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SafeBoot calls for greater protection of consumer data

SafeBoot : 29 August, 2007  (Technical Article)
SafeBoot comments on the recent laptop theft that left the sensitive information of thousands of pensioners vulnerable
280,000 New York pensioners have been left vulnerable following the theft of a laptop from a financial information services agency (FSA) consultant. The laptop contained social security numbers.

Tom de Jongh, product manager, SafeBoot, a mobile encryption and security specialist, accepts that we live in a world full of criminal activity, but believes that consumers have a right to expect their sensitive information is looked after properly and kept out of harms way:

"As consumers, we trust our data is being held sensibly and safely by the businesses and organisations it rests with. We have seen a number of data leakage incidents over the past few months from banks, hospitals, local government and payroll agencies. This is another case to add to the long list of people being let down and left exposed to identity theft.

"For those organisations that are entrusted with the public's information, such as banks, data protection should be a priority. The ball was clearly dropped in this case. It's not easy to prevent the theft of mobile hardware - nearly a quarter of UK workers have lost their laptop or had it stolen - but it is easy to protect the data held on these devices.

"Security policies are relatively simple to put in place and, as these pensioners have experienced, it can be costly to think otherwise. Data encryption is the best way to ensure sensitive data can only be accessed by legitimate eyes. If the stolen laptop had been encrypted, the pensioners' data would not have been left in such a vulnerable position. In fact, had the laptop been encrypted it could have been left in the middle of the busiest street in New York with no risk to its data.

"The key is implementing security policies and encryption that protects all data. This simple action reduces the risk of costly identity theft situations and businesses, governments and consumers can rest easy. Maybe financial institutions should also consider what information is kept on devices that leave the office - maybe prevention is better than a cure."

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