could TAKE IT WITH YOU and work outside of the office, or anything..

As with any optional security feature, I imagine it would only be implemented under the assumption it should NOT be used out of the confines of the office. Would that not be an effective deterent? Same principal as a car stereo that doesn't work once taken out of the car - sure you have it, but what was the point?

Re:Um.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985898)

Then why not buy the cheaper, more powerful desktop?

Re:Um.. (1)

grommit (97148) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985969)

Who says that you can't take it out of the office? There merely needs to be a system set up where you can "check out" the laptop for business trips. After x number of days, if the laptop is not back at the home office, it gets disabled.

Shut Down? (5, Insightful)

ZZeta (743322) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985755)

Ok, may be I'm missing something, but wouldn't a simple shut down get rid of this 'feature'?

And before you tell me how you can't shut it down without the apropriate password: Unplug / get rid of the battery. If you're stealing the notebook, why would you mind turning it off? After all, there'll be plenty of time back home to retrive the data.

Re:Shut Down? (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985827)

Require a password on boot to unlock filesystem-level encryption.

Re:Shut Down? (2, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985903)

Simple. Just have your server ping the laptop every second and launch an alarm if the connection goes down.

Unless you knowingly turn the watchdog off, I can't see a way to work around this that doesn't involve meddling with the server or alarm -- if you use some secure ping like choosing a random number and running some private key cryptographic tool on both ends.

Re:Shut Down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10986050)

cuz after all, there's no reason for a network to ever be down unless something's being stolen. This wouldn't lead to too many false alarms, no more than 10^7 per day.

"Unplug / get rid of the battery" (3, Informative)

da5idnetlimit.com (410908) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985955)

True, very true...

Also one should note that in most cases, when someones steals a laptop, it is for the laptop itself, and they couldn't care less for the data on it...as long as they can download the corresponding drivers later on...

One the laptop get sold, it'll suffer a quick reinstall. and the security dongle will become a nice high tech keychain 8)

+ This system assumes I have a physical access to the machine...

If I have physical access to the machine (usually you find them plugged into the network, and no screensaver password...) all I have to do is either install a quick soft from the net or from the cd/usb key I have with me...

Keylogger/bot/zombie/spyware/remote desktop... I can do whatever I want...and your security is breached...

GPS? Inside a building? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985761)

Hmm... doesn't sound too promising to me.

Auto delete (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985766)

One pissed off IT guy decides to 'move' the worker's safe zone 5m to the left.

Rants (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985768)

<froth>
Security through obscurity!
This is not theft!
Information wants to be FREE!
My rights online!
</froth>

I can see the error messages now... (3, Funny)

Elphin (7066) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985774)

Error! Unable to open file!

In order to open this file you must move 3 metres northwest of your present position

British intelligence and self-destructo laptops (5, Informative)

call -151 (230520) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985777)

This has come up before- here [wired.com] is a link to a 2001 Wired article about the British intelligence services using laptops with ``a built-in electronic self-destruct mechanism that erases a laptop's hard drive if the case is opened by force'' when a code is forgotten, as well as ``a tracking feature that allows a computer gone astray to call home." This was after a spate of embarrassing episodes where laptops with lots of important info went missing. I don't know if it's been implemented but this does seem to have some interesting applications, potentially...

For a laptop? (2, Insightful)

31415926535897 (702314) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985788)

I was always under the impression that laptops were supposed to be mobile (but maybe that's just me)...

It seems like this would be more useful for company systems that have highly proprietary, sensitive data on them that you wouldn't want moving around. I could see a very nice, dual G5 screaming "I'm being stolen" as the janitor carts it out with his supplies (though how it does that without a power source is beyond me, I guess you would need a secondary power source just for this system).

Also, and I'm really not trying to start a flame war here, but first, what's wrong with a janitor having a laptop, and why assume that it's a janitor stealing the laptop? I would guess that it's a disgruntled employee or just-fired employee (that's not properly escorted out) that would pull a stunt like that. And I would think that laptops are stolen from public places like libraries and parks rather and work places where I think a system like this might not be as useful.

