The importance of Encrypting USB flash drives has once again come to the forefront of conversation following the revelation that a memory stick with important security data relating to Heathrow airport was found and accessed by an individual at his local library. Luckily the person realised what he was looking at and handed the device over to local authorities. Nonetheless, this has led to questions being raised in regards to how businesses share important information at the moment and whether or not many should rethink their current approach to the way they manage and share data.
Using an encrypted USB stick is an important practice for the following reasons:
- To keep sensitive company data secure
- To protect customer information- in line with new data protection measures (GDPR)
- To ensure companies do not suffer loss of earnings, time or customer loyalty
Keeping sensitive data secure
It is important that companies are able to look after the data they own and share it without risk of it falling into the wrong hands. The Heathrow Airport USB contained information relating to the security of the airport itself including locations of security cameras on site as well as details of security protection measures put in place for the Queen, Cabinet ministers and foreign dignitaries visiting London, so not exactly a couple of MS Word documents. The importance of sharing information across functions and departments in organisations has never been greater but this has also led to more opportunities for data to be compromised and go missing. Large multi-national companies spend millions on making sure their internal security is up to scratch, even if companies do not have large budgets to spend on security, encrypted USBs which are password protected at least add that extra layer of security to sensitive information that is shared across the business.
Protecting customer information
Probably more important than looking after company information is looking after your customers. Under the new GDPR guidelines, that come into effect in May 2018 and replace the old data protection laws, organisations must ensure there is adequate protection in place for all customer data and must show evidence that such information is being handled correctly and is not at risk of being misused or compromised in any way. It is often the case that customer information is shared between different parts of a business, as well, this information is often sensitive in nature i.e. personal and financial and therefore extra measures should be put in place to protect this information wherever necessary.
Loss for companies
Using Encrypted USBs can help prevent against damaging consequences for organisations. The financial implications, for one, can be huge if data is mishandled. According to IBM, the average cost of a breach is roughly £2.75 million in 2017. As well, under the new GDPR regulations companies who are in breach of data protection laws could face a hefty fine of 20 million euro or 4% of its annual turnover, whichever is higher, which for many businesses out there is enough to bankrupt them. The question, therefore, needs to be asked as to whether the risk of sharing information without appropriate protection is worth taking.
Even when not taking into consideration the cost implications, the amount of time and resources spent when fixing security errors that have occurred can be just as bad. Also if the data leak has compromised customer data, then a company risks their future brand loyalty, especially in markets where there are numerous competitors offering a similar product or service.
Encrypting a USB
There are numerous third-party software packages available online that will be able to encrypt USBs and add a layer of password protection. For windows users as well, there is the option to use Microsoft’s own built-in encryption software called BitLocker which offers a similar level of security to a device. While these solutions offer basic protection to data on a flash drive, they can still be susceptible to hacking. For businesses who handle sensitive client data on a daily basis, hardware encrypted USBs should be strongly considered. These USBs, in general, are a lot more secure as the encryption isn’t purely software based and therefore cannot be easily hacked, as well they tend to load a lot quicker than software encrypted devices.
At USB2U we offer a range of USB products that are hardware encrypted such as the Kingston DataTraveler Privacy 3.0, Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ G3 and new SafeToGo USB sticks which all offer the latest in data protection.