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Why are companies not securing their mobile technology with encryption?

Why are companies not securing their mobile technology with encryption? For example, most companies' laptops are still only password protected. Almost weekly you read about some bank that lost a laptop containing customer data; but I bet a call to that bank's IT manager would reveal there are no plans to encrypt laptops.

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The main reason that I can think of for why most companies do not use disk encryption is that many people forget their passwords. When that happens, they are completely locked out of their laptop. Ask any company help desk what its most common problem is, and they will tell you it is password resets. Now, many good encryption programs for laptops provide what is known as escrowed keys, so that a help desk can get a user that forgot their encryption key going again. The problem is that the process of recovery takes longer and adds even more work to usually overworked help desk staffs. So rather than add to the cost of user support, the companies simply expose all their data. Seems like a foolish risk trade off to me, but you asked why they did it, not whether I thought it was a good idea not to use encryption.
For more info on this topic, please visit these resources:
  • Guest Commentary: Safe computing in public hot spots
  • Fun with Security: Passwords -- Do you speak Geek?

    This was first published in May 2004

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