Drive Encryption: Protecting the “Data at Rest”

We lock the doors to our cars. We lock the doors to our home, we lock and secure the things that are most important to us and our data should be no exception. Data is the intellectual property that gives your business its competitive edge. Just Ask Sony how painful it is if your intellectual property is hacked or stolen. What would happen if your sensitive data fell into the hands of a competitor or worse, a hacker? Can the reputation of your business survive a major data breach? If you’re a small business, statistics say that you will close your doors forever within 6 months of the breach. Now that we have established what is at stake, what can we do about it?

There are many layers of protection that can and should be put in place to ensure your data is secured.

While encryption is no silver bullet, it goes a long way in protecting intellectual property from the aloof employee who constantly misplaces flash drives, the internal worker that wishes you harm, or the laptop that gets stolen in a burglary. Password protecting your computer only gives you a “lock on your front Door. That door can still be easily kicked in and all of your information stolen. If an adversary has physical access to your laptop computer, they can simply insert a disk, restart your laptop and remove your super-complex password. Yes, it’s that simple. If your drive is encrypted, the data is “bolted down to the floor”, rendered invisible to prying eyes and is safe from this common attack (that is unless you wrote the encryption password on a post-it note and attached it to your screen).

This ease of accessing your data is one of the reasons why many government regulations and data protection laws like: HIPAA, FAR, FISMA, ITAR, NISPOM, GLB, SOX, PCI and others require mobile devices like laptops to be encrypted. In fact if an encrypted laptop is stolen or lost, it is not a “reportable” event and can be the difference between someone having your device in their hands or your Business in their hands. In many cases encryption is easy to set up. Bitlocker and Truecrypt are the leading tools for encryption, but others exist. In fact some versions of Windows 8 come with Bitlocker and all you have to do is enable it. It is a great way to protect your “data at rest”. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We highly recommend that you encrypt mobile devices like laptops, tablets, external drives, pda’s (iPhone is already encrypted with password) and USB drives. Many of you already know about e-mail encryption which takes care of data in transit. So now you know you can better protect data at rest.

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