By all accounts, last week was a difficult week for the Secret Service. Not only did they have to deal with intruders on the grounds of the White House, on Thursday, the laptop belonging to a Secret Service agent in New York City was stolen from the agent's car. Reports indicate the laptop contained the evacuation plans and floor plans for Trump Tower. Although none of the material was classified, officials confirmed it might be possible to use the laptop to access servers containing classified material. Unfortunately, the laptop cannot be traced or wiped remotely and authorities are still searching for it.
So, if even laptops belonging to the Secret Service aren't safe, how can you protect yours? Obviously, there's no way to eliminate the risk entirely, but there are some steps you can take to safeguard your devices, as well as things you can do to protect your data before and after a theft. The Secret Service stated their laptops contain "multiple layers of security including full disk encryption." In this Dark Reading article, Steve Zurier provides some statistics on laptop thefts and offers some timely advice to help protect your data. This includes creating strong, secure passwords that are changed regularly, using authentication options, and being aware of your surroundings.
Supporting Web Links
- Video: Secret Service laptop with Trump Tower floor plans stolen in New York
- Where are Laptops Stolen From Most Often?
- The Secret Service’s stolen laptop is a reminder to us all to secure devices
- Panicked Secret Service Says It Lost Encrypted Laptop But It's Fine, Everything's Fine
- This article emphasizes the importance of properly protecting your mobile devices and the data they contain. Consider showing students the CNET video from the Supporting Web Links section, “How to Encrypt Your iOS or Android Device.”
- Divide the class into small groups and have them research different software and/or hardware products that can be used to keep laptops and mobile devices secure, before or after theft. The Supporting Web Links section includes several products, but students should be encouraged to investigate other options as well. Each group should put together a presentation to highlight the products they found.
- As an individual project, ask students to find a recent article about the theft of laptops or mobile devices in their community. How did the theft occur? Were there any safety precautions in place? Were the devices encrypted? What was the impact to the individual or business? Were the devices recovered? Students should attempt to answer these and any other questions that might be pertinent and write a brief report on their findings.
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