Re:For a laptop? (1)

Tenebrious1 (530949) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986088)

Also, and I'm really not trying to start a flame war here, but first, what's wrong with a janitor having a laptop, and why assume that it's a janitor stealing the laptop? I would guess that it's a disgruntled employee or just-fired employee (that's not properly escorted out) that would pull a stunt like that. And I would think that laptops are stolen from public places like libraries and parks rather and work places where I think a system like this might not be as useful.

I don't have any numbers, but most of the laptops that I've heard of being stolen were stolen by complete strangers who managed to sneak into secured areas. Usually dressed in suits, they just wander around purposefully until they see an unwatched laptop grab it and quickly walk out. That's why it's important not to let strangers in behind you.

I'm being stolen! (1)

six11 (579) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985801)

Laptop: "I'm being stolen! Security guys, help!"
[Security guy shows up, gun drawn]
Security guy: "You there! Hands up"
Innocent guy: "But, I'm just bringing Bob's laptop over to him in building 4!"

I do like the idea, however, even though it may have issues. You could also use a wireless signal that pervades your company that is used as a key to decrypt.

Re:I'm being stolen! (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985939)

Yeah, and if the guard believes the guy, that's the biggest (and most common) issue.

For the wireless signal: just have a centralized server decrypt everything, to keep the secret keys locked up nice and tight.

Quote from article (2, Insightful)

ender1598 (266355) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985809)

"Throughout the entire process, Wozniak said the encryption key is controlled in a central location through a secure transmission. Because the wOz Platform and the wOzNet network are proprietary, he said it is not open to Wi-Fi spoofing or password sniffing."

proprietary != secure from sniffing

I wonder if it's based on the current wireless encryption or if it's something completely new.

Re:Quote from article (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985865)

I think his point was wOz != WEP

Article little biased? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985822)

Why does it have to be the Janitor?

"wOz Location-Based Encryption" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985832)

"wOz Location-Based Encryption" Have you read Woz's interviews? Seen his web site? Am I the only one who thinks he is a little "into himself?" http://fromthemorning.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Thinkpads and RFID (4, Informative)

terrencefw (605681) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985845)

IBM Thinkpads have had RFID in them for a while now, to prevent them being taken out of specific areas.

Mobile PC. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986145)

Isn't the point of a laptop that are designed to be mobile? And if you want to restrict the mobility wouldn't it be easier to attach a network cable & lock to it instead of this fancy encryption?

Or if it is to be used in 2 places use 2 desktops? what am i missing?

Ok, this is no solution for the boss who must have the most fancy laptop there is to see the best screensaver. (dilbert)

You make me sick (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985847)

Imagine your laptop screaming 'I'm being stolen! I'm being stolen!' and paging security as the janitor walks out the door with it.

What, so just because the janitor is hispanic, he automatically steals laptops? You fucking racists are what's wrong with america.

Re:You make me sick (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985935)

Sounds to me like you're the racist one. The article just said janitor. You equated a janitor to being hispanic.

Re:You make me sick (0)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986151)

I think the theory is more along the lines of, if you want to steel a laptop from X company to get data from its hard disk, the easiest way of doing this is probably to get a job there as a janitor and swipe one while you're doing your rounds.

Janitors get access to all areas of an office, even ones that are usually kept secure. There are few qualifications required for the job, beyond having good references (which can be faked if you have the infrastructure for it). It's simply the easiest way in. And even if you can't, it's a low paying job which means that those doing it are more likely to be bribable than, say, the IT staff.

tracking device (1)

hostylocal (827126) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985848)

i like the idea of this. just so i can find stuff after i put it down somewhere...

Not a lo-jack (1)

zarthrag (650912) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985859)

This is hardly feasable. However, it *is* possible to construct your TxRx that can lock your equipment to the area. But if you're that serious about locking something down, why not just use a mainframe and some dumb terminals?

