Data Encryption Software: Tapes With Sensitive Data Falls Off Truck, Rammed Into Oblivion.

Officials in Cuyahoga County, Ohio are looking for a box that contains data tapes with the personal information of 300 people.  Fortunately, drive encryption software was used to secure the  contents of the tapes, so the chances of a full-blown data breach are minimal, if not impossible.

According to reports, a driver for Iron Mountain–a company that stores documents, and has been involved in data breaches in the past (which, is bound to happen on a statistical basis.  These guys do a lot of business)–dropped a container from his truck as he was speeding away.

The entire incident was caught on a security camera.  Then, another car came around and knocked the box (don’t people believe in swerving anymore?) out of the camera’s line of sight.  By the time the Iron Mountain employee came back to search for the box, it had disappeared.

The county–in a brilliant move–had already encrypted the contents of the tapes prior to packing them and handing them over for storage.  I say brilliant because:

  • The act has prevented a data breach, a real one, from occurring (depending on a person’s point of view, the loss of the tapes may be considered a data breach regardless of the fact that encryption prevents access to the information).

  • Iron Mountain had an incident about two years ago where GE’s tapes went missing while under storage (actually, I’m assuming this Iron Mountain is also that Iron Mountain).  While it’s impossible to tell who was responsible for that past breach, I think everyone involved can agree that not having the tapes encrypted was a colossal mistake because it’s that much easier to glean information from the tapes.

When it comes to data security, encryption could very well be the last line of defense when everything else fails.  Unlike locked storage facilities, encryption software is a data-centric security tool.  In other words, it protects data by being part of the data–without the right password, it’s impossible to separate the protection from the information.

This differs with data protection solutions like physical locks, where a sledgehammer could easily separate the protection from the information.

I wonder how much the county was prompted to encrypt their data because of that one data breach that plagued Ohio.  There was the case of the intern that left tapes in his car overnight, and resulted in all OH state workers having their names and SSNs breached.  The same incident then added another 225,000 names and SSNs, proving that when it comes to data, you should be rather safe than sorry….

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