How to Use Data Encryption to Secure Mobile Business Data

A staggering number of enterprise mobile devices are lost or stolen annually, at a high cost to the organizations that own them. But there are solutions available to help secure the data left on the devices. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Kurt Lennartsson explains why it is imperative that organizations secure this data, and explains how to use encryption software to protect data that is in transit on these mobile devices.


Over the past two decades, private, public and governmental organizations have built walls to contain their businesses. More specifically, firewalls. These firewalls were built as safeguards to establish secure perimeters within which enterprise computing, communication devices and data are safe from attack from outsiders. However, the emergence of business mobility and the explosion in the number of mobile devices-laptops, smartphones, PDAs and thumb drives-within the marketplace have rendered firewalls alone somewhat obsolete when it comes to protecting an organization's sensitive data from theft, loss or hackers.

Currently, there are 25 million Blackberry users in the United States alone, with that number expected to expand by 25 percent over the coming year as more people abandon their typical cell phones for smartphones that allow them access to more data. Laptop, PDA and thumb drive sales are also predicted to rise. It's all part of an expanding mobile work force, which allows business to be done outside the typical four walls and the 9 to 5 workday schedule.

It's a numbers game

A recent survey estimates that 800,000 mobile devices are stolen each year and 97 percent are never recovered. A further breakdown of this number is even more eye-opening: business travelers lose more than 12,000 laptops per week in airports in the United States. On a weekly basis, major corporations suffer losses of 640 laptops, 1,985 USB memory sticks, 1,075 smartphones and 1,324 other devices from theft. Protecting an organization's data on those devices becomes more mission-critical and business imperative than ever.

Dollars and sense

Each time a mobile device is lost or stolen, the opportunity for a data breach of sensitive information increases. Since 2005, more than 245 million records containing sensitive personal information have been involved in security data breaches in the United States alone. The average cost of a data breach to organizations in the United States in 2008 rose to $202 per compromised customer record, up from $197 the year prior. According to recent estimates, data breaches cost companies in the United States an aggregate $18 billion annually. The opportunity to conduct business anywhere, anytime, clearly comes at a price.