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PGP Encryption Clamps Down Mac Data

By Jack M. Germain MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jun 9, 2008 4:00 AM PT

PGP announced Monday it has added pre-boot authentication to the PGP Whole Disk Encryption for Mac OS X systems deployed in enterprise environments.

PGP Encryption Clamps Down Mac Data

This latest release, version 9.9, adds pre-boot authentication to the company's data encryption technology for Intel-based Mac OS X systems Tiger and Leopard, providing protection for data on desktops, laptops and removable media.

The use of pre-boot authentication removes an April 7 restriction the National Institutes of Health (NIH) placed on not using Mac notebooks to hold sensitive data, according to company officials.

"We're going to change all of that with this product," John Dasher, director of product management at PGP, told MacNewsWorld.

Laptop Losses

Mac computers are becoming increasingly popular for mission-critical tasks within pharmaceutical, government, defense and education markets, PGP officials said. That requires users and IS/IT departments to have strong data security to protect intellectual property, customer and partner data and corporate brand equity.

"Mobile computers are surpassing desktops in the workplace. Employees leave their offices every night with every file they ever touched," said Dasher. "Reports indicate that 50 percent of all breaches result from laptops," he said.

What It Does

PGP Whole Disk Encryption for Mac OS X now provides IS/IT departments with an integrated, single management console for full disk encryption for both Windows and OS X clients. In order to eliminate the risk of a data breach in the event of a lost or stolen Mac, PGP Whole Disk Encryption 9.9 locks down the entire contents of a laptop, desktop, external drive or USB flash drive, including boot sectors, system and swap files.

The encryption product can be used with PGP Universal Server to manage existing policies, users, keys and configurations, expediting deployment and policy enforcement.

PGP's desktop encryption solutions are the only products available today for both Windows and Mac OS X that are FIPS 140-2 validated for use by the U.S. government, Dasher said.

"This is not a program ported from Windows. It is made for Macs and is a dedicated Mac program. Cryptography is cryptography. But we do use shared code," he added.

Mac Users

The added feature in the latest PGP encryption release will help enterprise to better deploy Mac laptops where security concerns are critical, said PGP. Macs are moving beyond creatives into executive offices, research and development centers within corporations and IT environments.

Eighty-seven percent of organizations have at least one Mac, according to a Yankee Group report issued in May. That reflects an increase from 48 percent two years ago.

Other industry reports show that Mac use is growing in enterprise. The Mac footprint is now 4.2 percent, according to a Forrester Research report on Enterprise Desktop And Web 2.0/SaaS Platform Trends in 2007, issued in March.

Mac computers are used increasingly in important vertical industries such as defense, education, government, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, according to Dasher.

Throttling Effect

PGP Whole Disk Encryption prevents unauthorized system use by requiring authentication before Mac OS X can boot. It works automatically and transparently to protect the hard drive, USB (Universal Serial Bus) devices and FireWire drives. It also allows shared devices securely with Windows users.

The program adjusts the amount of system resources it uses to accommodate tasks that are running, Dasher said. For example, while disk encryption is taking place, the process does affect the computer's performance somewhat. However, the computer is still usable.

For example, a user, Dasher said, can watch a wide-screen movie on the laptop while the encryption program is running and not drop a frame.

"Programs like ours have to fit the existing architecture. It isn't realistic for users to fit their operation into ours," he said.

Pricing and Availability

PGP Whole Disk Encryption 9.9 for the Mac will ship in July and can be purchased through the PGP global network of resellers.

Pricing starts at US$119 per user. Discounts are available based on the number of seats, according to the company.

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