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Avoid damaging data loss with full disk encryption [Symantec]

Enterprise Software | Posted on December 16, 2011 by Danielle Williams

Today data is everywhere — whether you’re carrying it on a laptop in your briefcase or on a USB stick in your coat pocket. And it’s being accessed and used by employees, customers and partners, in the office and on the go.

At the same time, endpoints are more vulnerable than ever before, with a constantly changing threat landscape that extends beyond viruses. The number of ways we can store and share information means all the devices that make our lives easier also become critical points of failure for an organization.

With increasingly mobile workforces, it’s important for a security solution to protect data outside of the office. That solution should address a diversity of devices, from laptops to smartphones to tablets to USB sticks — as well as the various applications running on those devices.

Oftentimes, however, there’s a disconnect between what organizations need to protect against data loss and what they think they need to protect.

One solution is full disk encryption, which prevents unauthorized access to your data in case of loss or theft. It does this by encrypting all the data that goes on a disk, whether that’s on a desktop, laptop, smartphone or removable device.

It’s no surprise that exposing sensitive data, intellectual property or personal identifiable information can result in financial loss, brand damage and loss of IP. In a recent study by the Ponemon Institute, it found that in 2010 the average data breach cost US$7.2 million, and the average expense per compromised record was US$214.

But there are also legal reasons for protecting this data. Many Canadian organizations are governed by industry or government regulations and need to ensure their data is protected — or face substantial legal penalties. This includes PIPEDA (the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act), HIPA (the Health Information Protection Act) and Bill 198, which is similar to Sarbanes-Oxley in the U.S.

In 2009, for example, Heartland Payment Systems was sued over a data breach it was forced to publicly disclose, which alleged that the company failed to adequately safeguard consumer data and did not notify consumers about the breach in a timely manner. The company then decided to deploy an end-to-end encryption solution — but not before suffering brand damage and financial loss.

Full disk encryption not only reduces the risk of data exposure from loss or theft, it also ensures compliance accountability. So, if a laptop is lost or stolen and the data is encrypted, legally an organization doesn’t have to report it to the public.

But it’s important to find a full disk encryption solution that’s easy to use and doesn’t affect worker productivity. Business users should be able to work as usual, while software automatically encrypts and decrypts data on the fly.

It’s also important to find a solution that’s easy for IT managers to deploy and maintain, without generating a lot of help desk calls. And it needs to integrate with existing architecture. A multidimensional encryption approach should address these issues, backed by security policies.

Symantec’s PGP Whole Disk Encryption, for example, provides multi-platform, high-performance full disk encryption for all data (including user files, swap files, system files and hidden files) on desktops, laptops and servers. Many organizations start with this solution, and then progress to PGP Portable (for portable removable devices) to meet their growing data protection requirements.

And, with a single console, it’s easier for IT managers to manage and enforce security policies with tools such as event monitoring and reporting.

With full disk encryption, your endpoints will be protected from data loss, and you won’t have to report a loss or theft to the public, which could help prevent lawsuits, financial loss and damage to your reputation.

To find out more, connect with Monica Scott, our Symantec Security Specialist at Softchoice, at

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