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Where to Store Data? Security is the Key

Ara Trembly
Insurance Experts' Forum, May 3, 2010

As a blogger, journalist, researcher and consultant, I always have plenty of important projects under way, and for me—as for most—my data and information are the lifeblood of my business endeavors.

Today’s technology offers us many ways and many places to store critical data. Naturally, the sellers of these technologies will tout their products as the optimal solution. Backing up critical data off-site offers obvious advantages in case of a physical problem at one’s offices. But does it make sense to keep all of our data in-house, or off-site in some remote system, or in the virtual cloud? The answer lies, as always, in balancing the perceived level of risk with the need to have data handy for various business activities.

Today, Imation Corp. launched a broad portfolio of products to protect information on external hard drives, flash drives, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and similar “at-rest” storage devices from hackers, identity thieves and other electronic intruders. The company’s says its new Defender Collection line of digital storage products “is engineered to meet rigorous domestic and international encryption standards, as well as protect government, financial, health care, consumer and other industries for which data security is paramount.”

“The need for data-at-rest security solutions is rapidly growing, with data breaches costing U.S. organizations at least $45 billion annually,” said Keith Schwartz, director of strategic growth and public sector for Imation's global commercial business. No doubt, but the real question here involves the best place to store data for maximum security coupled with minimum access time.

There’s no denying that claiming increased security for my data appeals to me, and it should appeal equally to insurance and broker enterprises. In any enterprise, however, users will inevitably resort to the storage methods and media that are handiest, and that involve the least work. That’s just human nature. Often the easiest storage path involves portable media that can easily be left in a bathroom, lost in a taxi, dropped into an unknown crevice behind your desk or appropriated by your kids for their own unique storage needs.

Imation’s secure data storage portfolio includes products that range from enterprise to personal use, providing “strong authentication, encryption, management and digital identity technologies. The new portfolio includes flash drives, external hard drives, optical storage and software that prevent unauthorized access to confidential data.”

I think they are onto something here. Try as we might, we’re not going to be able to shut off the flow of information out of our enterprises and into the cars, homes and travel locations of our employees, where the data may easily be lost. Many organizations have strict policies about allowing confidential data outside the enterprise, but—usually to suit someone’s convenience—it inevitably occurs. And when it does occur, many bad things can happen.

It makes a great deal of sense to distribute more secure storage media to employees who need their data to be more portable. We can try to regulate employees’ behavior around data, or we can try to make allowances for human frailties and find other ways to protect the data. I recommend both.

Of course, if we could just eliminate these unreliable humans from the equation altogether, we wouldn’t have to worry about such things. Thankfully for the breathing among us, that hasn’t happened yet.

Ara C. Trembly (www.aratremblytechnology.com) is the founder of Ara Trembly, The Tech Consultant, and a longtime observer of technology in insurance and financial services.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Ara using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at ara@aratremblytechnology.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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