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.
There's still the question of how exactly these techs came across the images, but there's not any info available on that.
Couple of comments:
- There is no way to do data recovery without seeing the data fly past during the process. I’ve been in this business a long time and the file names and directory names I’m sure were a dead giveaway. At that point, it is illegal to NOT report it.
- Chances are, the guy deleted the illegal photos already in the past and thought they were gone, but the data recovery process unearths stuff like that, you can’t separate it and unless you know what you are doing, deleted doesn’t necessarily mean deleted.
- Secondly, I think he will skate. The evidence was not obtained legally and the search warrant for his home was based on that evidence as well.
- Lastly, never let anyone touch your private data who isn’t willing to sign a privacy/intellectual/non disclosure property agreement in advance. This is S.O.P. for us guys who do this stuff for a living.
So? Who says the Geeks spotted the stuff right away -- wouldn't they have been more likely to have spotted it later, while checking data integrity on a healthy disk?
The fact I brought up hex parsers should tell you I know quite a bit more about this than opening an explorer window.
And the fact that you brought up hex parsers told me that you hadn't fully thought through the scenario.
There is a BB a few minutes away and I see the VW in my neighborhood sometimes, usually at the same houses. One of my co-workers in another building told me of a neighbor's nightmare with them. From what I could gather, setting jumpers on HDs for master and slave is a challenge. Charged a lot of money as well.
I hit BB every so often and I almost never see the same faces twice at the geek squad area.
A long while back, when I was really frustrated with where I was working, I went as far as applying for a tech job. It would have been a 5 minute drive. When BB called me up, every few words was "Customer Service Rep." I reminded the fellow about my qualifications and the response was that I would eventually work up to a tech. job.
Is it possible to encrypt individual files? Or must you encrypt all of your documents at once?
Yes, it can be done by file, folder, or full drive. Just depends on what software you are using for encryption and what options you choose.
And if he had it on video tape or a magazine in the back of his car and some mechanic found it? It is still his even if it isn't in his possession.
Anyone who sends a hard drive to another person to recover the data is a fool to expect any type of privacy.
Not really but the Geek Squad is never going to have a chance to go through my personal files because I am my own geek squad.
Identity theft is one thing. There's also the peeping tom element. Can hotel maintenance staff be charged for peeking at hotel guests in their rooms from a hidden location while fixing the vents? Sure. Can department store staff be prosecuted for peeking at customers removing their clothing in changing rooms? Absolutely. The question here is whether computer technicians working on home computers can be charged for leering into computer hard drives while carrying out repair work.
According to the story, the guy brought in his hard drive to have data recovered. As a computer forensic specialist who often takes on jobs doing data recovery, I can tell you that you run across a lot of personal data while searching for the data that was deleted. From an ethical persective, I make sure i tell my clients that I will respect their privacy by not revealing any personal information I may find while doing my job, and by limiting my search as much as possible while still meeting their needs. That does not extend to protecting evidence of a crime, however, and I make sure they understand that as well. If they don't like that, take it somewhere else.
Of course, it is a simple matter to encrypt your personal data, so even if your hard drive is stolen, your won't lose your private information.
I hope this guy rots in jail.
That's a lot easier to prove than you might think - take it from me, that's part of my job.
Suppose someone is unfortunate enough to have his computer taken over by a botnet which eventually causes it to self-destruct after having functioned for awhile, unbeknownst to its owner, as a child porn server. How much effort would you make to determine whether such a thing had happened, or to preserve evidence that it might have done?
You are despicable. This is not a case of cops prosecuting someone for having porn on his computer. This is about someone participating in the sexual exploitation of children! (Yes, just having the pictures makes him a participant in that exploitation.) I want the cops investigating that, thank you very much!
In my opinion, no. If he wanted it to be secure, he should have left it at home or as in your example, kept control of his vehicle and even that is “iffy” being on public roadways.
I don't know how this guy got the kiddie porn in the first place. Seriously. If there are sites he downloaded the images from, wouldn't they be shut down and the owners prosecuted? Who in their right mind would have a business, available to the public that could lock you up for years? It would be like having a cocaine selling website.
You're proceeding on a flawed assumption. There was nothing illegal about how the initial evidence was obtained. He was paying them to recover data from the hard drive, which means they had to look through the contents of the drive to find what was deleted.
When files are deleted, the file table records are often the first things to be overwritten, so while the data still exists, there is nothing on the drive to point out where it is. When I am doing data recovery, I have scripts that will carve out files from the unallocated space on the hard drive based on file type. So if someone wants me to recover their vacation photos, I will run script to recover all JPG files. If it also recovers child porn, you can bet my first call is to the police, and you can bet the recovery of that evidence will stand up in court.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.