A Disturbing Development

By David Coursey  |  Posted 2005-05-04 Print this article Print

Speaking of which, did you ever think youd see the loss of a few backup tapes making national news? Sure, if the tapes contained nuclear launch codes, but some personnel record backups that were more likely lost than stolen?
Now, its good we hear about such things, and I support the mandatory disclosure laws designed to protect consumers when their data is lost or stolen.
(The fact that weve come to this is disturbing on many levels. It says something about our reliance on technology and the vulnerabilities it creates that I dont like one bit. But, I digress…) After the fourth tape loss, Iron Mountain late last month advised customers that encryption was necessary to protect sensitive backup data, even when left in its "supremely secure" hands. I am not sure why this should surprise anyone, though I saw a survey that said only 7 percent of companies routinely encrypt their backup data. To me, that number seems low by about 93 percentage points. On the other hand, encryption can be a real pain, and if youre handing your tapes to a rigorously screened, trained staffer, why worry? Now, theres no reason—thus far—to believe any of this data has fallen into bad hands. There are many places these backups could wind up that arent on the drives of a Romanian identity theft gang. All we have right now is an embarrassing situation that inconveniences, apparently, everyone who has worked for Time Warner in the past decade, as well as their dependents. If your tapes get lost, dont you want your CEO to tell the world they used strong encryption? Sure you would, so the moral of this story is: Well, you already know. Contributing editor David Coursey has spent two decades writing about hardware, software and communications for business customers.

One of technology's most recognized bylines, David Coursey is Special Correspondent for eWeek.com, where he writes a daily Blog (blog.ziffdavis.com/coursey) and twice-weekly column. He is also Editor/Publisher of the Technology Insights newsletter and President of DCC, Inc., a professional services and consulting firm.

Former Executive Editor of ZDNet AnchorDesk, Coursey has also been Executive Producer of a number of industry conferences, including DEMO, Showcase, and Digital Living Room. Coursey's columns have been quoted by both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and he has appeared on ABC News Nightline, CNN, CBS News, and other broadcasts as an expert on computing and the Internet. He has also written for InfoWorld, USA Today, PC World, Computerworld, and a number of other publications. His Web site is www.coursey.com.

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