If data is that sensitive, don't put it on your hard drive.

I was reading over the 10 Worst Security Breaches article and a clear pattern formed through the fog of the late-afternoon office lighting. All of these have one thing in common: they occurred out of the office. Remote access to information is one of the biggest double-edge swords in IT. It enables teleworking, remote access to traveling employees, and helps promote green operations through reduced centralized office space and power consumption. All that said, it also takes your company's sensitive information and places it onto a convenient, easily swipeable package: your laptop. I am sure you've all known someone who knew someone who had their laptop stolen. Worse yet, it may have happened to you. No amount of encryption you may have on your drive, not even the stuff that "can't be cracked," will make you feel better. You'll still have that uneasy feeling that all that information is in the hands of someone that wanted it, or just wanted to trade your laptop in for a 6-pack. There is one bright light in all of this - a solution from Nortel has presented itself to address the concerns which lie at the intersection of mobility and security. It's a USB dongle which securely grants access to your Enterprise. It prevents permanent downloads to the computer you are using while connected to your Enterprise. When you are done, it automatically wipes all activity off your computer when you log out or when the dongle is removed from the computer. Aside from security, you are also afforded a "second chance" - your information stays in the network. If your computer isn't stolen but it simply isn't near you or it is non-functioning, you can use the dongle in any computer with an Internet connection. When you walk away, you leave no trace as to what you did while connected. This may seem a lot like a thin client computing model, but it is really a hybridized version - you still have a local computer, functional as a standalone device with the standard suite of applications. Only the sensitive content is accessed in a "thin client" mode. This is also particularly handy for business continuity. Even if you only use a desktop computer, if you have this dongle and Internet access to your primary or backup servers, you can get online from anywhere. I had the situation where I used this device myself. I was in a hotel business center which didn't provide Internet access to a personal laptop but had PCs for use. I connected the dongle, logged in, and was able to access my IM client, my e-mail, and my internal portals. When I removed the dongle (without logging out) it wiped the computer clean. I reviewed the attachments I needed to, sent my replies, and continued on with my day. It may not solve every security problem an IT staff faces, but it certainly offers a great alternative to hoping your laptop's data doesn't get stolen or not being mobile at all. Secure mobile access = a secure portable office.

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