Encrpytion safety net protects data
More than 1,200 laptops are reported missing each week at Los Angeles International Airport, according to a recent study by Dell and the Ponemon Institute.
The same study also revealed that more than 10 times that number (about 12,000) are reported missing at airports nationwide each week, and as many as seven in 10 of those devices are never reclaimed.
With statistics like these, it is easy to see why state government agencies are moving to encrypt more PCs - to keep sensitive data safe in the event that a state computer ends up in the wrong hands, according to Richard Smothermon, chief information security officer at Commonwealth Office of Technology.
“In recent years, state agencies have intensified their efforts to ensure that sensitive data is kept safe,” Smothermon said. “That includes adding encryption to laptops in the event they should become lost or stolen.”
With the state budget in dire straits, the frequency of travel for most state employees has been severely limited, but laptops still disappear.
Joyce Brewer, branch manager of asset management at Commonwealth Office of Technology, said COT received less than 10 reports of missing laptops last year during a time of restricted business travel. As the economy improves, so could the amount of business travel, and that could increase the chances of additional loss, she said.
The state’s Enterprise Architecture Standards Committee, a group of state information technology professionals who collaborate to develop technology solutions and set IT standards for state government, has not mandated the use of a specific encryption product at this point. However, an enterprise policy that requires laptops containing sensitive data to utilize some form of encryption is expected to be approved in the near future, Smothermon said.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services installs Check Point Full Disk Encryption software (formerly Pointsec) on all PCs, not just laptops, Smothermon said. COT relies on the McAfee Endpoint Encryption product to protect its laptops, while some agencies are using the encryption features built into high-end versions of Windows Vista.