Two thousand six was the year of laptop theft. In February, a laptop was stolen from an Ernst & Young employee's car containing tens of thousands of Social Security numbers belonging to its clients' employees. Fortunately, there are a few simple measures that enterprises can take to protect data while it's "on the road," several of which are outlined below:
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- Know where the data lives. As the old saying goes, "knowing is half the battle." You can't protect assets that you aren't aware you own. If an organization has ever handled sensitive data, there's a good chance its employees have it stashed on laptops, desktops, CDs, floppy disks, USB memory devices and any other storage device imaginable. Make sure employees are aware that they're not only responsible for knowing what data they have, but also -- according to the enterprise data retention policy -- purging data that is no longer needed.
- Encrypt data on mobile devices. Most computers are stolen during a random theft. In the majority of these cases, the thief only sees a valuable electronic device without having any idea what data is stored on it. Using encryption technology can help ensure that the theft of a $2,000 laptop doesn't become a headline that costs your company millions. One option is to use a whole-disk encryption product to protect the contents of an entire hard drive with a boot password. Be warned, however, that this layer of control may fail if a device is stolen while suspended, rather than shut down. But, despite this potential obstacle, it goes without saying that it's always a good idea to supplement whole-disk encryption with application-layer encryption for highly sensitive documents.
Read the rest of Mike Chapple's article on SearchSecurity.com