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[liberationtech] Travel with notebook habit

Andreas Bader noergelpizza at
Tue Jan 1 01:51:49 PST 2013

On 12/28/2012 12:46 PM, Maxim Kammerer wrote:
> On Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 10:49 AM, Julian Oliver <julian at> wrote:
>> I've been extensively questioned at the border on a few occassions over the
>> years /because/ my laptops don't have a Desktop as such, no icons either. Both
>> my arms were grabbed at the Australian border as I reached to type 'firefox' in
>> a terminal, to start the browser in an attempt to show them a normal looking
>> environment.
> I think that in such a discussion, it is necessary to distinguish
> between border guards wanting to look at your data, and border guards
> wanting to make sure that your laptop is not a bomb (given the limited
> training they receive on the subject). The situation that you describe
> looks more like the latter than the former (although clearly there
> might be omitted details).
For the case of Border guards that want to have a look at your data
there's an article from schneier:
You can also use a normal (fake | Windows) OS on your standart HDD and a
hidden OS on a mSATA SSD, you can use a 16 GB disk with a small and
encryted Ubuntu distribution. If you set the boot standart to your
standart HDD then you have a good chance to get through the control.
Another possibility is to combine this with a hidden truecrypt
container, no one can force you to write down a password to a container
that is probably not even existing. You can't prove that.
If this is to complicated for you, you can still install a OS on a small
USB stick. Or a SDHC card. It's not that expensive and if you have an
USB stick fixed at your keyring I think no one will notice.
The most secure thing would be a Live CD and a hidden container on an
USB / SDHC device. So they can't infiltrate a system that is not even
installed (backtrack and stuff have truecrypt onboard) and they can't
force you to open that hidden container (because you only know if there
is a container when you hit the right password.
When nobody performs a hardware hack on your SATA or something then
nothing can happen. If they keep your notebook for some minutes | hours
| days then you should examine it before use..
It's also helpful to check the md5 checksum of the boot partition; you
can have a virus / keylogger in there.

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