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Computer Security a Major Issue for Government, Business (via Chronicle Herald)

20/02/2011
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Security matters


In light of some high-profile security breaches over the past year, computer security has become a major issue for both government departments and private companies. One of the big issues is file sharing. When numerous people are able to access and modify the content of a file, it becomes easier to violate the document’s integrity. Sensitive information could be removed accidentally or deliberately, says Louise Spiteri, director of the School of Information Management at Dalhousie University.

Remote access is another concern, Security problems can arise when people conduct business via mobile devices and smart phones that use insecure servers to transmit information. “It is possible for someone to hack into the information as it is being transmitted” says Spiteri. “There also is the challenge that mobile devices and phones can be lost very easily”.

Many people use external devices, such as flash drives to share information, but those devices are also easy to lose, and in most cases people are not encrypting the data, Spiteri says. International commerce creates yet further confusion. Information about Canadians that may be protected by privacy laws in Canada often sit on a server in another country, where it is subject to different regulations.

To deal with the various challenges of file sharing, organizations can take steps such as setting a well-documented policy for how records will be used, who has access to those records, who has authority to change the records, and how the records will be stored, transmitted and preserved for long-term use. People must also be held accountable if they do not maintain the security and confidentiality of information, says Spiteri.

She says there is a need for strict control mechanisms, such as requiring confidential files to be encrypted, and preventing the use of mobile devices to transmit documents with sensitive information. “You need to ensure very strict standards with respect to data transmission”, says Spiteri. “You need to do scans of e-mail to make sure it is being used correctly, and you have an e-mail policy for acceptable use.”

Mojo Labs Co. of Halifax has developed a new product that encrypts data to help organizations and individuals share and track documents securely.

The company won the Best Big Idea competition, which the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council started last year. The competition included 118 entries. ¬®Users of the TitanFile system can select the individuals and groups with whom they want to share documents, and track who accessed the documents, and when and where. Each shared document is uploaded to the server over a secure connection. “The file is encrypted on our server so that even we cannot see the content of the file” says company president Milan Vrekic.

Diane Merlevede
Special Features Writer
Chronicle Herald

Correction by TitanFile: TitanFile is incorporated as entity independent of Mojo Labs Co. TitanFile Inc. is owned and operated by Milan Vrekic and Tony-Abou Assaleh (co-founders).
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