Data breaches, regulations fueling data encryption

US Government agencies, banks at forefront of data encryption usage

Although data encryption adds cost and complexity, business and government sectors are becoming wedded to it -- even though at times it's like an arranged marriage driven by regulatory compliance and fear of data-breach fiascos.

"We now require encryption for data at rest on laptops in the Air Force," says Greg Garcia, member of the senior executive service of the US Air Force and director of the 754th Electronic Systems Group at Gunter Air Force Base. The group sets security policy for the 500,000 laptops used by the Air Force.

"The contract we awarded for this grew out of what happened at Veterans Affairs," Garcia points out, alluding to the data-breach fiascos of this year and last that led to millions of veterans' personal information being exposed on lost and stolen laptops.

The VA data-breach incidents spurred the White House Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Defense and the civilian-side General Services Administration to look at governmentwide approaches for "data at rest" encryption.

The outcome was the US government's first-ever blanket purchasing agreements (BPAs) for data-at-rest encryption products to protect sensitive but unclassified data on government laptops and removable storage devices.

BPAs were awarded in June to eleven resellers, including Intelligent Decisions, MTM Technologies and GovBuys.

The encryption products on the lists include Mobile Armor's Data Armor, SafeBoot's (acquired by McAfee for US$350 million in October) SafeBoot Device Encryption, Information Security's Secret Agent, SafeNet's SafeNet protectDrive,

Encryption Solutions' Skylock At-Rest, Pointsec Mobile Technologies' Pointsec, Syprus' Talisman/DS Data Security Suite, WinMagic's SecureDoc, Credant Technologies' CredantMobile Guardian and GuardianEdge Technologies' GuardianEdge.

State and local government viewpoint

What's known as the data-at-rest encryption BPAs are also available for use by state and local governments. The Tennessee Department of Revenue is going its own way in adding encryption to its mobile laptops by deploying Entrust encryption software this fall.

"Our data is very confidential, and we have a mobile workforce of about 300 auditors and revenue officers who travel across the country as well as the state," says Don Derrick, director of information technology resources. "Our strategy is to encrypt these devices first."

The two Entrust software products, Entrust Entelligence Disk Security and Media Security, costs US$149 and US$28 per licensee, respectively. The department cannot afford to give encryption software to all its employees, although the department now requires encryption to keep personal financial information protected on a mobile computers carried from place to place.

"This is our policy now, and if you're writing to a DVD or CD to be given to a citizen, any confidential data has to be encrypted there too," says Derrick. The citizen would get a password courtesy of Tennessee to decrypt the data.

While the agency didn't decide to deploy encryption specifically because of the VA data-breach incidents, Derrick acknowledges it's hard to forget them.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ellen Messmer

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?