Protecting Your In-Car Electronics From Theft


Image via Flickr creative commons from  Jason Cartwright

Whether your car contains the latest in-car radio, fitted with Bluetooth and mp3 function, or your car radio is fairly old, you should always be conscious of keeping your in-car electronics out of sight when you park up. The reason for this? Many hundreds of cars are broken into every year on account of thieves trying to access the in-car electronics to sell on. By keeping your valuables out of sight, you will remove the possibility of your car being attractive to thieves. There are many ways to protect your car and its valuables – here are some further tips for ensuring that your in-car electronics are not stolen.

Park somewhere public

If you park your car in an unknown area, well out of sight of anyone and anything, there is a higher chance that you may come back to find that it has been broken into. Conversely, if you park your car in a very public place where there will constantly be people milling around, then this risk is lessened. The more people that are around, the less likely someone is to attempt to break in to your car, for fear of being caught.

Invest in a car alarm

An inexpensive way to stay on alert to thieves is to install an alarm on your car. All you have to do is activate this alarm when you lock your car and hey presto. The majority of cars these days do not come equipped with alarms which makes it easier for a break-in to occur unnoticed. If a thief is suddenly disturbed by a loud and wailing alarm, he is likely to move on pretty sharpish before he attracts the attention of somebody.

Make sure all windows are closed and all doors are locked

It may sound obvious to shut your car windows and to lock your car doors but think about it for a moment: it’s a really hot and sunny day so all of your car windows have been open to allow plenty of air to circulate. When you come to a standstill, it is likely that you will once again feel the warmth of outside radiating in and thus you won’t even think about closing the windows. It is a similar case with locking your door. Oh it won’t matter because I’ll only be in the shop for a minute. The next thing you know, there is a huge queue and you spend at least 15 minutes inside the shop. That is more than enough time for someone to open the car door and take anything valuable on display, without alerting anyone’s attention.

Hide your valuables

Rather than leaving your valuables on sight for all and sundry, you could transfer them to your glove box. Or better yet, as the majority of thieves will now break in to your car in the knowledge that valuables are stored there – store them in your car boot or take them out with you. A Halfords portable DVD player on full display is like a magnet to a thief. Likewise, if you have a Halfords GPS and you do not remove it from the window, anyone can see it. Remember the phrase, out of sight, out of mind? You should live by this motto when it comes to protecting your in-car electronics.

Make Sure you Don’t Give Away Confidential Information with Your Old PC


Image via Flickr creative commons from Razor 512

Making sure you recycle a computer, or any other electrical device, correctly is becoming more and more important. A typical laptop will include harmful components, such as mercury, lead, chromium and other heavy metals. If these end up in a landfill, they have the potential to contaminate the land and water around them.

Recycling is important and can help those who are less fortunate, by giving them access to a PC and potentially the internet. If this is the case, you need to make sure your device is completely wiped of personal data – this can be achieved by procedures such as Computer Disposal’s data destruction process.

Even if you do not intend to send your laptop onto someone else, it still needs to be wiped. It can be picked up by anyone once it has been thrown in a skip and they can harvest it for information to be used against you.

You need to be aware that deleting everything does not clear your hard drive. The same applies for formatting so you need to take a few further steps to make sure the laptop is completely blank. A real wipe of the hard drive requires special software.

In 2003, two students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology bought 158 used hard disks from eBay – from those, the discovered 5,000 credit card numbers, personal and corporate financial records, medical records and emails. Only twelve of the drives had been properly wiped.

The best thing you can do to avoid this is to invest in a proper disk-wiping programme or get a professional to do it for you. If you are going to do it manually, the first thing you need to do is back up all the files you want to keep; once you have finished there will be no chance of getting them back otherwise.

Next, you need to download a free data destruction programme or shredder. There are a number of ways to do this without such a programme, but these tend to take much of the hassle out of data destruction.

Then you need to burn the ISO file onto a disk before wiping the device as per the instructions of your programme.

If you are performing a manual clean up, there are going to be certain things you want to keep and an order through which to delete items and folders. Start the process with your personal folders and files. This should be followed by web settings and internet browsing history. Then, make sure you get rid of all emails. This is particularly important as you may think getting rid of stored bank information such as credit card numbers finishes with your web browsing – you may find out that you have detailed these in a past email.

Remember, when you wipe a hard drive the programmes you need to use and the specific processes will depend on your operating system. The method will be different between Windows 7, Windows 8 and XP, for instance. Make sure you research this thoroughly.

How Does The Enigma Machine Compare To Modern Encryption?


Image via Flickr creative commons from Erik Pitti

Messages written in some sort of code as estimated to date back for at least 2,000 years, and demonstrate that mankind has had a desire to conceal the content of information which it wants to send to a third party for as long as he has been in existence.

Morse code was invented in 1838, and is probably the world’s best-known example, remaining in use through much of World War I – until each side realised that messages could be easily decrypted if they were intercepted.


Taking the conflict up a notch

As a result, when hostilities were about to flare up again, the Germans started work on developing a new way of keeping secret messages which were intended solely for transmission between staff of one of the country’s armed forces. The German boffins’ response was the Enigma machine. Effectively it was similar to a manual typewriter of the day, but it was capable of encoding any message into a code which had 150,000,000,000,000,000,000 different combinations. The machine operated by an electric current being sent from the keyboard through a set of rotors and a plugboard, which illuminated the alphabetical code which was to be used. The codes were varied by changing the order of the rotors, their starting positions, and the order of the plugboard connections.

In this way, the Germans believed that their codes would be unbreakable, until the Allies realised that the only way they could do so was to build a prototype computer, and this was the job achieved by famed codebreakers led by Alan Turing, when they devised what became known as the ‘Bombe‘ machine. While other partly successful attempts had been made to break the Enigma codes, the Bombe provided the real breakthrough, and it and its team of operators helped bring the war to a swift and decisive end. They also used techniques similar to those described on this article on modern day hacking by Parcel2go, Social Engineering – The early enigma decryption relied heavily on finding cases when the German enigma machine operators had not followed proper procedure with their machines rendering the messages much easier to crack, often the same day they were received.


Mechanical v electronic

But whereas, because it was essentially a machine, Enigma’s code-breaking capacity was limited by its physical size. The advent of modern computers powered by a microchip packing massive processing power into a tiny space, therefore, was the key to scientists’ and mathematicians’ ability to take encryption to new levels.

As a result, experiments have been carried out comparing the length of time it would take for a modern-day computer to do the job of the Bombe. And a collaborative project has also been carried out in which a group of computing experts set out to break a message created using an Enigma machine which had, until then, remained uncracked.

At the time they were sent, in 1942, the Germans had considered the messages to be undecryptable. But this project began to disprove that – even if, in the words of the person who answered the question posed on Yahoo!, “brute force [is used] to test the encrypted message against all possible set-up configurations of the Enigma.”

Even then, the test bypassed the plugboard, meaning that a code produced by an Enigma machine, in its original form, might still have remained unbroken to this day, showing that, while new and more sophisticated codes have been devised – and broken – since, the original Enigma remains just that.