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Monday, December 30, 2013

Stolen laptop causes data breach in South Carolina

The Associated Press reported that an auditor's laptop, which contained sensitive constituent information, was stolen, creating a data breach in South Carolina.

Category:   File Collaboration And Replication

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The need to transport information is unavoidable. Employees simply cannot hope to perform their job responsibilities without access to relevant data. Combined with the increasingly disparate, flexible nature of work today, and secure data transfer solutions are a necessity.

Yet many organizations, both public and private, continue to rely on suboptimal strategies for transferring information, and the results are frequently disastrous.

The most recent example of such an incident occurred in South Carolina. The Associated Press reported that an auditor's laptop, which contained sensitive constituent information, was stolen, creating a data breach.

Unsafe data
According to the AP, the theft occurred in October. The laptop, which contained information pertaining to 3,432 members of South Carolina's Health Insurance Pool, was stolen from an auditor's vehicle. The laptop contained a variety of personal information, including names and Social Security numbers.

An attorney representing the South Carolina Health Insurance Pool informed the AP that the laptop was password protected, but made no mention of encryption. Letters informing those potentially affected by the data breach were mailed out on December 18.

According to the attorney spokeswoman, there is no evidence that the information has been used for any attempted or successful fraud efforts, the AP reported.

Better options
This incident highlights the inherent danger of transporting sensitive information via physical means, such as external hard drives, flash drives or laptops. In all of these cases, there is a significant chance that the item in question will be lost or stolen. When this happens, passwords and encryption become the only barriers preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing the sensitive information stored on these devices. And while encryption can be an effective tool, it is common for employees to skip this step, leaving data vulnerable. As a general rule, when workers must choose between convenience and security, they will select the former option.

That is why organizations of all kinds need to embrace secure file transfer solutions that can enable the easy, safe transmission of data, including sensitive information. Only by making these tools available to workers can firms ensure that all of the data it handles will remain protected at every stage, including while it is in transit.

Among the most valuable options in this regard is wide area file services (WAFS). WAFS is a means of ensuring that employees can access the files they need when they need them, regardless of their physical location. By launching these tools, multiple employees can utilize a given document, even if they are separated by hundreds or thousands of miles. Furthermore, any individual worker can access a file from the office and then, if need be, access that same file from his or her home or while traveling via any Internet-connected device.

Critically, information accessed via a high-end WAFS solution will remain safe and secure at all times. As a result, it provides a much higher level of data protection than virtually any physical means of sending, receiving or accessing data.