You don’t need a costume to be scary at Halloween

The ghosts, goblins and ghouls are out in full force as All Hallows’ Eve approaches today. As fun and scary as Halloween can be, there are still plenty of other scary happenings going out in the world of data security.

Recently there have been plenty of reminders, from my perspective, about the importance of data security, and I continue to be amazed at how many organizations aren’t encrypting sensitive information. Two of the most recent examples come from the U.S. (Via SC Magazine):

The theft of two laptops has led to a compromise of personal information, including Social Security numbers, for more than 700,000 patients of California-based AHMC hospitals… Thieves broke into a sixth-floor administration office in Alhambra and stole two hospital laptops.”

Sadly, it’s taken this circumstance for an encryption policy to be implemented. But the damage has already been done, and if you’re a person that’s at risk because the data has been stolen, that’s a pretty scary situation.

In the other instance, “Hundreds of students at Denver’s Eagleton Elementary, Castro Elementary and Munroe Elementary schools may be at risk after a thumb drive containing information on the pupils was stolen from a school nurse’s car.”

In both cases we see examples of laptops that aren’t encrypted or removable media, such as USB keys, not being encrypted. Two fundamental tenets of data security as we see it – full disk encryption should be the foundation of your device security followed by removable media encryption.

Both organizations now have to answer to the people whose information is now exposed and deal with the reputation and financial implications of such an event; something that could’ve been easily prevented by having a data encryption policy in place.

In any event, have a happy Halloween and safe trick-or-treating!

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