[ISN] The Considerate Computer Crook (physical security)

From: mea culpa (jerichot_private)
Date: Tue Sep 22 1998 - 19:12:54 PDT

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    Forwarded From: phreak moi <hackerelitet_private>
    The Considerate Computer Crook
    When Foster Associates-- a small San Francisco consulting firm-- opened
    for business one morning, everything seemed to be normal. Little did the
    firm know that it had been victimized by the city's only known considerate
    computer crook.  By Luke Reiter
    "When we walked in that morning, you couldn't tell anything had happened,"
    said Paul Sedita, the company's business manager. Everything, he
    explained, was exactly where it should have been. 
    But when a company vice president attempted to use his new Dell, Pentium
    II, 266-Megahertz computer, he found that it wouldn't turn on.  Further
    investigation revealed that the firm's other two new Dell computers were
    having the same difficulty. While other computers were functioning well,
    the Dells were entirely dead. 
    "At first I thought it was a power surge and the fuses blew," Sedita said.
    "So I got on the phone with Dell technical support to find out where the
    fuses are and what I should do." 
    But the problem wasn't nearly so easy to resolve. "Somebody opened up one
    of the boxes and noticed the memory, the processors, and the hard drives
    were all missing," Sedita said. 
    That's right-- an unidentified thief had opened up the machines, stolen
    their hard drives, memory chips, and Pentium II processors, and then put
    each machine back exactly where it was. 
    "From the outside, you couldn't tell anything had happened,"  Sedita said.
    "Everything was put back together very neatly. They did a fine job." 
    After removing the parts, the thief (or thieves) then left the office,
    which had been secured by a locked deadbolt, entered the elevator, and
    walked right past the building's security guard. By taking only the
    computers' parts, he was likely able to conceal them in a small bag, or
    even his jacket. 
    "They were very skillful. Very very saavy," said Sedita. "First of all, we
    have absolutely no idea how they got through security. How they got into
    the office. And you have to have skills to do what they did. It was
    actually fairly impressive." 
    Not quite as impressive, however, was Dell's response to the company's
    predicament. Despite several attempts to purchase the missing parts,
    Sedita said, there were repeated delays. 
    "Dell seemed to have a hard time getting us the spare parts. I really
    can't blame them. After a while, it had just become apparent that they
    were having a lot of trouble getting the parts out of their warehouse." 
    So much trouble, in fact, that the company eventually gave up.  Deciding
    that it was more efficient to simply start over, Foster Associates bought
    three more Dell computers. 
    Since then, the first three have been rebuilt and have rejoined the
    company's ranks. 
    So who could have committed such a well-executed crime? 
    Clearly someone who knew what he was looking for. And by putting the
    computers back where they were, the crook probably considered the theft
    humorous.  As an additional factor, the deadbolt on the front door was
    only slightly damaged. 
    All of which might suggest an "inside" job. 
    But Sedita dismissed the possibility, apparently confident that unknown
    perpetrators were responsible. 
    "They were very neat. They were quite considerate," he said.  "Confused us
    a little bit, but they didn't leave a mess." 
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