IronKey

Mobile Data Security Blog


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Travel Light and Secure

 

Hi, I’m Peter. I’m a Senior IT guy working for a big, growing enterprise.  I set the strategy and I’m responsible for the execution of IT infrastructure in my organization.   I need to worry about cost, security, and keeping my customers happy. We have pretty solid IT processes leveraging Microsoft tools, so I’m not about to set my IT team on some wild new solution that requires years to integrate. Recently, after a big meeting with the execs on cutting costs, I came across Windows to Go from Microsoft. Here is a solution that is secure, can save tons of money, make my customers happy, and fits into my IT workflow – Freakin’ SWEET!  My CISO stood up and applauded when I presented this to senior MGMT.  Needless to say I’ve become a big fan. In fact, they call me Windows To Go Guy around here. There are so many ways to apply this technology across my organization. I don’t get a commission on this stuff – I just love cool technology that makes sense. Here’s my blog entry:

Disclaimer: This blog is based on real Windows To Go ® use cases.  The character is fictitious to protect the names of our customers.  Any resemblance to actual customers is coincidental and not intentional.

I’m a Windows to Go guy. I carry my workspace around with me in my pocket, wherever I go. I don’t have to worry about hiding a laptop under the car seat. I don’t have to worry about it sliding off the seat during a sudden stop and I don’t need to try fit it under my coat during a sudden downpour.
One evening after work I had promised to stop at the local store to pick up some groceries. In line ahead of me were some military personnel dressed in camo. I noticed one person was carrying her laptop.
“Hey folks, I really appreciate what you guys do for our Country, but tell me, what’s with the laptop in the grocery store-are you expecting an email from the president?” I joked.

The corporal replied, “Military rules- laptops can’t leave our side. We even take them into the bathroom”.

“That stinks,” I replied.  “Let me show you something,” I replied. I whipped out my IronKey Workspace W500™, my PC on a Stick™ and explained that this was my laptop, FIPS secured against the worst imaginable attacker. It is virtually indestructible too, and I intentionally dropped it onto the hard tile floor to make my point.

“I have got to get my hands on one of those” she said.

“You are right about that, we can make your next bathroom or grocery stop a much more pleasant experience.” I replied.

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Day One IT Integration for Mergers Using Windows To Go

 

A good friend of mine heads up IT for a successful Silicon Valley networking company. I met him for a beer recently and he looked as down as I’d seen him when his company was dealing with the Heartbleed issue. His company had just gone through a painful acquisition of a global high tech company and he was responsible for ensuring a smooth day one transition. As you know on the day of the acquisition, all the new employees need to have email access, intranet access, connections to corporate servers, VPN access, corporate wireless etc. They also need to continue accessing their existing services to make sure there is no disruption of the business. It can be an IT project management nightmare and my friend had miraculously pulled it off without a hitch.

“Why so blue, Superman?” I asked. “I hear you are the hero of IT!”

“Yeah, but guess what? We just announced another acquisition with 1000 employees, and this one closes in 6 weeks!” he replied. “Never fear, my friend. Let me buy you another beer and introduce you to my workspace in a pocket, PC on a stick,” I said with confidence.

I proceeded to lay out the following plan. Suppose you configure 1000 Windows To Go devices that provide all the applications, access tools and rules, and even personalized documents welcoming each new employee. Then on day one you welcome everyone to the new company and hand them their Windows to Go devices. They plug these into their existing work computers and, voila, they are fully operational on their new corporate systems. But they still need to access their old systems to do their day job. So, you unplug your PC on a Stick™  device to access your old system and plug it back in to access the new. Now, IT can do a step-wise conversion of groups and departments over the next weeks and months starting with the highest priority groups.

“I’m buying the beers…” he replied as a grin came to his brightened face. “This hero stuff is getting easier all the time!”

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Standing Room Only: BadUSB at Black Hat

 

Our special guest blogger is Chris Louie, an IronKey sales engineer, who joined the company in 2011. 

