Data security becomes more affordable

Last updated on May 12th, 2022 at 01:54 am

Security for data – whether it be e-mail archives, projects under development or even access to an employee workstation – is becoming increasingly important for businesses. Data that has been stolen, whether from hacking into a network or from a laptop taken from an employee’s car, has been sold to competitors, even posted on Ebay.


Practices that have been used by large corporations to protect their data and systems have started to trickle into the small and medium-sized business marketplace, said John Steindorf, president of Capital Data Inc., a Milwaukee IT solutions provider.


Several security solutions have recently decreased in price, Steindorf said, and show promise of being adopted by smaller companies in 2008. You may look for data management solutions like the ones offered at to help you secure your business data.


“Enterprise accounts have understood a lot of the reasons why to do a lot of security, and the small to medium-sized businesses are starting to figure it out,” he said. “The issue with a lot of tech solutions is that it’s hard to put a firm ROI (return on investment) on it. You have to look at what it would cost if you were shut down, had a lawsuit or you lose data to a competitor. It’s a soft ROI.”


Authentication systems that limit which employees can access specific files on a server or even a specific computer, have become increasingly popular, Steindorf said.


The next level


Many small and medium sized businesses currently require user names and passwords, which offer a certain level of protection. But pairing a user name and password with an authentication tag gives data a higher level of protection, Steindorf said.


Authentication tags or devices can be attached to a key chain or identification tag, he said. Specific programs or files can require the tag or device to be present, and will not allow access if the tag isn’t there.


The tags can be wireless or plug into a computer’s USB port. They offer a third layer of protection, aside from user names and passwords, Steindorf said.


“A lot (of companies) are looking at not just protection data that’s out there, but who is able to access a file and how they can make sure they are who they say they are,” he said. “You can make (the tag) specific to a machine, so if it’s lost or stolen, it will not be recognized any more.”


The tags, which have been on the market for several years, were $50 to $75 per person when they were introduced. Because the technology has been on the market for several years, prices have decreased to between $5 and $20 per user.


“It’s now at the price point where why wouldn’t you do this?” Steindorf said. “This is something that because of its price point is trickling down to the small and middle markets.”


Many small to medium-sized businesses need to use encryption on sensitive data – particularly on laptops or portable data drives that could be easily stolen, Steindorf said.


“If a laptop is lost or stolen, and you don’t have the data encrypted, people could end up selling it on Ebay,” he said. “It happens all the time, where information is compromised. And the more things you can do to ensure your information is not compromised (the better).”


Steindorf believes a key improvement to encryption technology could come this year. Several software developers are working to create true on-the-fly encryption, Steindorf said.


“If you go through the other steps, there is still the potential for (data) being unprotected no matter how many steps you’ve taken,” Steindorf said. “This will be an important next few years, and it will drive a lot of technology sales. No one has done it yet. There’s a lot to it. People are waiting for it.”


Many of Capital Data’s clients have expressed interest in data de-duplication software and processes, Steindorf said. Between 40 to 60 percent of all data on a computer workstation or server is duplicated on the same machine, and de-duplication can save significant hard drive space and speed up systems.


“We’ve generated a ton of interest around this topic,” he said.


Backup potential


Legal and human resources departments have become more involved in technology-related decisions in recent years, especially when they relate to security or data protection, Steindorf said.


Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and the increasing use of electronic discovery in court cases have led many companies to pay more attention to their e-mail archives, Steindorf said.


“We’re not seeing a lot of people who need to see if they have an (e-mail archive) policy because of the legal discovery and human resource implications,” he said.


Court cases have been decided based on electronic discovery – where archived e-mails or other electronic records revealed evidence, Steindorf said. And if information is shown to have been not properly stored, a company can be held responsible by a court.


Capital Data now designs data backup and e-mail archiving systems for clients. The company will enter the data hosting market later this year or in 2009, Steindorf said, because of increased requests for local hosting. The new offering will also deepen Capital Data’s relationships with some clients.


“A lot of clients don’t want to expend their IT staff and make the capital investment (in data storage),” Steindorf said. “They’d rather leverage off of someone else’s data center. That’s especially true on the small business side of things – the area has a tremendous amount of growth in archiving (data) and managing it.”


The increased interest in security and data backup helped Capital Data increase its sales and number of employees in 2007, Steindorf said. The company has 35 employees now, adding eight of them last year.


Capital Data created a Minneapolis office in 2006, which grew to five employees in 2007. The company’s Chicago office has been growing, as well.


“We hired a new person in Chicago, and we’re looking for two or three here and one more for Minneapolis,” Steindorf said.


Capital Data’s revenues grew by about 25 percent last year, and Steindorf believes the company will have a similar 2008.


“I think our Minneapolis (office) will contribute more,” he said.

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