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"Absolute Software Corporation (TSX: ABT) is the leader in Computer Theft Recovery, Data Protection and Secure Asset Tracking&8482; solutions. Absolute Software provides individuals and organizations of all types and sizes with solutions to manage regulatory compliance, data protection and theft recovery."
Source : Absolute Software
Endpoint Security: Data Protection for IT, Freedom for Laptop Users
End Point Security is also known as :
End Point Security,
Network Access Control,
Network Security Products,
IT Security Professionals,
End Point Security Control Over Data,
End Point Security Control Over Firewalls,
End Point Security Control Over Wireless,
IT Security Framework,
Information Security Concept,
End Point Security Software,
End Point Security Policy System,
End Point Security Solution,
End Point Security Management,
Desktop Security Software,
Desktop Security Solutions.
A worldwide shift towards the use of mobile devices coupled with recently-enacted
data breach legislation has created a new challenge for IT organizations: balancing
the enhanced productivity of mobile computing with the requirement to protect
sensitive information from data breach. Many organizations have tackled mobile
computer security with corporate policy, others with encryption technology. Both
strategies are heavily reliant on end-user diligence to remain effective. Only the
introduction of end-point security ' the ability to force mobile computers to secure
themselves ' offers end-users the freedom to embrace mobility and IT departments
robust protection for sensitive information.
Table of Contents
- The Case for Endpoint Security
- Survey Sheds Light on Holes in Data Breach Protection
- Case Study: Hospital Employee Tapes Encryption Key to Stolen Laptop
- Lessons from Recent Data Breaches
- Computrace ' Data Protection for IT, Freedom for Laptop Users
- More Information
The Case for Endpoint Security
In 2008, one in every two computers in the world will be a laptop.
The worldwide shift from stationary desktop computers to highly-portable laptop and
tablet PC computers offers organizations increased productivity, flexible work schedules
and greater work/life balance. Driven by the need for increased productivity and the
ability to present up-to-date information at a moment"s notice, secure mobile computing
can be an organization"s greatest strength. However, research indicates that lost or
stolen laptop computers cause nearly 50% of public data breaches.3 With recentlyexpanded
state data breach legislation, even a single lost or stolen computer can expose
organizations to the negative publicity and increased costs associated with public data
To protect themselves, many organizations have developed sophisticated IT asset use
policies while others have combined policy with encryption technology in hopes of
better securing computers and the sensitive information they contain. While these are
necessary steps, organizations still struggle to compensate for the "human factor."
According to a recent survey of 1,400 enterprises, more than 60% of data breaches are
the work of those operating within the firewall ' insiders such as employees, contractors
and others with ready access to sensitive information.4 Accidently or by design,
employees will always be the weakest link in computer security strategies that rely on
their diligence to provide consistent protection.
Rather than imposing strangling IT asset policies aimed at forcing end users to comply,
endpoint security strategies use centrally-managed technology to ensure that mobile
devices such as laptops secure themselves. Using readily-available computer theft
recovery, remote data delete and Internet-based IT asset management, organizations
can free end-users from computer security responsibilities while ensuring maximum
protection for computers and the information stored on them.
Endpoint Security Defined
Endpoint security is a security strategy
that emphasizes distributing security
software onto end-user devices such
as mobile devices or laptop computers
while retaining central management
over the security software. Traditionally,
organizations used corporate firewalls
and other intrusion detection systems
to protect corporate networks from
potentially compromised endpoints. In
today"s laptop-dominated environment,
endpoint security strategies place the
responsibility for security on the device
itself. This next generation of security
strategy is already common in the form of
anti-spam filters, desktop level firewalls
and anti-virus software programs.
Recognizing that organizations cannot
rely on end-users to consistently follow
IT policy or diligently apply security
software, endpoint security seeks to
eliminate the requirement for end-user
involvement to be effective.