As I took my seat in the packed Black Hat ballroom, I could sense the level of concern as everyone anxiously awaited the findings on BadUSB. Attacks against USB flash drives are nothing new, but they’ve always centered on the data being compromised or leaked.  Now we’re about to learn about a radically different type of attack. Suddenly the lights dim and the session title flashes across the screen: “BadUSB – On accessories that turn evil” presented by the authors of the malware.

Immediately, things looked bleak for security-minded professionals everywhere. A new type of threat has emerged! Malware is no longer relegated to only files stored on USB flash drives, but can now reside in the controller firmware inside the USB flash drive. And to make matters worse, it doesn’t just affect USB flash drives, but any USB device that has the ability to update its firmware, such as Android-based phones and tablets. BadUSB also has the ability to trick the computer into thinking a flash drive is a mouse or keyboard. Once a computer is infected, it will attempt to infect every USB device that connects to it in the future.

Now if that’s not enough to keep CIOs and CISOs awake at night, the malware authors state that there is currently no mechanism to detect or remove BadUSB from affected devices and computers. It acts as a launch pad to attack computers with the malware author’s attack of choice. Installation of Remote Access Trojans, key loggers, DNS cache poisoning, botnet creation and ransomeware are just a few of the cyber-criminal tools that can be deployed with the help of BadUSB.

Fortunately, not all is lost! BadUSB takes advantage of a commonly found practice in the flash drive industry: the vast majority of USB devices do not require digitally signed code in order to do a firmware update. Since day one, every IronKey device has followed the best practice of requiring digitally signed code for firmware updates to protect against this exact type of attack vector.

During the Q&A session with the malware authors, someone asked if requiring digitally signed code for firmware updates would protect a USB device from this attack.  The audience were assured that those devices are not vulnerable to this attack.

So get rid of that potentially dangerous flash drive and upgrade to a secure flash drive that cannot get infected with BadUSB.

 

 

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Perspective on BadUSB

 

We recently learned that security researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell of Security Research Labs plan to present their research at Black Hat next week which consists of proof-of-concept malicious software called BadUSB. The premise of the BadUSB attack appears to be that you can change the firmware of the USB device. A fundamental feature of IronKey high security products is that changing the customized firmware is not possible. IronKey devices have digitally signed firmware with verification on start-up. If the firmware is tampered with, the device won’t function. This countermeasure has been validated by NIST in IronKey FIPS 140-2 Level 3 devices

Once the research is released we will carefully review to ensure there are no potential risks. We will then issue a statement. In the meantime if you have any questions please email securitysales@imation.com.

 

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New IronKey Channel Program Debuts at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference

 

Interested in capitalizing on the emerging opportunities available with Windows To Go?   The IronKey Partner Program unveiled at this week’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington DC.  Designed to make our partners successful, the new program, consisting of Platinum, Gold and Silver levels, enables security resellers and Microsoft Certified Partners to more easily and profitably sell the family of IronKey Workspace PC on a Stick™ products for Windows To Go.   If you’re at the show, stop by our booth #621 to learn more.

Our new IronKey Channel Program elements include:

* A deal registration program offering generous margins and recurring revenue from license and maintenance renewals.

* Training via a variety of formats including new online courses.

* An enhanced partner portal for lead tracking, sales and marketing support programs and technical resources.

We’re hearing great things from our partners about the reception to Windows To Go as organizations look to meet the needs of an evolving mobile workforce.   But don’t take my word for it; here’s what our partners had to say:

Ed McNamara, Director of Communications and Marketing at SHI International Corp

“The BYOD trend has been a closely watched topic as the demands of a more mobile workforce clash with IT’s need to keep corporate data and the network secure. We’re looking forward to providing customized Windows To Go solutions for trusted IT-managed workstations.”

Ted Murphy, President of Matrix Mobile Security Solutions

“The healthcare industry is notoriously slow in adopting new technologies because of stringent regulations and compliance requirements for protecting patient health information (PHI). Together, Windows To Go and IronKey’s secure PC on a Stick are a breakthrough in supporting a more mobile healthcare workforce while ensuring security.”

