Laptop security: Securing corporate data for users on the go

Adhering to laptop security policies and best practices can prevent data loss and improve your organization's overall protection. Learn what midmarket organizations can do now.

Midmarket IT managers have a lot to think about when it comes to data protection -- there are more compliance regulations to meet and more consumer devices (including smartphones and netbooks) flooding the corporate space. As the number of data breaches continues to grow in 2010, so does the level of concern for organizations -- pushing companies to focus on enterprise-wide data protection that encompasses mobile devices and remote...

workers.

Additional threats and challenges, such as a lost laptop, highlight the need for increased security; but what should an IT manager keep in mind when he's securing corporate laptops and the important data stored on them? Consider the following tips when you're tightening your laptop security strategy:

Educate all users about the importance of laptop security and enforce your policies. Identify risks and spread the word to all users about what's being done and why it's important. One policy that should be in place is guidance for users about what they should do if they lose a company laptop.

Consider full-disk laptop encryption. Midmarket organizations are looking to full-disk encryption on company laptops to ensure they are meeting compliance regulations and state data-breach laws. There are many tools designed for this type of protection that SMBs can take advantage of. Smaller organizations may be able to get by with one of the free open source options, such as TruCrypt. Microsoft BitLocker,available for some Windows Vista and Windows 7 users, offers full-volume encryption; new versions will also encrypt data on removable media, such as USB flash drives.

When you're evaluating vendors and service offerings for full-disk encryption, keep ease of deployment and central management in mind. It's important that a smaller IT shop with many users and limited resources can do the overall installation automatically and in one shot.

Tighten laptop login requirements. Stress the importance of strong passwords, and ensure that password reentry is required for the initial boot, as well as on returning from standby or sleep mode, system hibernation, and screensaver time-outs.

It's important that Windows-based laptops have a standard security configuration, and that all systems automatically download and install security updates.

Be aware of noncompliant machines. Take steps to increase MacBook security by encrypting sensitive data and using antivirus software.

How are you working to ensure laptop security?; email editor@searchcio-midmarket.com.

This was first published in February 2010

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