Securing a laptop

Discussion in 'privacy technology' started by ellison64, Sep 1, 2010.

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  1. ellison64

    ellison64 Registered Member

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    A friend of mine had his house burgled and the thief got away with his laptop.This got me thinking.I use my laptop for online banking among other things ,and also use roboform to autofill debit/credit cards etc ,so theres a lot of info on my laptop.All i have is a simple password to get into my laptop ,and i know that there is lots of software like password revealing cds that can be put in the cd drive at boot ,that will show log on passwords etc.So my question is
    1.Is there and really secure software that can "lock" a laptop so that if it were ever misplaced or stolen ,the hard drive or contents on it would be inaccessible?.I know that security services could read the harddrive ,but im talking about the opportunist thief that steals to make a quick buck.
    tia
    ellison
     
  2. markedmanner

    markedmanner Registered Member

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    I recommend using truecrypt and encrypt the entire drive. It will then ask for a password on boot to access the encrypted drive. No kind of boot disk will be able to access the data without the password. see here for info: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/ho...r_entire_hard_drive_for_free_using_true_crypt

    you could also employ a computer tracking program like: http://zapeze.com/ Where you can erase everything on the computer remotely if it is stolen. But if you use the truecrypt full drive encryption with a good password there is really no need for this.
     
  3. ellison64

    ellison64 Registered Member

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    Hi..
    Thanks for the suggestion of truecrypt.It seems to be just the thing im looking for.As a non techie ,are there any cons to this sort of software?.For example i regularly backup with shadow protect.Would this type of software affect any backup or security software such as antivirus by encrypting the files?,and if the av has protection would it stop true crypt from encrypting its files? or am i not understanding the nature of truecrypt correctly?.
    tia
    ellison
     
  4. korben

    korben Registered Member

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  5. Mem

    Mem Registered Member

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    Check your BIOS on startup. If it has a Security section it may allow setting an internal hard disk drive password-newer PC's have this ability. It will be needed on startup/restart/resume from standby to access the disk and it will travel with the disk if the disk is moved to another PC.
     
  6. xxJackxx

    xxJackxx Registered Member

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    From my understanding and the reason I haven't done this very thing yet is that when backing up it creates a backup file the size of the entire partition and incremental/differential backups are pointless due to their size if you backup offline. If you backup online the backups are unencrypted. Restoration can be an issue as well. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, which I would like to be. ;)
     
  7. ellison64

    ellison64 Registered Member

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  8. ellison64

    ellison64 Registered Member

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    That sounds like a good idea .My laptop is newish so i will check that now
    ellison
     
  9. ellison64

    ellison64 Registered Member

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    The bios in my laptop has options for setting a password for "USER" "SUPERVISOR" or "HDD".
    Ive set for hdd which i belive is the hard drive and indeed when i boot ,im asked for a password to boot up.But what are the user and supervisor passwords for?
    p.s the hdd password is only asked for after a shutdown ,not a restart (on my machine)
    tia
    ellison
     
  10. Mem

    Mem Registered Member

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    Not sure of your exact settings but I'm used to seeing three passwords in BIOS:

    Administrator-this will require a separate password to change BIOS settings.
    System-this is a BIOS password to start up the PC. Usually replaced by the Administrator password if it is set.
    Internal HDD-is set within the HDD so it travels with it if placed in another PC.

    As an example, the System password would be required on startup only but you would still have access to the BIOS settings and Boot menu. The admin password would be required for BIOS settings access and startup. The HDD usually locks the drive for startup/restart/resume situations. Yours must be different and you would need to check the BIOS help or manual for your PC to be sure.
     
  11. ellison64

    ellison64 Registered Member

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    Thanks for the info.Ive just googled and one article mentions that a wrong hdd password entered more than 3 times can result in an inoperable laptop.I dont know if this is fact or if it applies to all hdd passwords and laptops,I just hope i dont forget my password after ive had a few beers :)
    ellison
     
  12. markedmanner

    markedmanner Registered Member

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    Does this protect from hooking the drive up as a slave? I have also heard that Ultimate Boot CD has a program that can reset the hdd password. Then there is always this to: http://www.hddunlock.com/

    Truecrypt definitely the most secure way. But most thieves probably wouldnt figure out a way to get past the hdd password anyway...
     
  13. ellison64

    ellison64 Registered Member

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    I was just looking at at hddunlock wizard ,but apparently it doesnt work on 64bit systems.....yet.I think truecrypt is probably more secure ,but this hdd password seems the simplest.I guess the safest thing ,(though not the most convienent) would be to not store any confidential material on the laptop at all.
    ellison
     
  14. Mem

    Mem Registered Member

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    The HDD password will not allow a slave drive setup with the password protected drive. The unlock programs (one of which you point out) erase the data on the drive and re-certify it so your info is safe since it is gone. The AF recovery service that they supply requires you to send the drive to them and they say they can remove the passord and recover the erased data. I haven't tried that service so I have no idea how they certify the submitter as the drive owner or what the cost is.

    For the type of protection the poster asked for in the original post, I'd think the HDD password would be enough.
     
  15. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    I recommend using a Linux LiveCD. No traces, password stored nowhere.
     
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