Lost MOD laptops a gift for security resellers

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Lost MOD laptops a gift for security resellers

Billy MacInnes

Two widely reported admissions by government departments about the loss of mobile devices have helped to make security issues surrounding laptops, USB sticks and smartphones the currency of channel pitches.

The Ministry of Defence revealed at the beginning of last week that 121 of its USB memory sticks and 659 laptops had been stolen over the past four years.

On the same day, it emerged that a senior adviser accompanying prime minister Gordon Brown and UK business leaders on a trip to China in January had "lost" his BlackBerry the morning after he was picked up by a Chinese woman in a local disco.

Reacting to the disclosures, David Ellis, director of e-security at ComputerLinks, said that organisations needed to raise their awareness of the security risks that accompanied the use of laptops, USB sticks and smartphones.

"It's important that companies understand what data is key to the business and how to protect it," he said.

However, he added that organisations had become more aware over the past 12 months of the different types of media that needed to be included - such as USB sticks and smartphones - when it came to protecting the information flow in and out of their operations.

Alan Bentley, vice president at Lumension Security EMEA, described theft and negligence as a "fact of life" and that the "the number of laptops stolen should not be a concern to the government or the public".

Bentley added that the real issue was the data on the lost and stolen devices.

He agreed with Ellis that "the only way to eliminate data loss from removable devices is to take control of the flow of inbound and outbound data from your endpoints and encrypt the data during transmission".

Matthew Brown, vice president for product at content protection supplier Workshare, added that intelligent encryption of data was important because employees were less likely to alert their organisations when a USB stick in their possession was stolen than if a laptop was taken.

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