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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Encryption part of Defence battle

This report in the Australian IT says that the Department of Defence is to encrypt data held on laptops and cites the unfortunate loss of a disc containing details of the draft report concerning the mix up over the return of Private Kovco's body from Iraq as one of the reasons.

It's not only Defence that should be thinking about such a step - every government agency might need to better protect data in this way. I'm not aware that privacy commissioners in Australia have been advocating such a development, but it would seem to be a good practice standard expected of those who hold significant personal information.

A recent survey in the US found that 88% of organisations agree that automatic encryption of data on portable devices is the best way to avoid security breaches. According to ComputerWorld data security is a top priority for US IT managers in 2007.

Australian IT reports that the Defence Department has had 28 laptops lost or stolen since June 2005. Its sure bet that Defence aren't alone in this, but little information of this kind comes into the public domain here, in contrast to the running score card of data breaches in the US maintained by the Privacy Rights ClearinghousE - Starbucks is the latest addition, having lost 4 laptops with 60,000 employee names and records recently.

2006 might indeed be called the "Year of the stolen laptop".

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