Is Your Confidential Data Being Compromised When You Travel?

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This is sobering information which came across Aunty’s desk today. It pertains to the business traveler (although it could equally apply to those traveling for pleasure), and how with today’s ubiquitous USB drives, a trail of confidential corporate data is often left behind.

The information, put out by security company Keynesis, starts out by reminding us that “You might not realize it, but each time you or your employees travel and use a computer that is not their own, private and sometimes confidential information is left behind. When you open a document from your USB drive a temporary copy is stored on the local drive, when you use the local browser you leave cookies, history of the visited sites and more.”

Do you think about that when you use your USB drive? Are your colleagues aware of the trail they may be leaving?

Does your place of employment have a corporate policy dealing with the use of portable data storage devices? If not, they should.

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The Keynesis note went on to say that “Many users carry their data on these portable drives, together with some application programs, instead of toting a portable PC. Once they get to a PC – at work, at an internet cafe or a customer site, they simply plug in their portable drive and work with their data. However, this poses several data security and privacy threats. Their small size, make USB flash drives easy to misplace or lose. Considering the fact that they may contain the equivalent data of more than 1000 floppy disks, this is a lot of data that can fall into the wrong hands. Another thing to consider is that while one may think that when working on any PC the data remains on the USB flash disk, the truth is that a lot of the data, together with personal information is left on temporary files on the hard disk of the PC in the course of normal work.”

Keynesis, of course, makes products designed to address these issues, including a security and encryption program for USB drive data, and something called “Keynesis Portable Sweeper” which removes all temporary and Internet files associated with the USB drive’s user before the USB drive is removed from the host computer.

Nothing, however, can protect against user cluelessness or carelessness, and so it’s vital that people understand how secure, or not, the data on their host-connected USB drive is, and treat it accordingly.

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