Larry Hall, Vice President of Purchasing and Partner Development at Paragon Micro

“New mandates are requiring a certain percentage of federal employees to be teleworkers. Federal agencies are struggling to meet these mandates due to security concerns that unauthorized devices could access government networks. Based on the early success we’ve had with a large federal agency, we see great value in being an Imation partner selling the IronKey secure mobile workplace solution.”

Click here to learn more about the partner program.

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Will the World Cup Result in a Red Card for your Business?

 

With the ‘Hacktivist’ group Anonymous having announced they were preparing a full scale cyber-attack on the World Cup’s corporate sponsors during the tournament, and an influx in World Cup related malware, security threats are likely to be the topic of choice for all those looking to protect against potential breaches and attacks during the tournament.

IT managers will have been steeling themselves for a potential spike in lost corporate devices, such as USB’s, tablets and mobile devices, during the World Cup. Whether it be a flight to Brazil, a booze fuelled train journey home, or live streaming a match from your laptop, the potential for a security breach, and the resulting consequences, could be more excruciating than a bite from Luis Suarez!

Whilst the tournament might be coming to a close, the risks associated with remote workers and mobile devices are still an inherent danger to corporate data. Many of us undertake work while commuting, with little regard for the security of the information we are working on, so whether you are lucky enough to have flown out to watch a match, or simply travelling home after watching the game in the pub, the need to secure your devices is never more crucial.

With shrinking boundaries between work devices and work-enabled personal devices, the risk of corporate data falling into the wrong hands is a huge possibility. Employees dropping memory sticks, leaving files on trains, and laptops in bars, are all high probabilities, and inevitably, these devices will contain data not meant for prying eyes.

Failing to protect the vast volumes of information they carry and not equipping employees with the IT tools required to securely manage and handle information while travelling could result in a ‘red card’ for your business.

No computer or tablet not ‘locked down’ by IT should ever be connected to the corporate network, either from inside (fixed line or BYOD) or outside (VPN of VDI). Allocating employees a corporate computer for use inside the network and an IT secured USB device for outside would simplify security and avoid frustrations typically related with tight security policies such as these.

Whether your data is in transit or at rest, encryption is absolutely essential to safeguarding confidential company information. Whether you use strong authentication or hardware encryption will very much depend on your organisation, you need to be able to manage encrypted devices in order to ensure that if there are any concerns that data integrity has been compromised it is possible to remotely wipe the device.

Accidents will happen, but being vigilant in your security practices, and, educating and enabling your employees could be as easy as knocking England out of the Cup altogether.
redcard

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IronKey Workspace W700 Drives with FIPS 140-2 L3 Set New Standard in Mobile Workspaces

 

Great news for government and other highly-regulated enterprises that require a FIPS 140-2 Level 3 Windows To Go drive— IronKey Workspace W700 ™ drives are now available!   Our W700 PC on a Stick™ drives are the first Microsoft-certified Windows To Go devices to be FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validated. Now you can enjoy all the benefits of Windows To Go while meeting strict data security mandates.

Why is this Significant for Government Agencies?

If your agency is looking to provide mobile workspaces for your contractors, field workers, employees who want to BYOD or telework, this solution is a “no brainer”.  The Windows To Go approach is up to 90 percent more cost effective and more secure than issuing a new laptop or using VDI.  Visit our use case section to learn how agencies are using Windows To Go today (link to Use Case section).

What is Windows To Go?

Windows to Go is an enterprise feature of Windows 8.1 that lets people be productive from almost any location they choose to work by inserting the Windows To Go USB drive into any compatible PC of their choice. An organization’s corporate image, operating system, applications and data are all contained on the Microsoft-certified IronKey Workspace USB drive. The host PC boots completely off the Windows To Go drive using local resources such as monitors, CPUs and network connections.  The Windows To Go drive can be centrally managed and offers remote wipe features to protect against loss and theft. The Windows To Go solution is ideal for mobile workers, teleworkers and contractors, fueling secure “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) strategies that allow employees to use their home PCs for work.

