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GuardianEdge Goes Portable

Security startup dives into removable media with drive encryption software

As users become increasingly paranoid about the risks posed by removable media, security vendor GuardianEdge has overhauled its product line to lock down portable data. (See GuardianEdge Adds Protection.)

GuardianEdge, which makes hard disk encryption software for laptops and PCs, today unveiled software for encrypting data on removable devices such as flash memory and USB drives. The vendor also announced a deal to integrate its software with Seagate's Momentus 5400 FDE.2 notebook drive. (See Seagate, GuardianEdge Team, Security Smorgasbord on Show, and Secude, Seagate Demo at SNW.)

The vulnerability of data on removable devices was cited as a major pain point by users at last week's Data Protection Summit in Irvine, Calif. Following a series of high profile storage snafus at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Los Alamos National Lab, CIOs and IT managers are re-focusing their efforts on portable data. (See Encryption's Hard Truths.)

At this point, relatively few USB drive vendors -- SanDisk, Lexar, and Kingston Technologies -- have added encryption to their products, forcing users to deploy third-party software to secure data on the devices. (See Users Go for Data Lockdown.)

Guardian Edge's Data Protection Platform, which was unveiled today, is a software bundle which includes the vendor's existing laptop encryption software along with a similar offering for removable media. This automates file encryption for data transferred between desktop and laptop PCs and portable drives and iPods. The vendor has also added a feature called DeviceControl, which lets IT managers set access controls for laptop ports and devices.

At least one user told Byte and Switch that he will be checking out the Data Protection Platform. "It's something that we will definitely be looking into, especially with the USB drives," says Oliver Rebollido, network manager for Mountain View, Calif.-based legal services firm Fenwick and West.

The exec admits that he is nervous about the prospect of corporate espionage, particularly at conferences. "You always hear of people in suits with their USB drives set to copy data from machines. My nightmare is hitting the front page for a security breach," he says.

GuardianEdge is not the only vendor targeting mobile data security; firms such as Credant and Utimaco have already made moves in this space. (See Laptop Encryption the Service Way and Gemalto, Utimaco Team.) At this week's CeBIT show in Germany, for example, Utimaco unveiled its SafeGuard Enterprise 5.0 software, which also secures laptops, desktops, and removable devices. (See Utimaco to Launch New Security.)

Utimaco has not yet released pricing for SafeGuard Enterprise 5.0, which will be available later this month. GuardianEdge's Data Protection Platform, which will be available in the second quarter, starts at $150 per user.

Clearly, there is growing interest in the removable data space. Last year security vendor Check Point spent $586 million to acquire Swedish mobile security specialist PointSec. (See Check Point Spends on Protection and Check Point Buys Protect Data.)

The theft of the Department of Veterans' Affairs laptop last summer also sent shockwaves through Capitol Hill and prompted many firms to rethink their own security strategies. (See On the Brink of Storage Disaster, Portable Problems Prompt IT Spending, and Breaches Stress Need to Improve.) "Encryption is the only safe harbour from this type of disclosure," says Ram Krishnan, senior vice president of marketing at GuardianEdge, which picked up the department as a customer in the aftermath of the laptop theft. (See VA Picks GuardianEdge.)

It still remains to be seen whether this message is getting through to other users. Last year, for example, Dark Reading, revealed that users have no clearly stated policy for the use of portable storage devices.

— James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP)
  • Credant Technologies
  • GuardianEdge Technologies Inc.
  • Kingston Technology Co. Inc.
  • Lexar Media Inc.
  • Pointsec Mobile Technologies
  • SanDisk Corp. (Nasdaq: SNDK)
  • Seagate Technology Inc. (NYSE: STX)
  • Utimaco Safeware AG
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