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Users: Encryption No Silver Bullet

NEW YORK - Encrypting data as it travels across corporate networks could be a distraction from the real security challenges facing organizations, warned IT managers at a security event here today.

Speaking on a user panel on enterprise data protection this afternoon, Warren Axelrod, business information security officer at financial services firm U.S. Trust explained that, in many cases, encryption could be overkill.

"Why would anyone attempt to attack an encrypted file when all they have to do is send out a phishing email or attach a keylogger and get the information that way?" he said. "You have got to worry about the endpoints -- criminals are going to go for the low-hanging fruit."

These sentiments were echoed by fellow panelist and Security Constructs analyst Tom Bowers, a former information security officer in the pharmaceutical industry. "Encryption can solve a lot of problems, but it's not the be-all and end-all," he said, using the example of an unscrupulous employee using a digital camera to take an image of an encrypted file.

U.S. Trust's Axelrod would not reveal what forms of endpoint security he uses within his organization, although he explained his back-end storage philosophy. "I believe in data restriction," he said, explaining that his primary requirement "is to get rid of it as soon as it becomes obsolete."

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