Latest data loss bungles highlight the need to encrypt files and folders at source

The story that personal data of a million bank customers was found on a computer sold on eBay and the latest data loss bungle at the Home Office with thousands of criminal records on a USB key going missing, yet again highlights the need to protect sensitive data by encrypting it.

But instead of looking at specific technologies such as laptop or USB encryption, the focus should be on encrypting files and folders at source. Then, it doesn't matter whether it is saved on a server, desktop, laptop or memory stick; if the data is lost or falls into the wrong hands it remains useless.

Encryption also has to be easy to use and follow central organisational policies. No single user should be able to decide what is to be encrypted and encrypted files should only be copied or moved to other encrypted folders.

With such a string of data loss headlines, it is difficult to understand why these measures to secure data wherever it is - have not been implemented already."

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