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Desktops Dive Into USBs

5:45 PM -- There's been plenty of talk about USB drives lately; namely, about the security risk these weapons of mass distribution pose to businesses. (See Users Go for Data Lockdown, Storm Clouds Over Los Alamos, Biggest Threats, Thumbs Down on Thumb Drives, and Lexar Locks Down USB Storage.)

But at a time when most CIOs are looking to limit the amount of information that goes onto USB drives, virtualization vendor Kidaro is going in the opposite direction. (See Kidaro Unveils USB Desktop.) Today the software vendor unveiled plans to load entire desktops onto USB drives, touting the technology as a way for road warriors and remote workers to get access to corporate resources. (See Kidaro Secures $10 Million and Insider Eyes Virtual Desktops.)

End-users plug the USB drive into their workstations and are asked for a password, which is then checked against their firm's Active Directory. If this is correct, the USB loads a set of applications onto the PC or workstation via VPN. This could be, for example, Microsoft Outlook, CRM, or even back-end financial databases.

My initial reaction to this technology was one of concern. Should we really be making these thumb-drives more powerful? Kidaro, unsurprisingly, is at pains to explain that data on its "to go" solution is totally locked down. "The data is encrypted -- it can't be taken out of the USB to anywhere else," says Ran Oelgiesser, the vendor's vice president of product marketing.

Scary though USB drives are, solutions like this at least reduce firms' reliance on laptops, which as any Department of Veterans' Affairs official will tell you, can also be a security nightmare. (See VA Reports Massive Data Theft, Laptop Venn & Zen, Laptop Encryption the Service Way, and Portable Problems Prompt IT Spending.)

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