US Border Police Copy Visitors' Laptop Data

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iMONITOR

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Wait until the RIAA hears this! :cool:

US border police copy visitors' laptop data

6 May 2008 | 08:49 BST
By Nick Farrell
File sharing


THE LAND of the Free has officially become crazier at its borders and is now demanding that punters allow data on their laptops and mobile phones to be copied by airport officials.

New rules mean that visitors to the United States will face even longer queues as immigration officials download gigabytes of data from visitor’s laptops for snooping later.

Already visitors face long queues while armed officials take fingerprints and snaps of you as you enter the country now it looks like things are going to get much worse.

Travel agents' group Abta told the Mirror that it is getting silly in the US saying the new laws were not a good thing for passengers and the country had become Big Brother.

Abta was also worried that flat-footed IT illiterate staff could corrupt or wipe computer data
Security outfit Symantec said that the new rules were an ass, particularly if they tried to search everyone with a laptop. Dr Guy Bunker said that visitors to the US could wait in line for weeks if border guards were ordered to check everyone.

He thought it might be better for visitors to the US to leave their laptops behind or make sure that all the data is taken off it.

After all, you can just download all the files you need off the Interweb when you arrive and the security checks at the border absolutely pointless.

http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/05/06/goes-mad-border
 

Tim-in-TX

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It will never happen. The shear number of business travelers with laptops and the number of folks with cell phones will....DOES make this a totally unfeasible idea. It is just more tin-foil-hat-wearing, here comes big brother, scare tactics.
 

ibagli

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I don't think that they would plan on doing it to everyone, just like at land crossings they don't search everyone's trunk.
 

AZScanner

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I think this is much ado about nothing. They will simply use it as a tool, much the same as you would pull over a suspected drug dealer for a broken taillight.

The sheer logistics of such a thing would be mind boggling - have you ever copied an entire hard drive? The process can take HOURS. Therefore it won't be something that they do to everyone - only those people with intel indicating that a search of their computer might prove fruitful. Perhaps someone whom DHS has learned runs an extremist website out of Pakistan for example, all of a sudden they are at a border crossing with a laptop wanting in. Wouldn't you be curious to see who this yuk sends email to?

I agree however that there are so many ways around it that it's really not a viable option. A better method would be to simply intercept the emails people send as they go whizzing by, searching for keywords that might indicate something fishy is going on (something the NSA has already been doing for years, I hear).

-AZ
 

AZScanner

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dic said:
I may be wrong, but isn't the UK Inquirer the original role model for our rag the Enquirer?

Dic
I think so, but even so - like any good tabloid, the enquirer's stories usually start with a small tidbit of actual truth that is then bent and blown completely and totally out of proportion so it's very possible that a policy to search the laptops being brought into the country by "persons of interest" could become "OMFG THEY ARE GOING TO SEARCH ALL OUR LAPTOPZ ALERT TEH INTERWEBZ!!!one!one"

-AZ
 

AlexC

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AZScanner said:
The sheer logistics of such a thing would be mind boggling - have you ever copied an entire hard drive? The process can take HOURS.
This statement depends on several different factors. For the most part, using industry standard forensic tools, one can anticipate that it takes approximatly 1-1.5 hours to successfully aquire an 80gb hard drive. Most laptops have 40-80gb hard drives that most people carry around for "business." Not saying there aren't 160's or 250's etc, but 99% of the drives I would come across in the private industry are roughly 80gb hd's.

There are several differet techniques, software, etc that are out there which provide varying levels of "copy."

Without knowing the specific process that the government uses to make these copies, it's hard to comment on what kind of time is required to successfully collect it.

-Alex
 

cpuerror

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This is a real invasion of personal privacy. Not only that, but many business travellers carry confidential or sensitive information that they probably don't want to release and certainly should not be forced to without orders from a judge.

Most of us can just encrypt things, hide them, or just download what we need from our e-mail box or server later. But thats irrelevant, what matters is that most people don't know this is possible or have any idea how to do it, and their privacy will be completley lost.
 

ibagli

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cpuerror said:
This is a real invasion of personal privacy.
There's no such thing as "personal privacy" when entering a country.

cpuerror said:
Not only that, but many business travellers carry confidential or sensitive information that they probably don't want to release and certainly should not be forced to without orders from a judge.
Many business travelers carry sensitive paperwork and they've always been able to search that. Just like they have the right to read all incoming and outgoing mail.

cpuerror said:
Most of us can just encrypt things, hide them, or just download what we need from our e-mail box or server later.
Which is why I think this endeavor is pointless.
 
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iMONITOR

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cpuerror said:
Most of us can just encrypt things, hide them, or just download what we need from our e-mail box or server later. But thats irrelevant, what matters is that most people don't know this is possible or have any idea how to do it, and their privacy will be completley lost.

Although it's not mentioned in the article I posted today, I have read elsewhere that you will have to surrender your password on demand for any protected/hidden/encrypted files, or data. I'll try to find that source.
 

ibagli

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N467RX said:
There wont'be such thing as "personal privacy" until GWB leaves office.
Even then, you won't have it at the border.

GreatLakes said:
Although it's not mentioned in the article I posted today, I have read elsewhere that you will have to surrender your password on demand for any protected/hidden/encrypted files, or data.
That makes sense. If you came into the country with locked luggage, they may very well make you unlock it. If you drive into the country, they often make you open your trunk. I don't see this as any different, legally. Now, I don't think it will be of much use, though.
 
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cpuerror

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I wouldn't go naming it "This is an encrypted file with all of my information in it.RAR" Maybe something like pagefile.sys (after disabling the swap file) would be more appropiate. Or just copy it to a 4GB micro-SD card and hide it....somewhere...
 

AlexC

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If you guys believe that it's as easy as "hiding" a file on your hard drive, you seriously need to completely re-think your knowledge of computer security :)

I have a program which lets me hook up your hard drive and search for or see whatever I want... From your registry to your browser history, to a lovely gallery of what photo's reside on your computer.

Should you rename your files, I have a signature analysis I can do which will show me what the items really are. Want to exclude all the system files? I have hash listings for every operating system and patch that's out there, whcih easily exclude system files as being just that.

There's a lot of advanced work in this sort of stuff. It's a very neat and interesting field to be in.

If someone has your hard drive, it's pretty much all they need. Security just keeps the honest people out.

-Alex
 
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