Leave home without it

The crowds at the Beijing Olympics, which begin Friday, will no doubt include the usual smorgasbord of international officials, dignitaries and the countless aides who travel with them. And if all those important people aren't careful with their digital devices, it could be a feast of intelligence gathering for China ' or other countries, for that matter.

Olympic visitors who carry any kind of sensitive or classified information got a cautionary lesson recently, when The Times of London reported that a senior adviser to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had his BlackBerry stolen while on a trip to China in January. This was not some 21st-century, script-driven theft, but a gambit as old as espionage itself. The aide met a woman at a disco and he later took her back to his hotel room. She apparently left with his BlackBerry, and U.K. officials suspect that Chinese intelligence agents were behind it.

U.K. officials said that even if the BlackBerry ' password protected but not encrypted ' did not contain sensitive information, it could be used to hack into the Downing Street server. Of course, device encryption would help, but a better idea might be to just travel light: Don't take anything you don't absolutely need or can't afford to lose.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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