Wednesday, April 20, 2005

If only something that important were on my laptop...


I have a message for one person in this audience - I'm sorry the rest of you have to sit through this. As you know, my computer was stolen in my last lecture. The thief apparently wanted to betray everybody's trust, and was after the exam.

The thief was smart not to plug the computer into the campus network, but the thief was not smart enough to do three things: he was not smart enough to immediately remove Windows. I installed the same version of Windows on another computer - within fifteen minutes the people in Redmond Washington were very interested to know why it was that the same version of Windows was being signalled to them from two different computers.

The thief also did not inactivate either the wireless card or the transponder that's in that computer. Within about an hour, there was a signal from various places on campus that's allowed us to track exactly where that computer went every time that it was turned on.

I'm not particularly concerned about the computer. But the thief, who thought he was only stealing an exam, is presently - we think - is probably still in possession of three kinds of data, any one of which can send this man, this young boy, actually, to federal prison. Not a good place for a young boy to be.

You are in possession of data from a hundred million dollar trial, sponsored by the NIH, for which I'm a consultant. This involves some of the largest companies on the planet, the NIH investigates these things through the FBI, they have been notified about this problem.

You are in possession of trade secrets from a Fortune 1000 biotech company, the largest one in the country, which I consult for. The Federal Trade Communication is very interested in this. Federal Marshals are the people who handle that.

You are in possession of proprietary data from a pre-public company planning an IPO. The Securities and Exchange Commission is very interested in this and I don't even know what branch of law enforcement they use.

To the person who might be thinking of stealing my laptop: you are in possession of 20 gigabytes of Bhangra and Hindi remix songs. Yes, I know they all sound the same -- what can I say, I have no taste? Oh, and there are about 5 megabytes containing some arcane scribblings on something called Secularism, that is currently of no interest whatsoever to the FBI, the Federal Marshals, or indeed, the congressional or the executive branches of the American government. If you haven't already reformatted the drive, go ahead and do so now.


Anonymous said...

Woah. Heinous, dude!

By the way, I'm glad to see you've made commenting a bit easier for some of us. Thanks Armadeep.

-Abdul-Walid of Acerbia

Anonymous said...

(And, Amardeep, sorry for misspelling your name!)