Laptop stolen from idiot

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hlf2888
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Laptop stolen from idiot

Post by hlf2888 » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:18 am

Uno momento de stupido for one person is a moment of opportunity for someone else. I took my eyes off my knapsack at the bus terminal in Santiago for less than a minute. We were on the bus before departure and my seat was on the main floor near the door. The knapsack was on the floor in front of my seat. I helped my Mom with her seat belt, she had the seat in front of me. When I looked again, it was gone. It had my laptop and the back up hard drive for my laptop. Four years of digital records of my life, plus all the short stories I wrote in that time frame. The knapsack also had all my financial records for citizenship, bank statements, investment accounts, old cellphone, prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses and books.

I spoke to the bus driver, he could not do anything but sympathize. Yes, there was a camera that recorded everything on the bus but he could not access it. Only the head office could access the recording . Even though I had the exact 5 minute time frame that it happened, lo siento, es imposible. I even had a suspect in mind. A man boarded the bus after me and was near my knapsack when I was helping Mom. He got off the bus, and 10 minutes later he returned, his knapsack bulging. He got off an hour before me but the driver was not comfortable asking him to open his knapsack. And the driver could not contact head office and ask them to review the 5 minutes when it was stolen. He seemed genuinely sorry he could not help. I guess a stolen knapsack is not important enough to warrant viewing the recording until they were ready. He did have a bright idea. Call my cell phone. But my cellphone had not been activated. I was going to actívate it again once I got to my home in Chile. I left my good phone in NA.

I am wondering if there is a chop shop for laptops of stupid gringos, an unmarked doorway on a side street near the terminal. Has it been dismantled and sold for parts, or did a relentless hacker work until the wee small hours of the morning to break my four letter code, four letters as in fool.

I am wondering if there is any way to retrieve my documents and hard drive. A lost and found website in Santiago. Perhaps the thief grabbed the laptop and left the rest and someone found it. Yes, I have already contacted Pullman and the terminal. Any leads on a widely-read Santiago lost and found link greatly appreciated.

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Space Cat
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Re: Laptop stolen from idiot

Post by Space Cat » Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:05 pm

hlf2888 wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:18 am
It had my laptop and the back up hard drive for my laptop. Four years of digital records of my life, plus all the short stories I wrote in that time frame. The knapsack also had all my financial records for citizenship, bank statements, investment accounts, old cellphone, prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses and books.
Ouch, I’m really sorry.

Everybody, please, please, please use the cloud services to prevent sad stories like this. You can get free 2gb from Dropbox and it will be enough to store all your documents and even some photos.

If you are worried about corporations and governments peeking into your data, create a small encrypted volume for sensitive information and also keep it in the cloud directory.

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fraggle092
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Re: Laptop stolen from idiot

Post by fraggle092 » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:48 pm

That's a shame, but don't be so hard on yourself. There are professionals who make a living stealing valuables from bus terminals all over this country.

Couple of years ago I was offered an almost brand-new, top-of-the line Intel i7 laptop in a roundabout way by one of those thieves, who had obviously no idea of its hardware value. They wanted $100.000 for it, a ridiculously low value. I refused.

These stolen laptops are routinely reformatted to remove any installed security or tracking software, so your personal info is probably long gone.

I use a small TrueCrypt volume for private data, with copies all over the place on hard drives and usb sticks and in my Dropbox. Free and non-proprietary.
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admin
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Re: Laptop stolen from idiot

Post by admin » Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:32 pm

you are the second person i know to have a laptop stolen at the santiago bus station, with a book draft on the drive. i simply would not go there with anything of value.

I don't know if most foreigners realize this, but the closer you get to the southern (poorer end of) santiago, the amount of crime (especialy pick pockets) goes up; or any place with good public transportation. it is simply easier and cheaper for the thieves to reach their hunting grounds. so, eyes open in places like the central station, metros, buses of any type, Costanera Center Mall, dowtown, etc. it is also why student protests rarely make it to los condes. it costs money to get there.

as for backups, i would never let my data touch the cloud unencrypted, but that is easily solved these days.

backup, backup, backup

the 1-2-3 backup rule:

1. Have at least three copies of your data.
2. Store the copies on two different media.
3. Keep one backup copy offsite ( away from the other).

i would add, at least two diffrent countries / geographies.

i keep data in two diffrent hemispheres, and three diffrent physical locations; including a copy that is always ready to go with my bug out kit. normaly a hot swap drive from my office server i pull about once a week, and i leave under the seat of my car.

first, thing i did after the 2010 earthquake hit, was pull the hot swap drive from my office server. i figure with all the data on hand, i can rebuild our entire biz from an internet cafe in another city or even country if needed.

i take this a bit further. i use versioning snapshot system. i use rsnapshots because it is based on rsynce and ssh allowing for native encrypted tunnels, that i can pull data from another computer anywhere in the world automaticaly, and only transfer the bits that has changed since the last snapshot minmizing the bandwidth usage.

that creats a cascading set of snapshots, hourly, weekly, monthly, that does not take much more data than a simple copy. full copy + changes in each version that is automaticaly checksumed for integrety against existing data.

the hot swap drives, also keep a hot copy avaible to speed recoveries. trying to copy a couple terabytes of data, even off the fastest usb drives, is a long slow processes. i gave up on things like dvds a decade ago. just too much data to manage. we keep a lot of long term data in our biz, that could need to be accessed at anytime. i just accessed the files from our second client that ever hired us this week.

