Has anything like this ever happened to you or someone you know? You get to your destination (or your client’s), and your USB drive has decided not to join you. Now the fun begins. Was it encrypted? Where could you have lost it? It’s not just the information you’ve lost – it’s what can happen if the wrong people get their hands on it. Your boss is not going to appreciate this, and the potential damage could be irreversible! A Ponemon Institute (USA) study shows an alarming percentage of companies actually do not consider the protection of information on a USB drive to be high priority: less than a third of organizations believe they have adequate policies to prevent USB misuse. Statistically, 12,000 customer records are lost, on average, per organization due to missing USB drives. Nearly half of large organizations have lost sensitive or confidential information on USB drives in just the past two years, and losses are climbing at an alarming rate. Throughout Europe, companies are being fined and embarrassed, as scandals stemming from leaked data are all over the radio and television. Look, let’s face it, not everybody who finds a USB drive is a criminal or has criminal intentions, but losing a USB drive is not quite the same as losing your house keys. A lost house key can belong to any one of five million locks – but a lost, unencrypted USB drive can have immediate and devastating consequences. If you found a lost drive, what would you do? What if there was a possibility to make some money if you sold it? After all, technically you wouldn’t have any direct involvement in what happens to the information contained on that drive. So it’s notreally a crime, right? How can we securely protect our information inexpensively and with portability? A small company based in Toronto, Canada thinks they have the answer: biometrics. While the Encriptor One Finger Print scanner (www.encriptorone.com; also on Facebook) will protect your data, the Encriptor One people say that you actually do not have to use your fingerprint. Their square-pad design allows the user to use any part of their finger, or even part of their hand as long as there is a pattern. (Say goodbye to the fingerprint critics.) In today’s connected society, we are bombarded with information about anti-virus software, firewalls, and password tactics to protect our own personal information on our own personal computers, but when we’re not dealing with our own information or our own safety, we tend to forget that just as much care is needed to protect other people’s information entrusted to us. Many computer contractors who are quite aware of security issues sometimes do not extend that awareness to USB flash drives and the information they contain. Are you aware that Identity Theft Protection is a multi-million dollar industry and growing at the speed of light? Its very existence proves that billions of dollars are lost because of wayward information. We need to stop being part of these statistics, and proactively help to bring these stats down. How? The answer is ridiculously simple: by encrypting your flash drive information. Please remember that the data you save may be your own.
Mark Borkowski is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corp. Mercantile is a mid market M&A brokerage firm focusing on the sale of private companies. He can be reached at www.mercantilemergersacquisitions.com