Why You Should Lockdown Your Portable Device


It seems as if the headlines all sing the same tune: breaking news regarding the latest computer security breach. Perhaps there were hundreds of medical records stolen from a physician's office or thousands of files containing sensitive customer data thieved from a small corporation. It could even be a handful of regular consumers who were robbed of credit card numbers or bank account details. All of these instances are real and could happen to you if you do not lock down your portable devices.

The Dangers of Vulnerability

Computers in general are vulnerable to security breaches but portable devices are even more at risk. Why? They're portable. Leave your laptop unattended for a few minutes, and when you return, it just may be gone. If that device wasn't properly secured upon leaving, a thief could easily log on with all of your administrative privileges and stir up a lot of trouble. The prevalence of portable storage media such as flash drives and USB hard disks makes the loss of critical data even more likely, whether the units are simply misplaced or stolen. Laptops are targeted frequently, but they aren't the only device thieves are after.

A recent survey conducted by the Computer Security Institute reveals that out of all the system administrators and security practitioners who had been robbed of a laptop or other portable device, only two-thirds used safeguards such as encryption to protect their data.

Though alarming, this revelation also sheds light on why many small businesses and personal users haven't bothered to lock down their devices. So what's the reason? To be perfectly honest, implementing security mechanisms can be difficult for members of the IT staff, system administrators and especially inexperienced home users. However, there are a number of solutions that have been simplified for any level of experience. This gives you all the more reason to take initiative and protect that sensitive data on your portable device.

Easy Encryption

Many of the newer portable drives come equipped with encryption features. Those that don't might support add-ons with products such as Cryptainer, Migo Portable Vault and TrueCrypt. These security solutions are easy to use and protect users with strong encryption algorithms such as AES and Blowfish. There are also a few encryption features already built into your Windows operating system. XP comes with a utility known as EFS while Vista Ultimate includes a feature called BitLocker. These solutions are simple, inexpensive and effective. However, because they are software-based, they tend to have an impact on performance. This is where hardware solutions come in handy.

Hardware encryption is faster and offers better protection. The Apricorn Aegis Vault is a USB hard drive that comes with built-in encryption. Considering that this portable device is capable of storing up to 250 GB, such a high level of security is a must. You also have other options for smaller amounts of data such as the SanDisk Cruzer Professional flash drive, which holds up to 4 GB. This device is perfect for individuals and provides excellent security with 256-bit AES encryption.

Whether you choose to go with software or hardware, having some form of security for your portable device is essential. Your business just may depend on it.


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You can protect your computer from viruses without expensive software. Instead, follow these simple tips:

Stay up-to-date on all system updates.

Don't download any email attachments you weren't expecting.

Avoid freeware and peer-to-peer sharing sites.

Use alternative web browsers and email software.