Sometimes a counter-spy's secret weapon
is Altoids, the curiously strong mints.
How to keep your electronics secure when traveling overseas, or in other hostile territory:
H.D. Moore wasn't taking chances.Read the rest of the article: How the pros thwart computer spies with James Bond tricks. Whether they're jamming crushed Altoids mints into screw holes or prepping themselves to swallow Micro SD cards, some travelers are now going to extreme lengths to defend against foreign snoops. C/Net>>
During the spring of 2009, the information specialist traveled to Shanghai on a work trip. For a computer, though, he carried only a stripped down Netbook that he modified using a trick even James Bond would have admired. He sawed off the end of one of the laptop case screws and mashed a small bit of a crushed Altoids mint into the hole before putting the screw back in. After leaving it in his hotel room for a few hours, he came back to find that the powder had disappeared. Something had caused the battery to fail, and one of the three passwords protecting his machine had been wiped.
"More than likely it was tampered with," Moore, chief security officer at security firm Rapid7, said. While he concedes a "slim chance" that the battery just happened to die when he left the room, he notes that it's odd for dead batteries to start working again upon reboot, as his did. Not to mention the fact that the powder in the screwhole would have had to displace itself at the same time.
Welcome to the world of international corporate espionage, where USB sticks are a favored tools for spies and bribable hotel workers are a dime a dozen. The problem is rampant, particularly in China, where the secrets in laptops of U.S. officials and businessmen can reshape an industry or change the course of a war.