Sunday, June 12, 2005

iPods and Data Theft

iPods are devices that can be used to steal data and have become status symbols that have been known to attract more violent crimes, such as mugging. Essentially, the iPod is a hard drive and can hold a lot of information. This article (which can be viewed by clicking on the title) states that iPods have been used by identity thieves and even Apple employees to steal corporate secrets. This information came from the former head of information security at Apple, Derrick Donelly. Donelly is now working at a company (Black Bag Technologies) that creates forensic hardware and software to retrieve information from iPods and Macintosh Computers.

There are a lot of options out there to find data on Windows operating systems. Apparently, it is more difficult with Apple products. Macs automatically connect external disk drives to the operating system, which is known as mounting. When this occurs, evidence is often destroyed. Donelly is also in the business of training the authorities how to gather evidence from Macs without destroying it.

A primary reason for this is that the Mac OSX operating system allows built in data encryption. By simply dragging a file to a folder, it is scrambled so completely, that allegedly the CIA couldn't decipher it.

Apple products are well known for their superior features in preventing intrusion, which is why some criminals might find them desirable. On the other hand, this is a reason why many legitimate users would prefer them also.

Besides i-Pods, there are a lot of devices out there, such as cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras and others that can be used to steal information. A University of Michigan study last year revealed that 70 percent of identity thefts originated out of a workplace. Criminal gangs have been known to plant people in organizations for just this purpose.

Realistically, if most identity theft originates out of the workplace, it can be taken out in a number of ways, including documents. Effective personnel screening and resources to investigate and prosecute are the key to defeat wrongdoing. Computers only do what they are told and it is people, who commit these acts in order to profit. The mind figures out how to beat the system and only another mind will defeat those who choose to do so.

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