versions are important, because sometimes by the time you realize your data is corrupted, a long time has passed. for example, you open those family photos very rarely, so you would never know the data went bad 6 months ago and you have been backing up the corrupted files.

somewhere right now, one of my computers is running a snapshot backup of something, that satisfies the 1-2-3 rule and then some.
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Re: Laptop stolen from idiot

Post by admin » Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:45 pm

also, automated backups are best, because they get done without you needing to to remeber to do them; but, test your backups (and your configurations for auto backups) once in a while to make sure it is doing what you think it is doing.

more than once i have gone to swap drives, and realized that say something like a hard drive did not mount correctly after a restart or a remote server was down and a backup script choked in the middle and did not resume the way it should.

i like to think i have worked out everything that could possibly go wrong, but it is always the black swan that you don't think about that bites you in the rear. in fact, almost all of my backup strategy is built on hard learned lessons where i got bit in the rear. every time it happens, my backup strategy gets revised to cover that situation.
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RuneTheChookcha
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Re: Laptop stolen from idiot

Post by RuneTheChookcha » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:00 pm

hlf2888 wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:18 am
I am wondering if there is a chop shop for laptops of stupid gringos, an unmarked doorway on a side street near the terminal. Has it been dismantled and sold for parts, or did a relentless hacker work until the wee small hours of the morning to break my four letter code, four letters as in fool.
There appears to be a well functioning market for stolen laptops.

If the unit has system BIOS locked by password, or maybe active computrace (or a similar BIOS-level anti-theft protection) -- it is destined to be sold for parts, and the tracing is very problematic.

Otherwise, the machine either goes to be sold off the street (here in Valpo, just across the bus station, there is kind of a daily flea market featuring mostly all sorts of cell phones, but episodically -- a good notebook appears for a short while, maybe just for several hours, pricing way below the market, somewhere between 50 and 100 mil CLP), or -- you may look for it on the Net.

The site like yapo is a good example. Chances are that the stolen laptop, properly re-formatted, newly installed with the standard "Win 10 Pro, Office 2016" package (activated with a special tool, like KMS-Pico, which makes the Win/Office activation genuinely looking) is already published on yapo, most probably in the central region, Santiago, but maybe in any other, priced seriously below the usual market rate. Say, if the market for your brand goes around 250.000 CLP, the notebook in question may well be presented in the 80.000 -- 120.000 range. Or even less than that. If so -- it goes to the new owner in a couple of hours, or maximum in a couple of days. If sold, the yapo website no longer lists the item, but Google cache still may have its traces, try searching Google using the "your-model site:yapo.cl" key-phrase.

For example, this links gives you the Dell Latitude line:
https://www.yapo.cl/chile/computadores? ... ps=0&pe=13

If, by chance, you see your item there, you may consider buying it back, or just arrange for a meeting with the vendor.

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Re: Laptop stolen from idiot

Post by admin » Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:14 am

all stolen laptop "recovery" software can be removed that i am aware of.

fatal flaw in all of it is it needs to be connect to the internet to work, then have some ability to back trace an ip correctly. good luck getting a judge to issue an order to search some random house based on a dynamic ip address, in any sort of resonable time frame.

i am not aware of any of that recovery software that could survive a bios flash or even just a bios reset. there might be a few high end laptops with their own seperate chips on the mother board, but those also depend on being configured correctly and paying for the service to monitor them (think all the vcrs flashing 12:00).

the only question is if the thieves know how to do it, or care to do it.
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Re: Laptop stolen from idiot

Post by admin » Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:41 am

my last two laptops that were stolen had built in self-destruct. i totaly did not have security in mind when i did it. i was just trying to salvage a broken laptop.

they had hardware issues, that i had hacked to make work. if you did not boot them in just the right way, with just the right software, they would turn in to bricks and hose the data on the drive. definitly no one was going to ever just boot a copy if windows on them. one took me three weeks of trial and error to load a super obscure linux distro, to create a boot chain with special custum scripts to work around the problem. when they got stolen, i was just like 'good luck with that paper weight'.
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Re: Laptop stolen from idiot

Post by hlf2888 » Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:24 pm

Obsessive-compulsive has its perks admin ;-)

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Re: Laptop stolen from idiot

Post by admin » Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:52 pm

hlf2888 wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:24 pm
Obsessive-compulsive has its perks admin ;-)
well actuely most the lessons were learned the hard way, simply because i was not obsessive enophe about backup-data hygiene. after you spend 12 hours scrapping zeros and ones off a failed drive to reconstruct a handful critical files, you never neglect the backups again.
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Re: Laptop stolen from idiot

Post by nwdiver » Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:58 pm

admin wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:52 pm
hlf2888 wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:24 pm
Obsessive-compulsive has its perks admin ;-)
well actuely most the lessons were learned the hard way, simply because i was not obsessive enophe about backup-data hygiene. after you spend 12 hours scrapping zeros and ones off a failed drive to reconstruct a handful critical files, you never neglect the backups again.
Yeh, you only have to do it once........
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Re: Laptop stolen from idiot

Post by Gloria » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:15 pm

Sorry for your loss. In the land of scammers and thieves, the hand is quicker than the eye. :wink:
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