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Avoidable data loss as insecure laptop stolen from MBNA

Origin Storage : 24 December, 2009  (Technical Article)
Encrypted portable storage could have provided a secure solution to transporting sensitive customer data and prevented the loss of data belonging to MBNA's credit card customers
Reports that a laptop containing the personal records of thousands of customers of MBNA Bank has been stolen mean that large numbers of the bank's credit cardholders will now be spend a worrisome Christmas and New Year break, concerned about their identities getting stolen.

And, says Origin Storage, the situation could easily have been avoided if the contractor concerned had used a secure portable storage device to protect the cardholder data.

'It's situations like this - where a bank's reputation is damaged by one of its suppliers failing to secure customer data - that I always find puzzling, for the simple reason that encrypted portable drives - complete with an onboard PIN protection system - can now be bought for just a few hundred pounds,' said Andy Cordial, managing director of the storage systems integration specialist.

'Devices like the DataLocker which protect the stored data using strong AES encryption plus onboard PIN protection, are highly portable, meaning they can be used in the office and on the road,' he said.

And, he went on to say, if the device is lost or stolen, the data on the drive remains secure.

That restricts the loss to a purely financial one, namely the cost of the hardware, rather than reputational and possible legal, damages resulting from the incident, he explained.

According to Cordial, as the Lancashire Evening Post report shows, it's so easy to lose a laptop, either through carelessness or a simple theft, and portable computer thefts occur all the time.

'The good news is that none of the customers whose data has been lost has been affected by the loss yet - but that doesn't mean their data won't act as a start kit for identity theft professionals, who now harvest this type of data and clone people's IDs by the tens of thousands every year,' he said.

'A little commonsense at the planning stage and the purchase of relatively inexpensive PIN-plus-encrypted hardware, means that data losses as a result of laptop thefts will become a thing of the past,' he added.

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