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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

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Want to keep your laptop safe? Try applying glitter nail polish on it
PTI
Washington, January 01, 2014
First Published: 18:43 IST(1/1/2014)
Last Updated: 19:00 IST(1/1/2014)

Security experts have discovered a new secret weapon to ensure your laptop and other devices are not tampered with - glitter nail polish.

 

Security researchers Eric Michaud and Ryan Lackey said glitter nail polish can help people know when their machines have been physically tampered with and potentially compromised.

Physical tampering with machines is a growing problem. While drive encryption, strong passwords and software-based measures might keep causal thieves out, travelling offers many ways for prying eyes to physically compromise a laptop, Lackey and Michaud noted.

Many people affix tamper-proof seals over ports and screws but these seals can in fact be replicated or opened cleanly in minutes by anyone with even minimal training, the researchers said during a presentation at the Chaos Communication Congress in Germany.

Glitter nail polish can create a seal that is impossible to copy. Once applied, it has what effectively is a random pattern. Once painted over screws or onto stickers placed over ports, it is difficult to replicate once broken, 'Wired' magazine reported.

Experts recommend using your smartphone to take a picture of the laptop with the seals applied before leaving it alone, taking another photo upon returning and using a software programme to shift rapidly between the two images to compare them.

Even very small differences - a screw that is in a very slightly different position, or glitter nail polish that has a very slightly different pattern of sparkle will be evident.

Astronomers use a similar technique called blink comparison to detect small changes in the night sky, researchers said.


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