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Recommendation: Encrypt Backup Tapes

Iron Mountain, which provides records management and data protection services, is advising its off-site data protection customers to encrypt their backup tapes. The advice follows a highly publicized gaffe by the company in May, when Time Warner, one of its customers, reported Iron Mountain lost 40 backup tapes containing the names and Social Security details of its employees, dating back to 1986.

Iron Mountain is now recommending appliance-based encryption to its 40,000 off-site data protection customers as a reliable means to secure private information stored on backup tapes without compromising disaster recovery objectives.

"We continue to advise on the criticality of tape encryption, but many companies still have yet to implement encryption as part of the backup process because it can add layers of complexity and increase the time required to successfully complete the backup process," says Kevin Roden, executive VP and CIO of Iron Mountain. "This can impede an organization's ability to back up data in a timely manner, and to recover data when it's needed; for obvious reasons, this is unacceptable. So we embarked on a significant analysis of methods and technologies and concluded that for companies like ours, appliance-based encryption is the best solution."

There are several options for implementing encryption, including backup software and application-based solutions that can balance disaster recovery and privacy objectives, Iron Mountain says. However, for large companies with expanding volumes of information and shrinking backup windows, Iron Mountain recommends an appliance-based approach for encrypting backup tapes and other removable media.

From a technology perspective, encryption appliances deliver a high-throughput low-impact configuration, allow use of compression and require lower management overhead, says the service provider. This means businesses can secure private information without compromising disaster recovery protection or making significant changes to their current backup processes.

Iron Mountain selected Decru DataFort storage security appliances as an enterprise encryption platform for its internally generated backup tapes. Advantages of the Decru solution include a market leadership position, significant government and commercial implementations, and the ability to deploy an encryption solution in a very timely manner.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a contributing editor for Enterprise Systems. He can be reached at stephen.swoyer@spinkle.net.

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