Survey Sheds Light on Holes in Data Breach Protection
In September 2007, Research Concepts LLC asked 185 members of NetworkWorld"s
Technology Opinion Panel about the state of computer and data security in their
organizations. The results revealed that, although computer and data security are high
priorities for corporations, they are nevertheless unprepared to prevent data breaches
and computer theft. Common approaches to computer security aimed at minimizing the
possibility of data breach were consistently undermined by employees. Indeed, those
surveyed reported that only one in 100 employees consistently follows corporate data and
Physical Security and Authentication
The simplest form of laptop computer security involves protecting the computer and its
physical environment. According to Research Concepts, more than 31% of organizations
surveyed provide laptop users with cable locks to secure their computers when out of
the office. Nearly 94% reported the use of password-based authentication on laptop
computers. Interestingly, this same survey group indicated that they believed employees
were responsible for most incidents of data breach within their organizations. Clearly,
many organizations believe that despite basic precautions such as providing laptop locks
and password-protecting computers, employees remain the weakest link in security
Data Breach Regulation Across
The 2002, California Senate Bill
1386 added a new, public dimension
to regulatory compliance. In the
event of a data breach such as a lost
laptop computer containing sensitive
information, the bill requires organizations
to notify all parties whose personal
information has been exposed.5 Following
California"s lead, 36 additional states have
enacted similar data breach laws. The
Ponemon Institute estimates that it costs
a company $197 per missing record when
a breach occurs.
Research Concepts found that 58% of organizations currently promote polices for the
safe use of mobile computing devices and for accessing sensitive files. The University
of Miami Office of HIPAA Privacy and Security for example, details the circumstances
under which students and medical staff may download electronic protected
health information to a laptop computer. The fact remains however, that despite
these organizational policies, busy salespeople, unknowing marketers and harried
administrative staff will contravene policy and load sensitive information onto portable
computers. With more than 600,000 laptops stolen each year in the United States,
companies relying on organizational policy to protect sensitive data will continue to fuel
data breach media headlines.
High Tech Protection: Encryption and IT Asset Management
More than 50% of organizations surveyed by Research Concepts indicated that they
protected sensitive information with encryption software. A further 43% reported the
use of asset tracking software. Simply knowing where all mobile computers are located
is a powerful security measure, however, traditional IT asset management solutions are
designed to track only those laptops that connect to a local area network (LAN) or virtual
private network (VPN) connection. For a large proportion of laptop users, returning to
head office is an intermittent event ' allowing many laptop computers to remain below
the radar of IT.
Encryption software is commonly referred to as the computer security "fall back". In
the event that a computer protected by organizational policy and physical deterrents
is stolen, sensitive information on the laptop is made unreadable by encryption. For
encryption software to be effective however, laptop users must consistently and
accurately follow company encryption policy. Even more worrisome is the fact that more
than 30% of companies believe employees are actively involved in the theft of company
computers. Armed with the necessary passwords and encryption keys to access data,
disgruntled or dishonest employees represent a threat that cannot be addressed by
The common failing of these laptop security measures is the fact that they are heavily
reliant on the diligent action of laptop-using employees to remain effective. If a cable
lock is not used, an authentication password is taped to the keyboard for convenience
or a regular encryption process not completed, organizations remain unnecessarily
vulnerable to public data breach. By the same token, complex, expensive and ultimately
productivity-dampening security measures may be effective but greatly reduce the
benefits of laptop computers. Endpoint security solutions complement other security
measures by providing a final, user-independent layer of protection.
Stolen Laptop Leads to
"Just last month, security company
VeriSign(VRSN) announced that a contract
worker reported that her laptop, which
held employee information, was stolen
from her car. The employee no longer
works at the company. A company
spokeswoman told InformationWeek at
the time that the woman, who worked in
VeriSign"s human resources department,
failed to comply with company policies
that mandate that data be encrypted
and that employee information not be
downloaded on laptop computers."
Case Study: Hospital Employee Tapes Encryption Key to Stolen Laptop
Hospital Employee Tapes Encryption Key to Stolen Laptop
IT and security staff at a 2,400-physician Michigan-based hospital were justifiably
concerned when they learned that a nurse"s laptop computer had been stolen. Of
greater concern was the fact that the nurse had contravened the hospital"s data security
policy and affixed the laptop"s encryption key to the front of the computer. Fortunately,
the hospital had protected the laptop with the Computrace endpoint security solution
from Absolute Software.
After alerting police, the hospital contacted the Absolute Recovery Team and let the
team know that they were very concerned over the health information contained in
the laptop. Rather than attempting to physically recover the computer, the Absolute
Recovery Team recommended an immediate Data Delete operation to remove the
sensitive information from the laptop.
Having promptly deleted all sensitive information from the computer, hospital officials
maintained the computer"s security. Hospital officials estimate that the quick action
resulted in cost savings of between $80 and $100 per health record in data breachrelated
Endpoint Security Remains
Effective When Other Security
Organizations that deal with sensitive
information need to provide layers of
protection for the data they hold ' each
layer working to bolster protection.
