Skip to comments.Best Buy's Geek Squad Finds Child Porn on Janitor's Computer, Janitor Arrested
Posted on 01/17/2008 6:03:54 PM PST by Teflonic
Best Buy's Geek Squad isn't exactly known for respecting people's property. This time, however, instead of us catching them, they caught a guy with child porn.
A middle school custodian sent in a hard drive back in August of 2007 to recover lost data. Upon performing their usual search (and invasion of personal privacy), the Geek Squadders at a Twin Cities location found over 800 images of young girls between the ages of 7 and 15 in various states of undress and performing sexual acts. The Geek Squad promptly turned the evidence over to the police. The police eventually obtained a search warrant and -- upon execution -- found more evidence in the janitor's home.
While we would like to say that this guy is sick and deserves whatever punishment he gets, we are disturbed by the conduct of Geek Squad employees who seem to make it a habit of going through customer data. Whether or not the data is illegal and leads to arrest, warrantless searches by non-law-enforcement personnel is disturbing on an ethical level and we're pretty sure unconstitutional.
this goes on all the time......many PC repair joints routinely turn in illegal stuff they see.
But it would certainly form probably cause for them to search the guy’s house, which they did, and found other corroborating evidence. Now if the search of the house came up clean, he might get away with claiming what you said.
Sure of that? and can you prove it beyond a reasonable doubt?
If I’m invited into your home do i have the right to rummage thru your dresser draws? Am I free to eat everything in your refrigerator? Drink all your beer?
Thank You Zhang!
reinstalling windows alone will not do it.
Here’s how it works:
As you write files to a hard disk, it writes the data bits to “blocks” on the disk. Some files take one block, some span many blocks and almost all files use at least one partial block. The empty space left in this block is not usable by other files at the same given time. the computer registers information about theses blocks so it can find them later. Information such as where the file blocks start, where they end, how many and if they are not all together, where they are scattered about. This information is stored in a file table. When you delete a file, it simply wipes out this information in the file table and the computers awareness that they even exist. The actual blocks and bits still exist on the hard disc, BUT they are considered empty now... meaning, the computer can now use these places to write new files. FYI: CDROMS, USB drives and floppy’s all use this same basic principle, not just hard drives.
So, if you simply hit delete and turn off your PC, all you really did was wipe the file information out of the file table, the blocks still exits.
The trick to actually deleting the file data from the disk is to simply write over those free blocks with something else.
There are programs out there that will do this. If you wait long enough and use the computer heavily, this will naturally happen on it’s own, but it won’t be 100% effective. The one I always recommend to people is called “Killdisk”. It I pretty effective and free. The free version will wipe data from a disk to the point where there are VERY few people alive that can still recover it. If you want to make double sure, run the process over the disk 3 times. I doubt the NSA could even recover it at that point.
What you have to remember is that there aren’t many people out here that are savvy enough to do this AND have the motivation to go through all the trouble of getting back lost or deleted data. It’s not always simple to recover data, and my guess is that even the geek squad are using some gimpy off the shelf recovery software... none of those guys know how disk geometry works, or there are VERY few of them. Those simple little tools can be quite useful for home users who want to attempt data recovery themselves, but the disk needs to still be alive in order to use them. A dead disk recovery requires a clean room, special tools and parts... you basically have to remanufacture the hard drive by hand... a tedious task with high failure rates. They don’t do this in the back room at best buy.
Google ‘Killdisk” and you will find the software I mentioned earlier. The free version is more than sufficient for your needs.
I should mention this to those who read my post just to be sure you understand...
Booting Killdisk and running it will do just what it says, Kill Disk. You OS and everything on your drive will be gone forever. This process does not physically damage the hard drive, but you WILL be reinstalling you operating system and all you data will be permanently gone from that drive. Backup the stuff you need and be prepared to reinstall after an operation like this.
Circuit City’s “Fogdog” team probably can’t be trusted any more than Best Buy’s Geek Squad.
These are generally young kids who assume that access means privilege and nothing is private or proprietay.
I’m not condonining trafficking in child porn, mind, but I have yet to understand why people engaged in this sick activity turn their computers over to persons more knowledgeable than themselves and assume that their sordid secrets will be safe.
Google Best Buy and you’ll see some shocking stories about their staff copying private photographs (holiday snaps, etc.) without authorization or justification.
Have you seen how long it takes the cops to clear a road accident or write a ticket?
Fair play to the boys in blue but most of them are working out of a 19th century mindset except for the cruisers, radios and laptops.
Fighting cybercrime and/or child pornography will take money of course but also knowledgeable people and right now the bulk of the brainpower is on the side of the bad guys.
But if I invite you to open my draws, then yes you’re free to ramble ‘round in them.
So you don't think the geeks at Circuit City will turn you in when they discover all the child porn on your hard drive?
Well, "they" are pretty darned wrong. There is nothing the least bit "unconstitutional" about what happened here. The Constitution is supposed to protect you against GOVERNMENT abuse. It seems that fewer and fewer people understand this. This could be seen as an abuse of power, opening Geek Squad to civil and possible, but doubtful, criminal prosecution, but it's NOT "unconstitutional."
Actually, when you turn your computer or hard drive over to someone to repair it, you are giving consent for them to view anything contained therein.
Too bad for Mr. Clean-up, but the Geek Squad did what they were suppose to do - notify the authorities if anything illegal was found on a computer. In this case, the computer was a container.
Yo also lose the right when yo cross the border - it is totally legal to conduct a warrantless search of computer files at the US border.
(I just completed a class in Computer crime & legal issues - taught by an FBI guy. Very interesting class)
Seems reasonable to me.
I really shouldn’t ask the mechanic to change my spare when the trunk if stuffed with dope.
He might get the impression I’m doing something illegal.
The Apple genius was bemused - but agreed - when I was replaced my iPhone (the vibration stopped working) but asked to borrow the old one for long enough to reset it. He remarked that he had only emails from his World of Warcraft guild on his iPhone, whereas I use mine for work (sometimes).
“He might get the impression Im doing something illegal.”
He’d just think he struck it rich!
There ware ways to secure your computer quite easily.
Built-in encryption on windowsXP is quite strong and as far as I know, it cannot be cracked. I’ve never heard of it being done.
Either use the security options, or consider the computer public domain and modify your usage to suit (ie: don’t store anything on it you consider personal). Use a USB key isntead... most have options built-in for encryption now.
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