IronKey Workspace W700

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Securely Working from Home – Freakin’ SWEET!

 

Hi, I’m Peter. I’m a Senior IT guy working for a big, growing enterprise.  I set the strategy and I’m responsible for the execution of IT infrastructure in my organization.   I need to worry about cost, security, and keeping my customers happy. We have pretty solid IT processes leveraging Microsoft tools, so I’m not about to set my IT team on some wild new solution that requires years to integrate. Recently, after a big meeting with the execs on cutting costs, I came across Windows to Go from Microsoft. Here is a solution that is secure, can save tons of money, make my customers happy, and fits into my IT workflow – Freakin’ SWEET!  My CISO stood up and applauded when I presented this to senior MGMT.  Needless to say I’ve become a big fan. In fact, they call me Windows To Go Guy around here. There are so many ways to apply this technology across my organization. I don’t get a commission on this stuff – I just love cool technology that makes sense. Here’s my blog entry:

Disclaimer: This blog is based on real Windows To Go ® use cases.  The character is fictitious to protect the names of our customers.  Any resemblance to actual customers is coincidental and not intentional.

Perhaps I’m a bit of a workaholic, but I don’t think I’m alone. After the kids go to bed, I read email, work on reports, look at presentations, and study excel spreadsheets. I’ve tried webmail  and VPN access to file shares from my home computer, but it is just not the same as having your own workspace at home with you. For the past 20 years, I’ve had to lug my laptop between work and home. But laptop screens are tiny when you are looking at a 50-column spreadsheet or comparing two documents side by side.  My home computer on the other hand, has a 27” monitor, surround sound, and fast direct Ethernet connect. In addition, we just bought a new Mac – sweet! I’ve wanted to use my home set-up for work and I’ve waited patiently, for 20 years to solve this problem.

Enter Microsoft Windows to Go. Six months ago, I loaded my entire workspace onto a tiny IronKey Workspace W500 ™ USB 3.0 flash drive with the works: OS, apps, AV scanners, and data.. With 128Gbyte, there is plenty of space. When I’m at work, I plug this device into my work computer and run my workspace from the drive. Because it is flash, it runs much faster than my spinning hard drive in the host computer. When it is time to leave the office, I simply unplug the USB drive, stick it in my pocket, and head for home for dinner with the kids.

Later in the evening, I retire to my man-cave, slide the IronKey Workspace W500 flash drive into my mega machine, and my workspace magically appears before me. I settle back into my deep cushion chair, turn down the lights, fire up some hard rock, and slip back into my working world in the comfort of my home. Now that’s productive work at home!

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Security Policies – The Importance of Getting It Right

 

Last month I was chatting with a journalist and he asked me what my top three security tips for an organisation would be. I started answering his question by saying that companies had to look beyond ‘good enough’ security, consider whether passwords in their current format were really secure, and just as I was about to deliver my third tip, I realised that these were all superseded by the need for a comprehensive security policy, which if approached correctly would address these points.

By comprehensive I don’t mean that companies need to create an enormous document with sub sections of sub sections. What I do mean is that any security policy needs to take into account new developments, disruptive technologies and the ongoing evolving, sophisticated nature of cyber attacks. A security policy cannot be a static document and yet all too often it is. Security is a constantly changing market and, as such, companies cannot afford to be complacent/fall behind.

Not sure? Well just think about the IT environment just five years ago. How we work, the devices we use and where we store content has all changed. Previously companies could be confident that sensitive data was stored only on PCs, but now that information sits on smartphones, laptops, tablets and cloud. The associated security risk is wide ranging. That’s why your security policy needs to be continually evolving – taking changes in working practices, not just the security landscape, into account.

Here are my top five tips for ensuring you create a robust security policy that, rather than gathering dust, provides tangible value to your business:

1. First of all, you need to ensure that you understand your business’s operating environment so that the policy effectively mitigates the threats and risks you face, as well as looking after the assets that you’re seeking to protect. Could lives be lost or just corporate data? Are you subject to the risk of corporate espionage and insider threats on top of cyber attacks? This might seem like an obvious point, but is often overlooked by companies. There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to formulating a security policy – it should be as unique as your business.

