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Monday, 6 October 2008

Data Security & You

There has been considerable interest, and dismay, at the number of times sensitive data has been lost or stolen, indeed the amount of data lost seems directly proportional to the technological advances in devices and perhaps the stupidity or arrogance of their owners.

Desktop computers - these are sitting on our desks giving access to vast amounts of data, yet many people get up and leave their desks without a thought to the risk they are taking. I always lock my desk computer before leaving it, even for a few minutes, because I understand that a moments inattention could put my data at risk and seriously damage my reputation as a security conscious individual.

Laptop computers - these are becoming smaller and smaller. My latest acquisition has an 8.9 inch screen, no hard drive and is small enough to slip into my briefcase. The down side of this is that it is even easier to lose. I encrypt my data so that would not be a problem but the loss of the thing would be very inconvenient. The data is, however, safe.

Memory sticks and SDHC cards - probably the greatest threat to data known today. These tiny devices can hold giga bytes of data and yet can slip easily into a pocket. These devices should always be encrypted, but sadly many are not. All my data sticks have the ability to lock and encrypt data.

Mobile phones and PDA devices - most people do not activate the pin number lock to prevent unauthorised access and a s such they risk having their phone numbers taken, their email contacts list taken and if secret pin numbers and passwords are stored, then these are at risk. Add to that the ability of many devices to access business based systems and email remotely then it is easy to see what a major security threat these unprotected devices can pose.

I use a pin to protect my PDA and have set a pin to protect the sim card as well. If my device was lost or stolen, I can send it a text message which locks the PDA and no amount of fiddling will unlock it, even if a new sim card is inserted and the factory defaults enabled.

A recent survey mounted by the BBC shows just how many electronic devices are left in cabs. The number is staggering. The value of data and equipment is vast.

Moral - keep devices safe, encrypt data, activate pin numbers on phones and PDAs.

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