The laptop was pretty new and the external had your backup from your old computer. Assuming you've been on a trip and it's been 7 days since you've been home, what have you lost?
- Your laptop. With all your banking, email, social networking and personal photos from at least the last 7 days. If you're lazy maybe it auto logs in on boot, and if you're really lazy maybe you can connect to your work VPN automatically. Your banking may require a password or username both of which can easily either be guessed or reset using vitae accessible via your email or social network. You've possibly exposed:
- your identity
- financial information.
- your immediate friends and their vitae in your social networks
- Your external drive, which is probably the only copy of the data from your last computer. It probably has years of photos and music, not only lost but exposed.
What should you have lost given proper and (significant) initial configuration and (insignificant) routine maintenance before any major trip:
- your laptop
- your external drive.
- 7 days worth of photos
What you should have exposed:
Your laptop should have full disk encryption. This way if it ever gets stolen the only thing that someone can do with it is format the drive and reinstall, exposing no personal data. If they don't know how to do that, well then they have a dead laptop. The external drive is not a backup if it's the only copy. If you carry if with you for any reason it should also be encrypted.
You should have an offsite backup. Carrying the external drive in the same bag with your laptop provides a single point of failure. 2TB drives are selling for $60. Anyone with a laptop can afford a backup solution.
Backup your data at home before the trip. Encrypt the laptop drive. Nothing exposed.