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May 09, 2010

The Self-Destruct File

One of my most important possessions was stolen last night when the Hashrocket office was burglarized: my 17" MacBook Pro, which has had a permanent home on my desk since I got a MacBook Air about a year ago. The thieves also got some of our iMac workstations and a couple of 30" monitors. Today has not been a happy afternoon for me.

The incident (and the subsequent trouble I'm going through pulling SSH keys and changing passwords on everything) has me thinking that perhaps there should be a sort of "self-destruct" file on the desktop. It would have to be named in a honeypot fashion that would seem irresistible to thieves and anyone nosing around your system without your permission. So maybe it would be named "account_numbers.txt" or something like that. When they double clicked it, a series of events would happen. First the computer should turn on the camera and snap a photograph and send it along with IP address and any other information that could be gleaned from the local network. (If the computer was offline, maybe it would wait until it got connectivity?)

Finally, if not disabled within a few seconds in some way that the thief would not be aware of, the computer would delete everything sensitive as well as disabling itself for future use - "bricking itself."

I can't be the first to have had these kinds of thoughts. It sucks big time to get your stuff stolen.

The sad part of this whole affair is that we've normally been very happy-go-lucky and easygoing about guests and even strangers visiting the office. Not to mention all the photos and videos online of us in our offices showing tons of nice equipment. The list of potential suspects is huge and we know we were targeted in particular. This world seems perfectly designed to kill idealism and make you cynical as you grow older.


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