Now, this is a tangled web of crime! A thief stole a laptop from a car but he or she didn't know who they were dealing with when committing the crime. The laptop belonged to Stu Gale, a man from Canada who works as a computer and home automation specialist.
Stu was able to access his computer remotely and spy on the suspected thief. When he did this, he noticed that a woman had logged in her Facebook account from his laptop and left the laptop unattended. Bet the thief never considered that possibility!
While the thief was away from the stolen laptop, Gale was able to look through all the personal information in her Facebook account, including her contact information and messages she had sent to her friends. Wow!
Gale told CTV News Calgary that he sent text messages to her Facebook friends and posted her information to several Facebook groups.
Gale even took it upon himself to call one of her friends.
“I told the person she (the thief) was on a stolen laptop and needed to return it,” said Gale.
Shortly after that, the woman deleted her Facebook account.
"If you take somebody’s Facebook and you repost it, that’s a form of privacy invasion. You really do need to think about what you’re doing. Probably a better idea to take it to law enforcement," said Tom Keenan who is a computer security expert at the University of Calgary.
After snooping around, Gale did give the woman's information to the police in his area.
In this scenario, protecting yourself is two-fold. Here are some tips for securing your laptop and your online account.
How to keep your laptop safe
- Passwords: When you open your laptop, do you need to type in a password to access your home screen? This is your first line of defense. Click here for tips on creating strong, unique passwords.
- Biometrics: Most smartphones already have a feature where you can unlock your phone with your fingerprint. If you're in the market for a new laptop, consider buying one with biometric authentication. New Microsoft laptops are equipped with Windows Hello and new Macbooks have Touch ID similar to iPhones.
- Lock: Laptop locks and cables prevent your laptop from being opened by a thief; they would need special tools to get it open without breaking the computer in half. Amazon.com has a huge selection of locks, many of which are under $25.
How to keep your accounts safe
- Two-factor authentication: This security measure requires you to verify your identity twice before you can log into an account. Once you've typed in your username and password, a website may send a code to the phone number or email address associated with the account. You must also use that code to access your account.
- Security Key: These are relatively new. They are physical keys that you insert into your laptop's USB port. Google, Dropbox, and now Facebook accept them as forms of identity to access your account. Amazon.com also sells a variety of these keys.
- Passcode or fingerprint to protect certain apps: This applies to apps on your smartphone or tablet. You can require a passcode or fingerprint to gain access to certain apps on your phone. This is especially useful for retail or banking apps. Click here for instructions for adding this feature that locks down specific apps.
Click the blue links below to read more stories where technology foiled criminals.