This could only possibly work with other layers of security - GPS data isn't what I'd choose unless you can afford to launch some slightly more "useful" satellites of your own. Those sattelites would have to encode a sort of "encrypted timestamp" into the their data, so that that you can be *sure* your position is accurate, and not injected into the system.

Of course, this is also fakable, but at much more expense and pain. I'm sure even more elaboration could possibly yield something. Maybe adding a tuner that looks for TV/radio local station carriers, blah-blah-blah

Why must it always be "the janitor"?? (3, Insightful)

gambit3 (463693) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985864)


A few years ago, a securtity head-honcho at my company gave a presentation about keeping confidential documents off our desks, because "you never know when the janitors can come in and just swipe it out with them. I know they don't speak Englis, but it doesn't take a lot to swipe stuff off a desk..."

I've had my fair share of stuff stolen, and it's never been a janitor.

Re:Why must it always be "the janitor"?? (0)

gambit3 (463693) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985899)

oh, and forgive the missing "h" at the end of "English."

I've been having trouble with the "h" key in my keyboard.

Must be those damn janitors that stole it!

Re:Why must it always be "the janitor"?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985931)

I know they don't speak Englis

Looks like you don't either :p

Re:Why must it always be "the janitor"?? (1)

wootest (694923) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985996)

I've had my fair share of stuff stolen, and it's never been a janitor. You're right. The butler did it.

Re:Why must it always be "the janitor"?? (1)

PoopJuggler (688445) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986056)

At a company I used to work for, there were several instances of stuff being stolen, and in all cases it was the janitorial staff. I think the stereotype is justified.

Re:Why must it always be "the janitor"?? (1)

xxavierg (538582) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986219)

well, i am glad your anecdotal evidence, from your personal experience in one company is enough to justify an entire stereotype.

Re:Why must it always be "the janitor"?? (2)

Jucius Maximus (229128) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986212)

"A few years ago, a securtity head-honcho at my company gave a presentation about keeping confidential documents off our desks, because "you never know when the janitors can come in and just swipe it out with them. I know they don't speak English, but it doesn't take a lot to swipe stuff off a desk...""

It's easy to blame the person who's not in the room. Why do you think they blame the project's current problems on the person who jumped ship and left the company?

And FWIW, there were only two occasions I know of where things were stolen from an office where I worked or visited. One of them (involving the theft of the database peoples' candy/cookie stock) was never solved as far as I know. The other one (involving the theft of computer equipment) was conclusively traced to a person on the custodial staff. This person was hired on Tuesday, a thief on the Wednesday, and fired on the Thursday.

GPS spoofing (2)

Mordac the Preventer (36096) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985870)

So... how easy is it to spoof a GPS signal?

Re:GPS spoofing (1)

Mordac the Preventer (36096) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986051)

Replying to my own post is a bit off, but an even better thought... Say that BigCorp uses this idea to protect all of its really valuable data. You get a GPS transmitter that's transmitting a spoofed postion a few miles away, and all of BigCorp's laptops go "OMG, I've been stolen: 'rm -rf /data'".

Janitor walks out with it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985875)

This isn't the first time s/d has made the janitor an evil person you insensitive clods.

Oh Come ON! (1)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985896)

I don't see how this system will stop theft of data. If you want to steal the data just copy the data and leave the machine there.

I can see the security department scratching their heads while saying "who would have thought of putting all that data on a floppy disk"!

floppy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10986096)

512MB USB keychain flash, actually.

Re:floppy? (1)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986126)

some companies have these blocked on their pcs. Nobody blocks floppies though.

CUSTODIAN!!! (0, Offtopic)

oiarbovnb (728906) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985897)

what do you got against us anyways?

DVD Regional restrictions redux? (1)

0x00000dcc (614432) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985915)

I am somewhat ignorant Woz's plan, but does this not remind anyone of DVDs not being able to be played outside of specified regions? How do we know the same thing won't happen?

