Dell Brings Data Protection and Encryption to Windows Systems

Dell Data Protection/Encryption uses file-level encryption to protect data on laptops, desktops, and external media, such as USB drives, eSATA and Firewire drives, optical storage, and SD cards.

Dell announced its Dell Data Protection/Encryption software to protect the data on endpoint devices against data breaches, the company said Nov. 17.

Designed to simplify endpoint encryption, Data Protection/Encryption protects data on laptops, desktops and external media, in case of loss or theft, said Dell. The software will be installed on Dell Latitude notebooks, Dell OptiPlex desktops and Dell Precision mobile and desktop workstations from the factory "in the coming weeks," according to David Konetski from the office of the CTO, Dell Business Client. He declined to provide eWEEK with a specific date.

The software uses file-level encryption to secure the device against data breaches. Instead of just encrypting the partition at once, or every single file automatically, Data Protection/Encryption encrypts only files that meet the administrator-defined criteria. The options can be based on the end-user profile, data sensitivity, and the organization's compliance needs, Dell said.

The software was co-developed by Dell with mobile security company Credant Technologies, said Konetski. With Credant's Cryptography Algorithm at the base, Dell developers added "an enhanced user interface, single management console and pre-set compliance templates," he said.

Konetski called Data Protection/Encryption a "foundational" product and additional security functionality specific to Dell are planned for future releases.

"Public exposure of private and highly sensitive data continues to occur in organizations both large and small," said Eric Ouellet, vice president, Secure Business Enablement, Gartner. "Managed endpoint encryption solutions that are flexible and adaptable to the demands of mobile users help minimize risks and are an important part of best practice frameworks."

The cost of data breaches is increasing in both the private and public sector, according to a report by the Ponemon Institute earlier this year. The organizational cost of a data breach in the United States can be up to $6.75 million per incident, said Dell.

A Global Fraud Report issued in October found that electronic and information theft accounted for 27.3 percent of fraud-related losses, with businesses losing almost $1.7 million per billion dollars in sales worldwide.

Since Data Protection/Encryption is currently available for Microsoft Windows systems only, supporting Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, Dell is offering an optional "integration" with Credant to secure and encrypt other platforms such as select smartphones and non-Windows operating systems. The optional Credant offering extends the protection to include Mac OS X, Windows Mobile, Symbian smartphones, Palm OS devices, and iPhones, according to Credant.

IT managers have access to Data Protection/Encryption's centralized management tools to detect endpoint devices within the organization that need encryption and to enforce encryption policies. The reporting tools let managers see that endpoints are protected regardless of user, device, or location. The reports can be used for audit purposes to meet regulatory compliance requirements such as for HIPAA and PCI DSS, said Dell.

The encryption application comes with preset policy templates that let managers define encryption rules for portable USB drives, internal and external drives including eSATA, 1394, and USB, optical drives such as CDs, and Secure Digital cards, said Dell.

There are some restrictions in order to encrypt data on optical storage such as CDs, said Dell. For Windows XP systems, Data Protection/Encryption requires additional software, Nero InCD. Vista systems require Vista Live File System to be activated and Windows 7 need native burning mode support.

Dell Data Protection/Encryption is also available through volume licensing, Dell said. The optional integration with Credant Technologies for non-Windows systems are also available through Dell, according to Konetski.