A Berkeley professor explains the terrifying consequences that will soon befall the student that stole his laptop:
“I have a message for one person in this audience and I’m sorry the rest of you have to sit through this.
As you know my computer was stolen in my last lecture. The thief clearly wanted to betray everyone’s trust; it was after the exam. The thief was smart not to plug the computer into the campus network. But the thief was not smart enough to do three things.
He was not smart enough to immediately remove Windows. I installed the same version of Windows on another computer; within 15 minutes the people in Redmond Washington were very interested to know, why it was that the same version of windows was being signaled to them from two different computers.
The thief also did not inactivate either the wireless card or the transponder that’s in that computer. Within about hour there was a signal from various places on campus which allowed us to track exactly where that computer went and every time that it was turned on.
I’m not particularly concerned about the computer but the thief who thought he was only stealing an exam is presently… we think… probably still in possession of three different kinds of data, any one of which of which can send this man… this young boy actually, to Federal prison. Not a good place for a young boy to be.
You are in possession of data from $100 million trial sponsored by the NIH for which I am a consultant. This involves some of the largest companies on the planet. The NIH investigates these things through the FBI — they have been [..] notified about this problem. You are in possession of trade secrets from a fortune 1000 biotech company — the largest one in the country which I consult for. The Federal Trade [Commission] is very interested in this. The Federal Marshals are the people whom handle that. You are in possession of proprietary data from a pre-public company planning an IPO. The Securities and Exchange Commission is very interested in this and I don’t even know what branch of law enforcement they use. Your academic career is about to come to an end. You are facing very serious charges with the probability of very serious time.
At this point there is very little that anybody can do you for you. The one thing that you can do for yourself is to somehow prove that the integrity of the data which you posses has not been corrupted or copied. Ironically, I am the only person on the planet that can come to your aid because I am the only person that can tell whether the data that was on that computer are still on that computer. You’ll have to find a way, of hoping, that if you copied anything you can prove that you only have one copy of whatever was made.
I am tied up all this afternoon, I am out of town all of next week. You have until 11:55 to return the computer and whatever copies you’ve made to my office because I’m the only hope you’ve got of staying out of deeper trouble than you or any student that I’ve ever known has ever been in.
I apologize to the rest of you for having to bring up this distasteful matter. But I will point out that we have a partial image of this person. We have two eye witnesses to the transponder data. We are going to get this person. Thank you.”