Spoof (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985942)

It's not a big deal to spoof. All you'd have to do is build a couple small GPS-emulator transmitters and aim them at the device, and have them tell the device that its sitting its comfortable office environment 5,000 miles away.

Reliable GPS *INDOORS*??? (2, Insightful)

rwyoder (759998) | more than 9 years ago | (#10985967)

I've been playing with a high-end GPS device recently, and the first thing I learned was that you can forget about getting a reading indoors. So how will this device work when there is no GPS reading in the office???

Re:Reliable GPS *INDOORS*??? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986029)

when it starts getting a gps reading, it knows it left the building. Anyway, in most buildings gps will work in some places and not in others - alot of risk for the thief. I suppose one could place a lo-jack type laptop in a faraday cage, but again risky when it comes type to either strip or access it.

Janitor? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10985968)

That's a pretty cheap shot at the janitors for no good reason.

GPS and Signal. (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986014)

With my experience with GPS. They tend not to get a signal unless you are outside and have a clear view of the sky. When Driving in tunnals, or a road with a thick covarage of trees I tend to loose signal. And I have never got it to work while I was inside my apartment. Most people tend to use Laptops inside buildings and a lot of them are not nessarly near windows or have the window shades open (the heat of an afternoon sun in summer is pritty bad). So for most cases this will not work because they cannot get a GPS signal.

Woz? (1)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986025)

Will Bill Gates soon be inventing a product with the Acronym "B.I.L.L" for the product name?

New Game? (1)

rihock (680776) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986064)

Why do I see this as new GPS game-- find the hidden PC and try to find the hotspot to de-encrypt the secret message??? Coming to reality TV near you (sort of near, or as close as GPS can)

good against wardriving (2, Interesting)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986108)

Imagine that your WEP gets encrypted with a key dependent on your location. A large company could enable campus-wide WIFI, but you would only be able to get on the network if you are inside one of the buildings. Not the ultimate protection, but one extra barrier.

Indiana Jones (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986128)

...So THATs how the temple knew that they were stealing the holy grail! Always wondered how they did that.

-d

Re:Indiana Jones (1)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986192)

yes, but for civilian religious booby-trap use the ancient gps signals were intentionally randomly time shifted so accuracy was only to the nearest 3 cubits.

Oh please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10986139)

Woz has had a SUCCESSION of crappy ideas, turned into crappy products.

While some of us are busting our butts trying to do hard work, why does he get an automatic free pass into Slashdot (and elsewhere) every time he has another hallucination and dips into his pocket to have a few things built?

The guy built a really cool floppy disk drive once. Why again does this equate to a free PR pass to report his every burp?

And yes i did R the F A

I'm being stolen! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10986146)

Imagine your laptop screaming, "I'm being stolen" as the baggage handler unloads it from your plane while your on your business trip. Hey! Lets throw some "data protection" into it as well so that when it is stolen, people can't retrieve those company secrets! Then when you do go on your business trip, .... ah, technology, gotta love it!

Easy to overcome... (1)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986156)

Cut and break 'top to pieces. Pick the hard drive from the rubble.

Re:Easy to overcome... (0, Redundant)

Lonesome Squash (676652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986242)

3. Try every possible cryptographic key to read the contents of the drive.

4. ?

5. Profit!

dongle reader and emulator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10986172)

Easily fits between laptop and Dongle!

Emulates either laptop or dongle via selectable switch.

Coming soon to a store near you....

Keeping your data safe from thieves (1)

Mwongozi (176765) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986203)

Hasn't Apple already solved this problem [apple.com] ?

mod do3Zn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10986225)

Probably nothing... (1)

computational super (740265) | more than 9 years ago | (#10986232)

Imagine your laptop screaming 'I'm being stolen! I'm being stolen!' and paging security as the janitor walks out the door with it.

I would imagine this would get the same immediate response from law enforcement and concerned citizens that a blaring car alarm gets right now.

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