A sweep of the laptop carrying case brought to the surface a handful of thumb drives, memory sticks, call them what you will, that had been lying around like lost pen caps.

These are the devices many companies use instead of press kits—very little content in a 250MB drive. Or they are simply giveaways, as was the case with one 1GB drive from Microsoft.

All of a sudden, I realized there were several gigabytes of data rolling around the laptop bag with little thought on my part that they might be important. For the most part, they aren’t, unless somebody wants a bunch of old stories or piles of files on my family history.

But they could be important and it’s very easy for companies to have gigabytes of data roaming on these devices without anyone knowing for sure what’s on them or where they are. Or they could hold all your company’s precious information that some disgruntled or unscrupulous person wants to profit from.

These kinds of advances in technology, cheap storage that holds more and more data, wireless technologies that put that same data into the air waves, means that security is becoming a bigger issue than ever.

It’s simply easier to lose more data more quickly than ever before.

Some companies thwart theft by thumb drive by putting honey or gum into the drives, but that hardly seems an appropriate tool. More appropriate is encryption that will render lost and stolen devices unusable.

Certainly, it’s something that must be thought about. The question of who has access to what data becomes more critical as it becomes more difficult to control. After all, who wants their company’s future rolling about in the bottom of a backpack?


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