Sunday, 24 June 2012

Protecting and Encrypting Laptop Harddisk and Data

We have discussed a few ideas on how to protect yourself when removing data from your office. Of course we recommend not taking any data outside your secure environment and of course cloud computing ensures data is available everywhere however if you have data that does reside on your laptop then you must protect yourself.

The best way to protect yourself is to at least backup your laptop. Use MozyPro for Business to backup your laptop. This is a great first step.

The second option would be to use a virtual file server such as Egnyte Hybrid File Server. This would allow your data on your laptop to be in sync with the Cloud file server and of course in sync with files in your office or office desktop.

Of course all of this is great and even common sense as if you have lost your laptop or simply had a hard disk failure, then all your data can be recovered. I have had two disk crashes on my laptop this year and never lost any data!

However if you have data on your laptop that others should not see you should encrypt your complete laptop disk along with any USB disk drive you use. There are a few solutions available, for example, the Sophos Data Protection Suite. Another option is to use open source (free software). Sophos provide free file encryption and can be downloaded here. This can be used for creating archives or for emailing files safely. Ths Sophos Data Protection Suite also provides for Cloud based encryption when using the Egnyte Hybrid File Server so even your Cloud data can be protected.

A popular solution is called True Encrypt. True Encrypt is free open-source disk encryption software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux.

I would recommend encrypting the complete laptop's disk. However if you wish to have double protection you can then create volumes on your laptop that are additional containers that can be encrypted. So keeping top secret information in this container will give you another layer of protection. So while you may be legally forced to pass over the login password, you should not have to provide the password for that container. So try and keep one step ahead of our friends that want your data!!  Look after yourself when you are travelling.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Secure Your Location, Identity and Data

How safe are you and your data when on line?  How many countries do you visit that monitor your Internet and VoIP traffic? Singapore? Thailand? Indonesia? Malaysia? China?

If you are staying in a hotel in China how do you know if your company secrets stored on your laptop are not being copied as you communicate with head office? Do you not think hotels are the perfect place to monitor Internet traffic in China?

There may also be many reasons why you may wish to hide your identity when on-line. While I have no reason to be worried about doing anything illegal or wrong, I am always careful when not working from a secure network that I manage or control.

What are the alternatives?

There are a number of options available and of course in China some of these are very important as some people have a lot to hide if they are speaking out against human rights or other anti-government issues. As I said, while this is not my main concern, I am concerned for my clients having trade secrets on their laptops and these being stolen without their knowledge. But saying that, the way Hong Kong is heading, people should be very concerned about the way the government and police are moving to monitor and control how people demonstrate or publish their views. Certainly Hong Kong people's freedom has declined over the past 5 years so people should be concerned and be careful when on-line.

Cloud Computing

Of course Cloud Computing is one solution in combination with VPN's and encrypted tunnels either back to corporate head quarters or simply outside of China, Thailand, Indonesia or even Singapore.

Cloud Computing offers more security simply because there is no data on your laptop. There are Netbooks available which allow you to connect to the Internet where all your data is stored and secure. If your data never leaves the Cloud it remains secure. Of course you do not have access to your data unless on-line. But may be this is the price you need to pay for better security?

Global VPN Service Providers

Using a secure VPN service provider also allows your computer to appear to be located in a different country, e.g. a USA / UK / Australian based IP address can be obtained. You would want to do this when access is blocked to certain web content, e.g. Facebook in China. Another example may be, if you are a US citizen and you wish to access Netflix or Hulu and live in Asia, then simply obtain a VPN connection to a USA server and you will not be blocked from using these services. Of course these services also require a credit card or PayPal account payment and unless these are also US based you generally cannot get connected. I say generally only because someone has worked out if you purchase a Gift Card for these services you may not need a US credit card but do still need a US IP address to access the stream servers.

For just protecting your Internet data traffic when you travel or even from your mobile phone as you move around town, you can use various VPN solutions including SuperVPN.net, StrongVPN.com or Overplay.net.  Overplay also provides something very clever called SmartDNS. For those that wish to watch TV in a different country then this works. It is fast so you can enjoy HD quality. However it does not encrypt your data so is not the answer for safety, VPN does that.

If your mobile phone connects to your corporate network what security do you have in place to ensure it will not infect your systems?

For a secure tunnel that always encrypts your data and provides either a UK, Swiss or US IP address consider Privatetunnel.com and OpenVPN. China have already tried to block this company but there are ways to stop China doing this. Details on their web site.

While there are many provides of VPN services, some take your money and do nothing, just a scam so be careful. Cheap does not mean it works.

VPN and Proxy services are different. A Proxy service provider may provide you an IP address outside of your location country so you can access blocked content however the provider receives all your Internet traffic in readable format and can skim off key data like credit card numbers etc. So avoid using these. Use well known or written about VPN service providers only.