Monday, June 16, 2008

Smaller Storage Devices Bring Bigger Data Security Problems

If you have been staying updated with the latest in storage devices, few issues are glaring. The first is that storage devices are growing smaller, thumbdrives have today become lighter, smaller and slimmer. The second thing is that, the storage capacity on these small storage devices is increasing. And ofcourse, all this is happening with a fall in price too. All this sounds great to the tech guys but wait a minute, there are several dangers too. Whether you are a personal computer user or working as an I.T manager in a huge organization, the problems posed by these small storage devices are real and they (problems) are growing.

Losing one such small storage device means that, a lot of your data could fall into alien hands. There was a very interesting and alarming news report a couple of years ago. The report mentioned that, a local town market in Afghanistan had vendors selling used thumb drives! A small investigation by the mighty and powerful U.S army in the vicinity revealed something quite unbelievable. These thumb drives infact belonged to the U.S army and had information stored by army personnel. The data was probably outdated and they decided to discard the thumb drives. These landed in dustbins and the garbage collectors innocently sorted out the garbage and tried to sell them in the local market.

Office computers face another threat from these small storage devices. It is very easy for staff to bring in a thumb drive and load confidential information into the drive. The devices are so small that they can be hidden in shoes, waterbottles etc. A leading jeweler in Asia once faced a situation where one of their designers actually copied the companies designs on to a thumb drive. She then slipped the thum drive into her high ankle shoes and tried to pass security. High security in a jewelry factory ensured that the incident was quickly caught and reported. However, you surely cannot expect this level of security to be maintained in all industries.

Finally, mobile phones with cameras equipped with high capacity small storage devices continue to pose severe security threats. Video clips and images of confidential documents, products and even office and factory layouts can be recorded on these phones. The information can either be carried home in the device or, emailed through the device right out of the office. These phones have their own internet connections and need not tresspass on company networks.

Warning: Information leaked through mobile phones is not easy to detect. Most organizations check belongings of staff only when they leave office. This is not done when staff enters the office. The staff can safely get in a mobile phone equipped with a camera and audio recording facility. The confidential information recorded can include data files, images, video clips and even voice recordings. Once done, the information can be emailed out of the office right from the desk of the staff. The internet connection used is not related to the company network so cannot be intercepted. The staff can then erase the information and leave the mobile phone in the office when going home. A security check at the gate will not find the mobile phone and the information would have left the office without anyones knowledge!!!.

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