Laptop Encryption Software: Case Western Reserve University Alumni Data Breach.

Case Western Reserve University is contacting 600 former students that they are at an elevated risk for identity theft following the loss of two laptop computers.  Hard drive encryption like AlertBoot was not used on the computers, despite these holding Social Security numbers going all the way back to 1987.

Theft from Art Studio Building

According to, CWRU has notified 600 alumni that their names and SSNs were lost when two laptop computers were stolen a couple of months ago from the CWRU art studio building.  Information dates back to 1987, which either makes the laptops incredibly old (and incredibly heavy) or indicates that someone has been copying data to and fro from computers.

Now, while the information was not protected with encryption software, there was software that “allows data to be remotely removed in case of theft.”  The only problem: it was never activated, so it can’t be used.

Encryption: Centrally Managed and Activated

Problems like these are actually quite…well, I don’t want to say “common” but it’s definitely not rare.  I guess you could say it’s not ucommon, but that implies that it is common, creating this circular logic that I can’t make my way out of…but you get the point, don’t you?

Anyhow, such problems even exist in the realm of disk encryption software for laptops.  You’ll see instances where:

(a) a computer was never encrypted, despite the software to do so being there,
(b) the user turned off the disk encryption without the IT department’s knowledge, or
(c) the computer never got vetted for encryption, ever, so not only is it not encrypted, the installer for the encryption software is just not there.

Such problems are “not uncommon,” which is why any company or organization — be it a Fortune 500, SMB, a charity, an academic organization, etc. — that is looking for an encryption solution should look for one that is centrally managed and deployed.  (Yes, AlertBoot is included in this group of solutions, so I’m tooting our horn here).

The centralization of encryption allows an organization to quickly and easily deploy the encryption solution to multiple computers.  Furthermore, it makes management of said computers easier.  Imagine auditing computers to see if they are actually encrypted: what’s easier, running a report that hits all computers for their encryption status, or sending the latest IT hire to go check on computers one by one?  What about updating encryption or password policies?  How about locking people out of computers?

My own rule of thumb: if you have to manage more than 20 computers, you definitely want centralized management.

Of course, there are benefits for going with the AlertBoot solution even if you’re in charge of, say, five computers or even one computer: we provide 24/7 password recovery for laptops and we also backup encryption keys so that you don’t have to.

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