The insurance industry was at the forefront when mainframe technology began to be used in business some 40 years ago, but we quickly lost that reputation in the years since. In fact, insurance—by nature a risk-averse business sector—has been slower than most to adopt new technologies, and wireless devices are no exception.

 

While there has certainly been some use of Blackberries, Internet-ready phones, and other mobile devices (notably among agents), much of the industry continues to resist the temptation to be online every waking (and sleeping) moment. Aside from some Luddite tendencies, why should this be the case? One reason, and a well-founded one, is that data security for wireless devices has been sketchy.

 

Say what you will about the joys of not having to untangle wires and not having to be at one’s physical desk to be in communication, the fact remains that wireless communication can be tapped into in a number of ways, many of them illegal. This fact has undoubtedly kept a number of companies, including insurers, from approving employees’ wireless access to their networks.

 

That’s why I was heartened to see a report in Computerworld recently that Samsung Electronics Co. had announced its first self-encrypting solid-state disk (SSD) drives. The drives will come in 1.8-in. and 2.5-in. sizes for handheld devices and laptops, respectively. In tandem with Samsung's announcement, Dell Inc. introduced a suite of mobile data security technologies for some of its laptops, with native drive encryption expected to be available in the next few months.

 

This is great news on a number of fronts. While some instances of data loss occur because someone has breached a network, implanted malware, and done their dirty deeds, many times the problem is as simple—and common—as a stolen or misplaced laptop or other mobile device. Having encrypted drives goes a long way towards making such incidents less threatening. This technology, along with other tech that can destroy a disk’s contents in the event of unauthorized access, should help ease user fears in our industry and pave the way for wider wireless adoption.

 

Meanwhile, anyone in our industry buying any kind of portable hardware should be on the lookout for devices that offer disk encryption as standard equipment. Encryption is not a perfect solution, but it’s a pretty good one for this time in history. As for being online for every waking (or sleeping) moment, I’m not so sure that’s a great idea, but that’s a subject for another blog.

 

Ara C. Trembly (www.aratremblytechnology.com) is the founder of Ara Trembly, The Tech Consultant and a longtime observer of technology in insurance and financial services. He can be reached at ara@aratremblytechnology.com.

 

For more information on this subject, click: http://www.insurancenetworking.com/issues/2008_61/insurance_technology_solid_state_hard_drives_data_centers_flash-12275-1.html

 

The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.

 

 

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