Hard Drive For Border Crossings: Will Self-Destruct If Connected To An Unknown Host

from the well-there's-an-idea dept

We’ve discussed a few times how Homeland Security has aggressively (and successfully) claimed the right to search laptop harddrives at the border without probable cause (sometimes without any known cause). The response from some has been to now encrypt your drive, but it appears that technologists are trying to offer up a variety of other solutions. Dark Helmet points us to the news that Toshiba is now offering a hard drive that can delete itself if it’s connected to an “unknown host.” It can also take less extreme measures, including just ramping up the authentication needed. While being pitched as useful for governments, it seems like it can be useful to protect against governments as well.

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Companies: toshiba

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Comments on “Hard Drive For Border Crossings: Will Self-Destruct If Connected To An Unknown Host”

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Floyd (profile) says:

Meanwhile, we can listen to Congressmen grandstand about how Facebook and Google don’t protect our privacy, and how they need to squander tax dollars on investigating their privacy policies.

“Pay no mind to the man behind the curtain [who is searching through your hard drive without probable cause]! Services to which you willingly gave information about yourself may actually be utilizing that information!!!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The thing is, we’re stuck. Only the naive would think we don’t need some level of government bureaucracy to keep things working.

And yet, the personality types able to make it into and function at those bureaucratic levels (defects, socio-paths, what have you) are what we keep choosing.

I think there is something fundamental in our human nature, that expresses itself in our tribal based culture and gives us this result.

Think about it. Through all recorded history, in every single culture, we see the same organizational problems.

Q?r Tharkasd?ttir (profile) says:

Attracting attention

Keep in mind that as useful as they may be, such installments will just as easily attract unwanted attention to your little person. In other words, from the viewpoint of the warped minds of certain people, why would you want to encrypt your stuff if you’re not guilty to begin with? Then you risk getting guantanamoed simply because you refuse to be cooperative and tell “them” your password. I believe you’d be even worse off if your harddisk had been “self-destructed” and you weren’t even able to provide any evidence about its contents. On my last trip to the US, I chose not to bring my laptop and put an inactive and cleaned-up SIM in my cell phone. Webmail is accessible from anywhere, and essential files can be uploaded to a server somewhere.

Danny (user link) says:

I can hear them asking already...

“You don’t have anything to worry about if you haven’t got anything bad on it right?”

“Why are you being so secretive?”

“For all the trouble you’re going through to protect your hard drive you must have something on it you don’t want us to see.” (This one requires the presumption that “something you on it you don’t want us to see” only means illegal stuff. So your company documents, sexy pics of your spouse, and your copy of Hello Kitty Funtime Island, are just as damning as having bomb scematics.)

But on a lighter note if self destructing meant this thing actually blew up (after connected to said unknown host) I think it would be pretty funny. However it will not be funny when you go to prison for destroying federal property (which I bet carries a bigger punishment than having actual bomb scematics on your laptop).

Rekrul says:

Re: I can hear them asking already...

But on a lighter note if self destructing meant this thing actually blew up (after connected to said unknown host) I think it would be pretty funny.

How about this instead of explosives; Carry a dead laptop with you with a drive that’s been specially modified to connect the power lines to all the data lines. I’m no expert, but I doubt that any system they plugged it into would be too healthy after they flipped the switch. 🙂

Q?r Tharkasd?ttir (profile) says:

Re: Re: I can hear them asking already...

If I do have my statistical probabilities straight, it’s still quite a bit of hassle in light of the likeliness that YOU will be the one whose laptop gets searched. And, commentary to others, it’s extremely doubtful that the manpower at a border crossing either has the time or the competence at their disposal to scan a laptop on the spot. Meaning that your laptop will get confiscated anyway, temporarily at least.

Cipher-0 says:

Re: I can hear them asking already...

“For all the trouble you’re going through to protect your hard drive you must have something on it you don’t want us to see.”

Fortunately, I have a ready answer for that.

“As you can see from my passport I am a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Under Massachusetts General Law 93 sections A through H as well as Massachusetts regulation 201 CMR 17 all laptop storage and all portable storage used in business that potentially contains “personally identifiable information” must be encrypted. Further, under those laws, it is against both those regulations and laws for me to disclose the passwords to a third party.”

Effective? Who knows, but doesn’t make it less true.

Dustin says:

Re: Never has been

Or, in this case, don’t take anything you value past a border guard.

My personal information (i.e. my laptop, journals, diary, anything) are my business and nobody elses. The fact that the government can use threat of force to deprive me of my right to privacy under the guise of border security makes me do two things: travel out over the border less often, and ensure I never travel with anything.

I travel with my tickets and my bank card. Everything else either gets bought on location or shipped.

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