Removable Media

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An IT Manager's Insight Into Securing Removable Media
by Magnus Ahlberg - Managing Director of Pointsec Mobile Technologies - Tuesday, 9 November 2004.

If you’re like me, the advantages of using a small memory stick, Compact Flash (CF) card, or the digital camera memory card are indeed enticing.

Although tremendously useful, removable media devices, due to their small size, guises and uses, can be a serious security threat to any organization. Here are a few hints and tips on balancing the benefits of these devices against the risks they pose:

Step One – Security Policy - Removable media devices are not toys. Decide how you as a company want to manage them. It would be naïve to think you could simply ban all removable media; however, you should introduce removable media into your Security Policy and make sure that everyone on your staff reads and signs the policy. Also, explain to your staff what actions will be taken if the policy is ignored.

Step Two –
Education - Inform your employees about security and its implications. Explain why certain controls have to be put in place. Don’t just impose those controls or users will ignore them.

Step Three –
Encryption - Consider employing a mobile data protection product. Mandatory media encryption solutions are available that can be centrally controlled by the IT department. The best products are fast and transparent to the user, so as to not interfere with their real-time work. Such protection automatically encrypts all information loaded onto a USB token or other removable media. Access is granted only to the user who holds the password.

Step Four –
Control - Implement device and executable control solutions that enable you to control exactly what devices can be connected to a system and what executable files can and cannot be run.

Step Five –
Audit and Measure - Ensure that you carry out regular audits to find out who is using removable media.

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