Backup Tape Encryption Not As Prevalent At Companies, Leaves Large Data Security Hole.

According to Thales, the French aerospace, defense, and security company, more than thirty percent of companies surveyed do not know whether they will protect their back up tapes with encryption.  Plus, it was found that backup tape encryption pretty much came in last when it comes to data encryption — much further behind than data protection solutions like full disk encryption and file encryption.

The survey found that, in fact, that mobile device and USB device encryption is deployed more often than backup tape encryption.  This is surprising…and yet, not so much.

It’s surprising because encryption software is generally used to protect data, and, the more data you have, the greater the need for protection.  Generally, a single backup tape will contain much more data than what you can find on your average USB device.  Many, many times more data.  And, because people tend to back up important files only, a disproportionate amount of information is concentrated in a backup tape.  In other words, megabyte per megabyte, chances are the loss of a backup tape is a much more serious data breach than the loss of a USB drive.  Why would companies not use data protection for tapes, then?

This is where the unsurprising aspect of the story kicks in.  Most people don’t deal with backup tapes.  The guys in IT tend to deal with them, the same guys you imagine are careful when it comes to data handling.  So, when you have a budget for encryption, and you have to maximize the value of those dollars do you…

1) Protect the backup tapes that contain lots of data but have a low probability of getting lost or stolen, since people who know their stuff are dealing with it; or
2) Protect all those little devices that contain some sensitive data, but have a higher probability of getting lost or stolen because they’re being used by…everybody?

The correct answer is to increase your budget so both can be covered.  Thinking that this is an either-or situation is a fallacy of the biggest order.  I mean, it’s tantamount to trying to make a decision on whether an internet-based company should pay their internet bills or their electricity bills (hint: they’re both critical).  There is no real choice there.  If your company deals with sensitive information so that employees need to use laptop encryption like AlertBoot hard drive encryption, then it only makes sense to employ file encryption on backup tapes as well.

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