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AlertBoot offers a cloud-based full disk encryption and mobile device security service for companies of any size who want a scalable and easy-to-deploy solution. Centrally managed through a web based console, AlertBoot offers mobile device management, mobile antivirus, remote wipe & lock, device auditing, USB drive and hard disk encryption managed services.

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AlertBoot offers a cloud-based full disk encryption and mobile device security service for companies of any size who want a scalable and easy-to-deploy solution. Centrally managed through a web based console, AlertBoot offers mobile device management, mobile antivirus, remote wipe & lock, device auditing, USB drive and hard disk encryption managed services.

Laptop Data Protection: A Multitude Of Options

Last year, the sales of laptop computers beat the sales of desktops for the first time.  So, chances are you, the reader, own or use a laptop computer at home or at work.  However, the use of laptop computer brings some issues that you probably didn't face when using a desktop.

For example, you may want to consider the use of laptop data protection software like AlertBoot.  But, protection of your computer requires you to consider many different aspects of security.  Largely, they can be divided into physical and "metaphysical" security

Physical Protection

Computers get stolen.  Laptop computers get stolen more often indirectly due to their size and portability: most people wouldn't haul around their desktops, although this guy didn't get the memo.  Chances are that that particular computer is at a higher risk of theft than something you've got parked at home.

So, chances are your laptop will be placed in situations where the probability of it being a target is greatly increased.  How do you protect it?

  • Locked doors.  Great if you can get it at Starbucks.
  • Use the buddy system.  Always ensure one person is around, watching out for your stuff.  Take turns going on that espresso-induced break.
  • Use a laptop cable lock.  Possibly the best option of the three in terms of convenience.  But convenient usually means less secure.

Of the three, the second option is the best, since someone can intervene if a theft is in progress, not to mention the deterrent effect of someone's presence.  But, even then, there is no guarantee that someone won't be facing the business end of a gun.  And what if your social skills are, well...not skillful enough?

I'm not saying you don't have friends; I'm saying they don't want to hang around with you while you work at a coffeehouse.  There goes your buddy system...

Content Protection - Protecting Bits and Bytes When Physical Security Doesn't Work

Then, there is the question of, "what to do if physical security measures fail?"  Because let's face it, if your time on earth has taught you anything, it's that anything that can be grabbed, can be stolen.

There are solutions, though.

  • Whole Disk Encryption.The best way to protect data on your laptop is to encrypt the entire thing.  There are no ifs and buts in this situation.  If someone steals your laptop computer, and that computer contains sensitive information, this is the only way to truly prevent the thief from getting access to it.

    Password protection doesn't even come close to protecting your data.  An eleven year old can bypass it in less than five minutes.
  • File Encryption.  The same type of encryption as above, except it gets applied to specific files only.  The onus falls on the user to make sure that all sensitive information is encrypted.

    With file encryption, a thief would be able to gain access to the laptop and surf the net, but wouldn't be privy to your sensitive, encrypted data.  While it doesn't provide total protection, file encryption can be used in combination with internet tracking.
  • Internet Tracking.  Not a data security solution, if you think about it, since it doesn't protect anything.  It does, however, allow you to recover your stolen computer if the thief ever decides to go on-line.  It won't work with whole disk encryption, though, since it prevents the thief from accessing your computer from the very start--and the internet can't be accessed without starting up the computer.

    Of course, relies on the presumption that the thief will connect to the internet using the laptop.
  • GPS Tracking (not software-based).  Similar to LoJack for cars, this will work even if the laptop is not connected to the net.  You must be careful, since a lot of GPS tracking devices advertised are not actually GPS, but internet tracking solutions.

    It has all the pitfalls of GPS, though, like not working well inside someone's basement, and doesn't actually protect your data but let's you recover your laptop.

The above are, of course, just a handful of different solutions that are being peddled.  Plus, there are other types of hazards a laptop owner faces, like computer viruses that can only be combated by exercising caution, installing OS and program patches, and running anti-virus programs.

My own recommendation?  If you're looking for data security, regardless of what happens to the laptop, use whole disk encryption on a computer that is chained to a desk in a locked room guarded by security personnel.  It shouldn't come as a surprise that the best security measure is a layered, multipronged approach.

Of course, this is not an option if you have to carry around your laptop, in which case full disk encryption is definitely recommended, plus keeping an eye out for your stuff and chaining it the moment you set things down.

 
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About sang_lee

Sang Lee is a Senior Account Manager and Security Analyst with AlertBoot, Inc., the leading provider of managed endpoint security services, based in Las Vegas, NV. Mr. Lee helps with the deployment and ongoing support of the AlertBoot disk encryption managed service. Prior to working at AlertBoot, Mr. Lee served in the South Korean Navy. He holds both a B.S. and an M.S. from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, U.S.A.