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News

Remote data kill switch could prevent stolen laptop data loss

Alcatel-Lucent : 18 June, 2008  (Technical Article)
Latest high profile loss of government laptop highlights need for measures to prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands, something which can be achieved by remote data disabling
Alcatel-Lucent discovers that the laptop stolen from Communities Secretary Hazel Blears' office contained sensitive government data regarding defence and extremism - just the latest in the growing list of high profile organisations being sloppy about securing devices that contain confidential information. The MoD, Skipton Financial Services and Nationwide Building Society have all been guilty of losing critical information as a result of laptop loss, showing that no industry sector is immune.

Alcatel-Lucent argues that in order to prevent further eroding the general public's confidence, swift action must now be taken to ensure that employee laptops remain in the secure control of IT departments, and not individual workers, at all times.

"Laptops are currently being stolen from or lost by organisations with such alarming frequency that many now claim they should be banned from holding sensitive data at all - seriously inhibiting the benefits of working remotely. This knee-jerk reaction is extreme, especially given technology actually exists to prevent these problems from ever occurring in the first place," said Loic Flageul, business development manager at Alcatel-Lucent. "New laptop protection tools can ensure devices remain permanently secured, monitoring and managing them, and enforcing company security policies at all times. If necessary, these tools can allow IT departments to 'kill' the laptop and erase its contents, even if the device in question is switched off."

Alcatel-Lucent has developed a laptop security and management system - the OmniAccess 3500 Nonstop Laptop Guardian - that remotely secures, monitors, manages and locates mobile computers. If a laptop is reported lost or stolen, the solution can automatically destroy all data held on the device, even if the computer is turned off. The core technology of the solution consists of a secure, 'always on' computing system residing on a 3G broadband data card which includes a completely separate secure operating system and battery, and operates over any broadband, 3G or WiFi network. This enables the organisation to take remote control of any laptop in order to apply security patches, track its locations or simply kill the device.

"While educating staff can certainly help ensure they adhere to security policies, it's critical that the underlying systems used by organisations can automatically enforce these policies, preventing any accidental or purposeful attempts to breach them. Nonstop Laptop Guardian is designed to do just that, providing peace of mind for organisations and preventing the serious reputational damage that comes with data loss," added Flageul.

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