UPDATE: Since my original post, David Bilinsky has "responded" and alerted us to that fact that more secure laptops are now in the pipeline and we should expect to be seeing them soon.
How secure is your laptop? David Bilinsky made a blog post that alerted me to his article "Electronic devices – encryption and client confidentiality issues" that was recently published in the Law Society of British Columbia Bencher’s Bulletin. The article is worth your time to read. With more and more information being carried on laptops and other portable electronic devices, we are hearing increasing reports of devices being lost or stolen containing confidential client information. Of course, USB flash drives, PDA’s and mobile phones are even easier than laptops to lose.
David believes that it is time to consider encrypting the entire hard drive of a portable computer rather than just a number of confidential folders or files. The reasoning is that selective encryption does not protect swap files, deleted files, temp files, cookies and other sources of information. In fact no less an authority than the Executive Office of the President has instructed agencies to do this. See long boring gov’t memo here. I just wonder how many lawyer aren’t encrypting any files on their laptops.
One thing that surprises me is that we haven’t seen more "secure" computers advertised for sale. While there are many ways to secure your data, it seems like purchasing your computer with the encryption package or packages already preloaded would be popular.
Recently I was making a purchase at Office Depot and noticed a container full of USB Flash Drives for under $10 each. But I have been telling lawyers that it is probably a better value to spend eight or ten times that amount to buy a secure flash drive like the Ironkey. A device that is marketed based on strong encryption gives me a feeling of security (as did seeing an expert like John Simek pull one out of his pocket a few weeks ago.) There are certainly several options in password protected or encrypted USB drives.
I won’t disagree with David’s analysis. But I will note that if you haven’t made any moves in this area, you can order a secure USB flash drive today and and start using it instead of your laptop to carry around client documents within the next few days.