2. It’s unlikely that without the aid of metal detectors and full body searches you’ll be able to completely ban or prevent the use of portable storage devices within your organisation. Especially as more and more employees work from increasingly disparate and varying locations. Therefore, a key element of any security policy should seek to protect the data on those devices and state that only password protected USB devices should ever be used to store corporate data.

3. No computer or tablet that’s not ‘locked down’ by IT should ever be connected to the corporate network – either from inside (fixed line or wireless) or outside (VPN or VDI). Equally though, your security policy needs to actually enable your business. So, in order to ensure you can accomplish this without causing a lot of user frustration, consider allocating employees with a corporate computer for use inside the network and an IT secured USB device for outside.

4. Encrypt your data. Whether your data is in transit or at rest, encryption is absolutely critical to safeguarding confidential company information. Whether you use strong authentication or hardware encryption will very much depend on your organisation, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that encryption is a silver bullet. You need to be able to manage encrypted devices in order to ensure that if there are any concerns that data integrity has been compromised, it is possible to remotely wipe the device.

5. Human error is a huge potential vulnerability when it comes to security and your policy should seek to mitigate the risks associated with human nature. Passwords in their current format are inherently insecure, so don’t rely on them alone. Use multi-factor authentication such a voice, retina or biometrics – something unique to the individual. This might all sound a bit ‘Minority Report’ now, but in five years’ time, such implementations will be commonplace.

Does your organization have a comprehensive security policy in place?

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When It Comes to the Cloud, What do Small Businesses Need to Think About?

 

The move towards hosting applications in the cloud shows no signs of petering out. More and more companies are keen to realise the operational benefits that a cloud-
based model has to offer; not to mention the possibility to reduce some CAPEX spend. While many emerging technologies can feel like they are exclusively for the ‘big
boys,’ the great thing about the cloud is that whether you are one person or several thousand, there is a platform out there to help you meet your requirements.

The one downside to being a small business however is that often you don’t have the in-house IT knowledge to understand what, if any, security issues you could be
opening up your business to by opting to store data in the cloud. Here are my top tips to helping you make the most of the cloud, while remaining secure:

* Most small businesses aren’t all that concerned about cloud security and are keen to tap into the benefits that the cloud has to offer. However, as a note of caution, think
carefully about your cloud strategy. While providers might proclaim their offering to be “secure enough”, SMBs shouldn’t accept this assertion at face value – especially if
you intend to store customer data in the cloud as there are strict laws that govern how data is stored, managed and protected.

* Many SMBs can be confused about the best way forward, but take a look at larger companies operating in your sector, what lessons can you learn from them? Are they
using public or private clouds to give employees access to shared data? In the context of your organisation what are the pros and cons of each?

* While it can be tempting to think that your cloud provider ‘has everything covered’ it pays to know what is happening ‘under the hood’ of your cloud security offering. For
example, if the cloud service is responsible for the encryption of data, there is a risk that your keys can be compromised either internally by an employee or by a hacker
who is able to breach the management system and retrieve the keys. To be as secure as possible SMBs, and not their provider, should own and control the encryption
keys.

* For the director of a SMB all this talk of encryption and keys might sound a bit daunting, but the key piece of advice here to mitigate the risk of cloud services is to ensure
that if you are storing data in the cloud that you encrypt the data before it reaches the cloud and apply an enhanced level of key management to avoid it being
compromised. And ensure that the data and the encryption keys aren’t stored together!

SMBs need to think carefully about their security strategy, how it can enable their business and if software encryption is right for them. “Good enough” security in today’s
rapidly evolving cyber security landscape will not protect your organisation – or your customers – from persistent and sophisticated attackers. Hopefully the above pointers
are a good starting point for ensuring that, when it comes to the cloud, you’ve got the right security measures in place.