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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.

Disk Encryption Software: It's A Slam Dunk (Or As Close As It Comes To It)

According to Google News, BP's laptop loss has produced nearly 1,500 articles.  It has also prompted security professionals to comment on the case.  If you'll recall, BP lost a laptop that did not make use of laptop encryption software, affecting 13,000 gulf coast residents awaiting compensation.

Networkworld.com compares the breach to other breaches, and has quoted several security experts on the issue.

  • Avivah Litan, from Gartner, says "There really is no excuse for not encrypting laptops... Enterprises that are not putting in laptop encryption are just being lazy."
  • Pete Lindstrom with Spire Security: "I think laptop encryption is one of the few slam-dunks in security for any company of reasonable size because the risks are fairly well known and the solutions are mature."
  • Darren Shimkus with Credant: It's surprising that even companies the size of BP don't encrypt their laptops as a matter of course these days.

Also, I ran across a stat that I had never seen before:  There are federal agencies that report 100% compliance when it comes to encryption software installation, but "the government-wide average is still just more than 54%."

Laptop Encryption is not a Slam Dunk

It really isn't.  But laptop encryption comes pretty close to being a slam dunk.  There are ways to get around laptop encryption, certainly:

The "problem" with the above encryption runarounds is that they're still pretty hard to carry out (a good thing if you're interested in protecting, not hacking into, data).  For example, cold boot attacks can be avoided by ensuring that you always turn off your computer after using it, as opposed to having it go into hibernation or sleep mode.

Defending against evil maid attacks is possible in some instances, such as when a laptop is stolen only to be returned.  In that case, a full diagnostic is run before the laptop is returned back to the user.

Password guessing can be stopped by either setting limits (no passwords less than 8 characters in length, for example) or by using rate limiting tools (after the fourth wrong guess, subsequent wrong guesses are delayed by increasing periods of time.  After the tenth wrong guess, the whole thing is blown up so that entering the correct password still doesn't give access to the protected content).

Like I said, laptop encryption is not a slam dunk: there are limits to what it can do.  However, as you can see from the above, it's as close as it comes to being one.


Related Articles and Sites:
http://www.networkworld.com/news/2011/033111-failure-to-encrypt-portable-devices.html

 
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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.