LONDON, November 22 /PRNewswire/ -- With up to 25 million individual personal records missing on two UK Government CDs in the "Datagate" scandal, the following advice on maximizing personal data security is offered today to companies and individuals by MXI Security, a provider of portable security solutions for the most demanding customers.

Password-protect or encrypt?

Data files on the missing Government CDs were "password protected" - a rudimentary security measure that professional data thieves can overcome in minutes. Password protection means that a file - such as a document, a spreadsheet or a database - cannot be opened using the appropriate office program until a password is provided. However, using software freely available on the internet, even first-time hackers can crack passwords in minutes. Also, most data within password-protected files is stored without a protective layer of security.

Encryption offers exponentially more security - with entry-level encryption software available free to individuals. Encryption scrambles all the data in a file, so even if a cyber criminal is able to view the contents of the file, this will be gibberish until the appropriate decryption algorithm has been provided. AES 256-bit encryption, today's industry standard, offers astronomical number of different combinations, therefore providing effective safeguards against the "brute force" attack method: trying every possible combination in sequence until the right decryption key is found.

Restrict access to encrypted data through biometric authentication

Individuals and companies alike can use biometric authentication to further protect their data, advises MXI Security. Locking down access to data using biometrics - such as a fingerprint - means that a cyber criminal cannot even get their hands on encrypted data files on a lost or stolen storage device. Access control with strong authentication therefore adds another layer of security on top of encryption.

The use of biometrics to verify identity is no longer science fiction. The US and Canadian Governments have already set secure design and implementation criteria for a hardware cryptographic module, and MXI Security's Stealth MXP and Outbacker MXP secure storage devices have achieved this high level of certification. Both devices have Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 Level-2 validation with certificate No.748 for the Stealth MXP and 777 for the Stealth MXP Passport products from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Canadian Communication Security Establishment (CSE.)

Be prepared for the worst

Should you lose a device carrying all your personal data, then what next? Do you have a copy of your valuable personal files, such as a record of your mobile phone PIN and PUK codes, and the customer service departments at your credit card, bank and mobile phone provider - so that you can alert providers, cancel credit cards and order new PIN numbers for accounts that may be compromised.

If you're going to carry personal data, make sure it is secure

MXI Security provides a range of portable security solutions for professionals for whom security and privacy are critical. These products, offering storage capacities of 512 MB up to 100GB, provide portable encryption and authentication controls to ensure the secure transportation of even the most sensitive data. If a device is lost or stolen, the encrypted data it carries remains safe and secure. MXI Security products are available in the UK through Sphinx, one of the UK's leading independent IT distributors (http://www.sphinx.co.uk).

About MXI Security

MXI Security is the leader in providing superior managed portable security solutions designed to meet the highest security and privacy standards of even the most demanding customers. For more information please visit http://www.mxisecurity.com
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