Protecting Your Portable Devices and Information


Theft or loss of laptops, notebook computers, personal digital assistants, Blackberrys, and thumb drives, as well as the data on these devices, is a significant problem. There are many proactive steps that you can take to protect portable devices and the data on them, including: prevent the theft, use two-factor authentication, and encrypt your data. You can also take reactive steps after a theft or loss.

Before discussing these steps, there are two common-sense precautions that many people forget. First, keep your laptop in an inconspicuous container. Laptop cases with your company logo simply draw the attention of thieves. Second, do not leave your laptop unattended in plain view (for example, leaving it in your car where it can be seen). You should lock it in the trunk. To prevent theft of a portable device, you can use alarms. Laptop security systems operate by detecting motion, analyzing it to determine whether a threat exists, and implementing responses. They are battery-powered, they are independent of the computer operating system, and they operate whether the laptop is on or off. If a laptop armed with a security system is carried beyond a perimeter specified by the user, the alarm assumes the laptop is being stolen. It can then prevent access to the operating system, secure passwords and encryption keys, and sound an audible alarm. One company that provides laptop security systems is Caveo (www.caveo.com).

Two-factor authentication means that you must have two forms of identification to access your laptop or notebook. The first authentication factor uses a token or biometrics. The second factor is your personal password. A token generates a one-time password that you must enter within a specified time limit. This password typically consists of six digits, which appear on the token’s LCD screen. Companies offering tokens for two-factor authentication include Authenex (www.authenex.com), Kensington (www.kensington.com), and SecuriKey (www.securikey.com).

Fingerprints are the biometric used for two-factor authentication, by incorporating fingerprint
readers into the laptop itself. See IBM (www.ibm.com) and Microsoft (www.microsoft.com). You can also use fingerprint authentication on your thumb drive with the SanDisk Cruzer (www.sandisk.com), the Lexar JumpDrive TouchGuard (www.lexar.com), the Sony MicroVault (www.sony.net), and the Kanguru Bio Slider (www.kanguru.com). Data encryption provides additional protection by turning data into meaningless symbols, decipherable only by an authorized person.
Beachhead Solutions (www.beachheadsolutions.com) and Credant (www.credant.com) also provide applications that allow you to encrypt files and folders. Another step you can take to improve your security is to encrypt your entire hard drive, including your applications. See Pointsec (www.pointsec.com), Mobile Armor (www.mobilearmor.com), SafeBoot  www.safeboot.com), the Kanguru Wizard (www.kanguru.com), and the PCKey (www.kensington.com).  If your laptop is lost or stolen, you can use laptop tracing tools or device reset/remote kill tools. For example, the XTool Computer Tracker (www.computersecurity.com), PC PhoneHome (www.pcphonehome.com), and LaptopLocate (www.laptoplocate.net) provide transmitters that secretly send a signal to their respective company control centers via telephone or the Internet. This signal enables the company, with the help of the local authorities, Internet service providers, and telephone companies, to track your computer’s location.

You can also use device reset/remote kill tools to automatically eliminate specified data on a lost or stolen laptop to prevent it from being compromised or misused. The solution works even when other security software or encryption methods fail. Examples of companies providing these solutions are Trust Digital (www.trustdigital.com), Intellisync (www.intellisync.com), and Beachhead Solutions (www.beachheadsolutions.com).


{ 2 comments... read them below or add one }

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