With endpoint security at the core
of security strategies, organizations
are able to remotely delete data and
physically recover stolen computers in the
event that other security strategies are
Lessons from Recent Data Breaches
Data breaches that went unnoticed
historically are now highly-publicized
affairs as a result of recent state data
Boston, Massachusetts - Forrester Research announced that a laptop stolen from
one of the research firm"s employees had potentially exposed the names, addresses
and social security numbers of an undisclosed number of employees and directors.
In a letter mailed to those affected, Forrester"s Chief People Officer Elizabeth Lemons
indicated that the laptop was password protected but made no mention of encryption.
The incident proved especially embarrassing for the research firm that often consults on
data security strategies for mid-market and Fortune 500 companies.
Aspen Hill, Maryland ' U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that a notebook
computer containing the names, birthdates, Social Security numbers and limited health
information of 26.5 million veterans and active-duty military personnel had been stolen.
It took Veteran"s Affairs officials more than two weeks to publicly disclose the breach.
The laptop, stolen from the data analyst working for VA, became part of the largest data
breach in U.S. history. The theft prompted a series of hearings in the U.S. Congress that
criticized the VA"s data security processes and resulted in legislation that compels the VA
to immediately notify congress in the event of a data breach.
Detroit, Michigan ' Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan announced in a Website
statement and via personalized letters to members that the information of approximately
1,560 members and two staff had been breached. Information contained on a laptop
stolen from an employee"s home included names and health insurance contract
numbers. Approximately 120 records also included Social Security numbers. Despite
BCBSM internal policy that requires the encryption of health information and closelymonitored
circumstances that allow downloading health information onto portable
devices, the employee"s laptop was unprotected. Disciplinary actions are pending
completion of investigations into the incident.
Computrace: Data Protection for IT, Freedom for Laptop Users
Computrace from Absolute Software is an on-demand endpoint security solution
designed to provide robust data breach protection regardless of end user action.
Centrally managed via an Online Customer Center, Computrace operates without end
user knowledge or assistance ' tracking computers regardless of location, remotely
deleting sensitive information and assisting police in recovering those computers that go
Perfectly complementing organizational policy and encryption technologies, Computrace
addresses data breach protection challenges including:
Emergency Data Delete ' Computrace allows IT professionals to remotely delete
sensitive information from missing laptops. Organizations can then assess whether they
are required to publicly announce a data breach.
Accurately Inventorying Computers ' By logging into the Online Customer Center,
IT personnel can create near real time reports on the computers in their inventory, their
configuration, current user and location ' whether they are connected to the local area
network or in the field.
Recovery ' Using Computrace, the Absolute Recovery Team can track missing
computers and work with local law enforcement to recover the computer backed by a
$1,000 Recovery Guarantee.
Policy Enforcement ' Computrace can detect unauthorized software installations,
missing hardware and can report on software installed ' allowing IT departments to
ensure that key programs such as anti-virus are current.
Lifecycle Management ' In addition to remotely deleting confidential information
in emergency situations, Computrace can be used to automatically delete data from
computers at lease end or at retirement date.
How Computrace Works
The Computrace Software Agent is built into computers from the world"s leading
computer manufacturers during the manufacturing process. Customers activate
Computrace when they purchase a subscription to Absolute"s endpoint security
solutions. When a computer protected by Computrace is reported stolen, the embedded
Computrace agent sends a silent signal to Absolute"s Monitoring Center providing critical
location information. Absolute then works with local law enforcement to recover the
computer. If the missing computer cannot be recovered within 60 days, the Computrace
customer may be eligible for a Recovery Guarantee of up to $1,000. The stealthy
Computrace Software Agent can survive accidental or deliberate attempts at removal or
disablement. With embedded support in the BIOS of a computer, the Computrace agent
is capable of surviving operating system re-installations, as well as hard-drive reformats,
replacements and re-imaging.
About Absolute Software
Absolute Software Corporation (TSX: ABT) is the leader in Computer Theft
Recovery, Data Protection and Secure Asset Tracking&8482; solutions. Absolute
Software provides organizations and consumers with solutions in the areas
of regulatory compliance, data protection and theft recovery. The Company"s
Computrace® software is embedded in the BIOS of computers by global leaders,
including Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, Lenovo, Motion, Panasonic and Toshiba, and the
Company has reselling partnerships with these OEMs and others, including Apple.
For more information about Absolute Software and Computrace, visit
www.absolute.com or http://blog.absolute.com.
For more information on data breach
protection and Absolute"s complete range
of endpoint security solutions , contact
Absolute Software today.
Suite 1600, Four Bentall Centre
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Tel: 1-800-220-0733 or 604-730-9851