Full disk encryption is required by a number of regulatory agencies to ensure desktop and laptop computers are protected against intrusion.
But the technology has its drawbacks, including making it harder for IT departments to automatically install software patches and updates over a network because an encrypted device demands a password before giving access.
Toronto’s WinMagic Inc., which makes the SecureDoc encryption software, believes it has an answer for its product.
The company has created an extension to its software called PBConnex, which is a hardened Linux-based kernel that loads prior to the operating system boot that can link to a wired or wireless network for authenticating users.
As a result, says Gary McCracken, WinMagic’s vice-president of technology partnerships, “the network is available to participate in the management of the device.”
PBConnex is now part of SecureDoc v.5.2 SR2.
With it the company believes it can assure WinMagic customers a drop in the cost of administering encrypted disks which McCracken believes has held back widespread adoption by many organizations.
In addition to saving man-hours of staff having to manually enter passwords to update individual PCs, McCracken said, time can be saved when users call support if they forget their passwords.
Many organizations hand SecureDoc support to dedicated IT staff, he said. However, PBConnex creates a secure link through SecureDoc Enterprise Server to Microsoft’s Active Directory for authenticating users. That means administrators who manage Active Directory can control user access anytime.
If a PC is taken off the network – or stolen – it can be marked in Active Directory so it can’t be authenticated at all.
The solution also works for staff who share a workstation with a Windows password.
Some companies avoid the problem by using an “autoboot” process, but McCracken said that leaves the PC vulnerable.
WinMagic CEO Thi Nguyen-Huu said the company will try to add the solution to software made by makers of authorization solutions.
SecureDoc is priced at between $60 and $99 a user depending on volume.