Protect Information in Laptops

Very frequently, we hear news of stolen laptops that contains sensitive information which could potentially be anything from Personal Identifiable Information (PII) to corporate intellectual information.  The latest being the news in Canada that a consultant for the Provincial Public Health Laboratory lost a laptop that includes names, Medical Care Plan numbers, age, sex, physician and test results for infectious diseases, including HIV and hepatitis.

So how do we protect ourselves? Well, there is no hard and fast solution. However, we can be proactive.

First and the foremost, we need to be aware of the information that we carry along with us. If there is any information that is potentially sensitive, then it needs to be encrypted. There are various solutions in the market. Vendors such as RSA Security, Entrust, Pointsec and PGP are some of the major players in this arena.

Some solutions do not force the user to encrypt a data and is at the discretion of the laptop user. However others force you to do so. The latter ones are better if you know most of the information you carry are not for the public.

In any case, it would be good, if you do not advertise to the world that you are carrying a laptop. Remember those executive bags that we carry around, that tell the whole world that you have a laptop. Moreover, carry a laptop lock wherever you go. Some prefer the keyed ones, others the number locks. Either is fine as long as it prevents your laptop to be snatched away.

When you travel on business, try not to advertise the world that you belong to well known corporations. Remember those in-flight conversations that you have with your colleagues? That would help someone to follow you after the flight!

Google to follow PIPEDA

Google announced today that it will follow the Canadian Privacy Law (PIPEDA) when it comes to Street View imaging. Canada’s privacy commissioner is happy and thinks Google and Calgary based Immersive Media is heading in the right direction. The commissioner is yet to hear the formal announcement from the both the companies.

Google plans to blur or lower the resolution of the images of individuals captured. This will prevent identifying an individual through Google Street Wise.

I wonder what happens to the images that are already captured by Immersive Media. Would they be erased or archived? Is there any assurance that those images will not available at all to anyone any more?

Google Maps Streetview

Google is again on the news for privacy reasons. The Canadian Privacy Commissioner has raised concerns regarding the privacy of individuals captured in each and every photographs of streetwise. The resolution of the pictures is high enough to identify the individuals in the pictures.

It’s a good feature providing better navigational help for folks who are strangers to a city. However, how about certain considerations on the privacy of the individuals as well as physical security of the locations captured in the photographs?

Whenever, Immersive Media is on the road to capture these pictures, I am not aware that I will be included in their captures. I may be coming out of movie theatre, a pharmacy or even a location that is deemed to be confidential only to my employer. This capture can be used against me in a court just because I was included in the capture.

Consider the photos that are freely available with certain buildings that host critical business solutions. Isn’t it easy to plan an attack on these building with a mere search on Google Maps? Streetview is available for well known cities and that’s where most of the top fortune companies are located. Some of them host their critical business functions or their data centers in these buildings.

Of course, Google offer the opportunity to take these pictures off. However, wouldn’t it be late by then?