This week’s revelation that the UK Ministry of Defence has lost approximately 600 laptops is just the latest in a long line of examples of organisations being sloppy about securing devices that contain confidential personal data. With TJ Maxx, Nationwide Building Society and King’s Mill Hospital in Nottinghamshire all losing critical information as a result of laptop theft, it’s clear that no industry sector is immune.
On the face of it, a straightforward solution to this problem would be to ban employees from downloading confidential data onto all portable devices, but Alcatel-Lucent argues this approach is impractical. Laptop sales are now greater than desktop sales and changing working practices mean employees are required to – and desire to – work more flexibly, from anywhere and at anytime. Instead of turning the laptop into a ‘second-class’ device, which staff can only use for less critical communications, Alcatel-Lucent believes that organisations should focus resources on deploying methods to remotely ‘kill’ laptops the very moment they go missing.
Alcatel-Lucent has developed a laptop security and management system – the OmniAccess 3500 Nonstop Laptop Guardian (www.laptopguardian.co.uk) – 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.
“Laptops are engrained into modern working practices, businesses simply can’t ditch them – or limit their usability – without negatively impacting on their everyday operations,” said Dor Skuler, from the Alcatel-Lucent Ventures Group, which developed this technology. “The ability to remotely kill a missing laptop means that, instead of introducing draconian policies that restrict the use of these devices, organisations can continue to allow their employees to work flexibility without risking security.”