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Stolen laptop - how to increase security?

[pre-scriptum: if anybody thinks this has nothing to do with the
debian-laptop, please redirect me]


Some of you may have read one of my last mail in the list on the 29th. Don't
bother to answer the questions as my nice little laptop disappeared from my
office yesterday while I was at home due to flooding in my apartment. Bad
day :(

Anyway, I just had a quick look to the security chapter in the Laptop HOW-TO
and in the Security HOW-TO as well. I think that security associated with
laptop devices require specific attention.

I also would like to know what could be done to enhance the security

My goal is to try to make an up-to-date list of the current means to secure
both the hardware and the data (for a laptop). What I think is important is
not only list the protection method but their drawbacks and level of
protection/ways of cracking them.
I know that this is not the perfect list to send this message to, but maybe
some debian users have had some bad experience as well and perhaps some of
them recovered their worktool/jewel, so we might be able to share something
before going further. As my laptop was running Debian Potato I feel the need
to share that within the family first :)

What can be extracted from our discussions could be proposed as a security
paragraph for the laptop HOW-TO and /or a laptop paragraph on the security
HOW-TO. I would prefer the second one.

Here's what I think can be done (LAP identifies things that have a more
important effect when used on a laptop compared to the desktop):

-- before the stealing --
+ (LAP) note the serial number in a secure place. This will be necessary if
your laptop get stolen.
+ use a BIOS password. This can apparently be reset depending on the type.
Jumper reset, use of a BIOS reseter, etc...

+ use Boot Loader Security. both password and startup message describing
your name, phone, etc.
+ (LAP) link xlock to apm services. Maybe someone can provide a script for

+ (LAP) 'tricks': A list of things I would combine to gain 0.01% chance of
recovery in case of stealing. Always remove the external devices and secure
them in another place/room. Set the BIOS to boot on the hard disk first as a
default setting and remove boot on other devices if possible. Also try to
plug the power supply in the least accessible plug. So if your machine get
stolen in your office the 'quick way' (e.g. during a 5 sec. cigarette
break), the stealer won't perhaps have time to get the power supply, neither
the time to get the drives. Perhaps he/she will end up with a less useful
laptop and you may recover it.

-- after the stealing --
+ report it to the police station ASAP.
+ check the local newsgroup (in case...) or even post in it.

-- enhancements ? --
+ some manufacturers have now a second boot password (IBM)
+ smart card protected boot ?

+ use of software that connects and identifies itself?.

I would appreciate any idea that could help us to increase our security.

Perhaps do you have some comment on these points?

FN:Jérôme Lacoste
ORG:Smart Card Systems A.S.
TITLE:Software Engineer
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