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  • Registered: ‎03-12-2020
  • Location: US
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Laptop failure; BitLocker enabled, unsure of linked account - Lenovo ThinkPad E580 20KS-CT01WW

2020-03-12, 12:42 PM

Late last week my Manager’s laptop started acting up, and after a couple of reboots decided to give up the ghost. It got stuck in a boot cycle of self-diagnosing errors before attempting (and subsequently failing) to repair itself. 


We now get to the bigger problem – BitLocker. He hadn’t enabled BitLocker (or rather, didn’t even know it existed or what it was), yet somehow it was now on. The problem being of course that we can’t generate any kind of recovery key without knowing which account the device was linked to. No Microsoft account was linked when setting up the device and we’ve since tried every imaginable account and login that might have been used, but none have the device attached. 


Having contacted repair shops and data recovery specialists, it looks rather dire unless we can work out which account this was. Quite how BitLocker was enabled is beyond me, as from discussing this with them I understand that it generally isn’t on by default and isn’t the kind of thing you could really turn on by accident. The fact that absolutely none of our logins are the one linked to the device is concerning, as even if we had set it up (deliberately or accidentally), there’s a high chance of it being one of the ore obvious or frequently used email addresses, but to no avail.


He’s not been the most diligent in keeping backups (read; constant prompting from me met with ‘maybe later’), meaning that any backup we have is a good few months out of date, so formatting and doing a clean install isn’t really viable, even if it is increasingly looking like the only option.


I’ve got a case open with Microsoft Support at the moment but I’m not hopeful. Do you know if anything can be done to even identify which account may have been linked to the device? We’re at an absolute loss as to not only how BitLocker has been enabled, but also how it seems to have been done so via linking to an account that doesn’t seem to be one of ours. The possibility did occur to me of the system being compromised by something malicious and this enabling it under a third party’s account, but I’m not sure how likely this is.


TL;DR; Laptop failed and BitLocker is enabled despite us never setting it up. Device has been linked to an account but it doesn’t seem to be any of ours. As such we can’t generate a Recovery Key and formatting isn’t ideal since backups have been sporadic and outdated at best. Are we out of options?


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