Dec 08 2008
I rarely fly outside the US. In fact, in the last year I’ve only done it once and will be doing so for a second time this week. I am about as white bread American as you can get, but I still worry about having my laptops searched by the DHS. I know the government says they only search a small fraction of all systems coming across the border, but if you’ve ever seen the hacking stickers on my Mac Book Pro, then there is a possibility that some agent out there might think that gives them a valid reason to search my laptop. Last time I came through, they swabbed my Mac Book for explosives after all.
My personal computer has a lot of stuff on it, but nothing I’d be worried about someone else seeing, but my work laptop is a different beast all together. I have a lot of sensitive information about clients on it, including screen shots of their software configuration, firewall configurations, policies, not to mention all the contact information and correspondence with said clients. I doubt there’s anything I have that would shut down a business, but in the wrong hands the information I have could cause more than a few companies some late night sessions resetting passwords and changing configurations. That’s why the drive is encrypted and I have a passphrase that’s more than 30 characters long.
So what happens if I’m stopped at the border and asked to type in my password? If it’s my personal computer, I’ll probably say go for it and give type in the password. But if it’s my work computer, where do I draw the line? I’ll be coming back later in the week, I’ll be tired and want to get back to my family. Do I say no, call my corporate council and prepare to be detained for however long it takes things to get worked out? Do I bend my own morals and let them have what they want? Or is there another alternative?
Seriously, I have absolutely no expectation of something like this happening. On the other hand, it won’t hurt to have the company lawyer’s card handy as well as contact information for the Electronic Freedom Frontier. You never know what’ll happen if I’m sleep deprived enough to get really beligerant on my way home. Can I tell the border agent I’ve met their supreme leader, Secretary Chertoff?