Investcorp ups security

Steve Ritchie, MD for global technology at Investcorp talks about its latest security project.

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By  Published  November 30, 2006

The protection of information is a paramount issue for Steve Ritchie, the managing director for global technology at Investcorp, whose major IT security concern is safeguarding private client data that leaves his organisation’s physical perimeter.

Currently the most efficient way to manage this kind of security risk is through the implementation of data encryption and last month saw Investcorp invest in Pointsec’s Endpoint Encryption solution across 200 company laptops. Pointsec’s software provides a centrally managed solution, which ensures that all or selected parts of a hard drive’s data can be encrypted in real time and can only be accessed by an authenticated user. Full disk encryption protects the operating system and system files, ensuring that all security vulnerabilities are closed.

“I can lock the firewalls, the security team can lock down the perimeter of the building, I can take away access to USB devices, but if I am giving people access from home or giving people laptops to carry around, which are essential to business, then that is a huge risk. People are carrying so much data on these devices. Plus the fact that these are modular devices; so if you are sitting in your hotel room working on your laptop and go to eat your breakfast, I could be in your room, leave your laptop where it is, and just take the hard-disk out and I have everything that you have. So that kind of threat is real and I think people are starting to worry about that from the board level down,” Ritchie says.

While encryption software may not stop employees from losing critical information stored on their devices through carelessness, it does prevent data theft, which, according to Pointsec’s Professional Services Director Mohammad Ishmael, is a growing threat in the Middle East.

“Many companies in the GCC are taking the issue of data theft seriously and are increasing their budget to prevent it,” he says. “They are also realising, with the introduction of competition, for example in the telecommunications market today, that data theft will likely increase. Any users, they don’t have to be particularly computer savvy, can just insert an MP3 player or similar device to steal and access company information for external parties.”

Given Investcorp’s position as one of the world’s leading providers of alternative investment products, data theft is one of, if not the most, serious threats out there. The company has offices located in Bahrain, London and New York, and a client base primarily in the Arabian Gulf, this international presence means employees frequently travel with valuable client data stored on mobile devices. “Privacy is critically important and is central to our business. Not only would our relationship with our clients be damaged if we had a breach, but the integrity of our brand would also be affected, and we could face heavy penalties from our regulators” says Ritchie.

“Pointsec out-performed the competition in terms of functionality and ease of management” he went on to say. “It is the only endpoint encryption solution that has earned the BITS Tested Mark, an important certification that demonstrates that Pointsec meets the particular needs of the financial services industry.”

If I am giving people access from home or giving people laptops to carry around, then that is a huge risk.

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