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CNET News Video: Daily Debrief: Secure your data while traveling
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CNET News Video: Daily Debrief: Secure your data while traveling

5:28 /

Traveling internationally with computer equipment requires more security precautions than you might think. On Thursday's Daily Debrief, CNET's Kara Tsuboi and Elinor Mills discuss a recent airport incident involving famed hacker Kevin Mitnick, as well as lessons to be gleaned for travelers with sensitive data to protect.

[ music] ^M00:00:04 >> Welcome to the Daily Debrief. I'm CNET's Kara Suboy, here with CNET News senior writer Eleanor Mills, who covers security for our site. And Eleanor, we're talking about a couple of really interesting recent developments going on. One, Kevin Mitnick [assumed spelling], and his recent flight from Bogota to Atlanta, and how he was stopped in the airport. And this may just sound incidental, but it actually brings up a lot of interesting points about the rest of us when we travel internationally. Why don't you explain what happened. >> Well he got red flagged, and pulled aside, and they searched through his baggage, and he has a lot of laptops and computer equipment. But simultaneously, he had just gotten a phone call from a friend in Bogota saying oh the policy want to open up a box you sent you sent back to yourself for cocaine. So he was thinking that maybe you know, he's set up with some you know, drug related thing, and it turned out that the incidents were totally separately you know - >> Not related. >> - just coincidental, not related. >> Right. >> There was no you know, drugs found on the you know, in the box or anything, and he was cleared on both sides. But in the Atlanta airport, he was held for four hours, often his cell phone was taken from him, and his laptop was searched. They didn't, they let him go eventually, and was cleared of any wrong doing, but he was, and he also is very, takes extraordinary measures to protect his security and his privacy on his laptops for himself and for his customers that he consults with. He encrypts his hard drive. When he's outside of the country he sends through encrypted transmissions, he sends his confidential data to servers in the U.S. And so this is, because at the border they can take your laptop and search it for any reason whatsoever. >> Right. >> So he knows this, he knows that this is a policy. So he protects himself. So he was fine, but he was you know, just because of his background you know, for serving time for breaking into computer networks, he thought you know, well maybe they'll do something else. >> Right. >> So he did you know, much more than most of us do when we travel. >> Oh absolutely. >> But it's a good sort of cautionary tale that this can happen to anyone. They can pull you aside for any reason - >> Mm-hmm. >> - search and seize your equipment. Which leads us to the point of you know, should we even use encryption. >> How many of us do? >> Very few. >> Very few. >> Very few. A lot of you know, well we do actually every day when we use our browsers to search sensitive websites. >> It's nothing that we're proactively doing though. >> It's something that's going on behind the scenes - >> Absolutely. >> - with you know, the technology. And it's providing us some measure of security when we're visiting some websites. But as far as our own personal data, you know, very few people I know are actually using it to encrypt their email or encrypt their hard drive. But with so many laptops getting stolen and lost - >> Mm-hmm. >> There have been stories about government laptops, the data there getting breached and exposed. >> Sure. >> People are becoming more aware of it. >> Absolutely, and just wireless security breaches as well, which I know you've been a part of earlier this year. >> Yeah. >> Yeah. So you tried out a few of these encryption email services. >> Yes, I did. >> And you weren't totally pleased. >> You know, it's easier than it used to be. >> Okay. >> They're really you know, boosting up the ease of use, but it's not really friendly for my mother or your neighbor, you know, like a lot of us would have trouble using it. I mean I even had you know, customer support helping me, but that's because I was also on a deadline for this story. You have to, and the biggest problem actually is that if I want to communicate with you - >> Mm-hmm. >> - securely, you then have to use the same software. >> Right. >> So there are so many people that, for me to contact everyone, let them know what my keys are, my you know, information to securely communicate back with me, then they've got to install the software, it's a more complex process than we want to do now. We're used to just going to a website, logging into our email, and then it's done. >> Type in the message, send it, back and forth. Yeah, not to mention some of the software is a hundred and fifty dollars or upwards, and it sounds like it was kind of slow too. >> It's okay, yes, it did, there was a performance degradation as it was looking for the keys to oh is this person she's communicating with, you know, do they have a key. So for me, I decided that I'm not gonna be using it right now. You know, corporations are using it, and it's, there is no, you know, they've solved all the key management issues, and a lot of the performance issues. So there are software packages that companies can use that sort of make it you know, a brainless process for the workers, which is good. >> So after your test and trials, and after Kevin Mitnick who did spend five years in prison for hacking - >> Yeah. >> - eight years ago, a long time ago, but his recent experience, what can we conclude? Or what can we recommend that people do to try to protect and secure their data? >> If you have sensitive data, if you're doing you know, government work, if you have things that are really, really confidential that you don't want to, you know, the government to seize, or anyone else to get, consider, look at these products. Full disc encryption, your hard drive is probably more important to protect right now - >> Sure. >> - than the data that's sent over you know, email. >> And that's easier to do - >> It is easier to do. >> - by just creating a backup at home - >> Absolutely. >> - and leaving it in a secure place. >> Yeah. >> Great, thank you very much. >> Thank you. >> Eleanor Mills, I'm Kara Suboy. We'll see you on the next Daily Debrief.

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