Mobile Device Protection: Encryption For Those Times When Disaster Hits…Like At The Gym.

Fairfax County police in Virginia have busted a small theft ring that was operating out of a Life Time Gym. (My interest was piqued because I read that as LifeTime Gym. I don’t know what I was expecting to see.  Wronged women bulking up to enact revenge on their wayward husbands, I guess.)


By the time the ring was busted, police found in the thieves’ possession “33 iPods, seven BlackBerries, three Treos, two cell phones, a Nokia PDA, two Apple TVs, 24 Toshiba disc drives, two digital cameras, a Dell computer, a credit card, 33 bags of marijuana and three digital scales.” []


That’s a heck of a haul.  And also, let us remember, this is what was found at the end of the investigation.  I’m sure that there were plenty of other things that were sold off prior to the thieves getting busted.


BlackBerries, Treos, PDAs, computers, disk drives…these are all products that, traditionally, have been used by business people, although their use is gradually filtering down to laypeople.  In certain cases, such as laptops and external disk drives, it’s already widely used in the realm of the average population.  Due to their nature, it’s not a wild guess that a lot of these mobile devices, if not most, contain sensitive information in them.


Some devices already have security built in mind, like BlackBerries: passwords can be alphanumeric, and longer than the usual 4- to 5?character long passwords found on phones.  Plus, ten wrong guesses will delete everything on the device.  Now, that’s security; a little heavy?handed perhaps, but I’d definitely put it under the “pros” column when evaluating products.  However, there are plenty of devices out there that aren’t designed with data security in mind.  Left unprotected without encryption, getting information from such devices is a walk in the park.


For the disk drives, it’s just a matter of connecting it to a computer; plug and play.  With a laptop, it’s just a matter of booting it up.  If there’s a password in place, you can bypass it quite easily (Google it up if you’re really curious—not that I’m advocating doing this to machines other than yours).  BlackBerries,Treos, and PDAs?  You could pop out the SIM card, if the device has it, and read some or all of the contents (Google gives results on that, too).  Plus, four starred?out numbers?  An afternoon and a half is all it takes to break that obstacle for most digital devices; you just try all combinations from 0000 to 9999.  Two days if it’s five stars.  Combine that “security” with the unbreachable citadel that is one’s gym locker and you’ve got…little security.  Two times nothing is nothing; two times one-one hundredths of something is virtually nothing.


What you want is real security.  Since you can’t have two?inch thick steel gym locker doors, and at some point you’re going to forget that you had that PDA in your gym bag, there’s only one thing you can do to protect your data and prevent a data breach: encrypt your devices.  In this day and age, it’d be insanity not to.  With an encryption service provider like AlertBoot, you can easily encrypt and keep track of devices, including PDAs and SmartPhones.  It will encrypt whole disk drives on laptops and desktops, of course.  Or, if you prefer, you can opt to encrypt files only.

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