Lessons Learned

By Marcus Prendergast  |  Posted 2010-02-04 Print this article Print

Encrypting laptops helps Educational Testing Service prevent data breaches and encourage its employees to embrace security.

Lessons Learned

In addition, the solution saves us money on meeting both our current and future encryption needs. Upgrades are easy. We just activate the new features, without the expense and trouble of expanding our management infrastructure. For example, we’re devising a proof-of-concept in the next year to add protection to e-mail sent via employees’ smartphones.

Improved ease of use has been a big plus. The new setup doesn’t require employees and partners to type in their user names. They just key in their pass phrases, making the sign-on process easier and faster. When users, including our general counsel’s office, found out how easy to use and secure the product is, many wondered why we hadn’t implemented it sooner.

Our encryption deployment strategy helps us prevent or mitigate the risks of cyber-attacks and data breaches, while meeting government IT security and compliance mandates. It encourages our employees to adopt new technologies and use them securely without impeding solution deployment or user productivity. Finally, it enables us to implement best practices that lower operating costs, save money and increase competitive advantage to achieve success.

What’s more, our employees and partners are now much more proactive about IT security. Before training, most users concentrated on the value of the machines themselves, not the value of the data those devices house. When people realize they’re carrying $50,000, $500,000 or $5 million worth of data in their briefcase, they are less likely to leave their laptops behind accidentally.

That sense of personal responsibility is one of the biggest lessons ETS has learned. Our employees have taken ownership of their machines and the security processes necessary to protect them. In short, proactive IT security depends on more than simply deploying effective technology. It also requires training and instilling the right knowledge, mindfulness and dedication in a corporate culture. And that’s what ETS has done.

Marcus Prendergast is a senior security engineer at Educational Testing Service (ETS), a nonprofit educational organization based in Princeton, N.J.

Marcus Prendergast is a senior security engineer at Educational Testing Service (ETS), a nonprofit educational organization based in Princeton, N.J.

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