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Caught on Tape

IBM solutions address tape-security requirements

Illustration by Dave Cutler

Stories about lost or stolen media containing the personal information of thousands of customers have almost become an IT industry cliché. The cold, hard fact is, if you utilize tape drives, there’s a chance, however remote, you may end up losing one or more tapes somewhere along the line. As legislation designed to address the risks that results from data loss continues to emerge, companies are wise to stay up to date on the latest technological innovations meant to secure vulnerable tape data.

In the United States, requirements for tape-data security is being driven in significant part by legislation originally passed in California that has been subsequently implemented in other states. The legislation requires notification to consumers in the event their personal information is either lost or otherwise compromised. That legislative effort has rippled through more than 30 states, so companies are increasingly focusing attention on this area, since most indications point to this becoming an increasingly important issue.

Legislation varies by jurisdiction and industry, with some requiring notification in the event of data loss, while others concentrate on securing the data to limit the risk in the event of data loss. In any case, the message is clear: secure your data.

“The legislation that’s out there isn’t necessarily saying you have to encrypt tape. Rather it says you have to protect the data you collect and store about customers—encryption just happens to be an important tool in that regard,” says Greg Gendron, IBM worldwide Systems and Technology Group tape sales business development executive. “The real pain for companies when it comes to much of this legislation is that it requires them to notify their customers in the event of a loss of personally identifiable data, which is estimated at about $150 per person or name for that notification. Of the states that have this kind of legislation on the books, many—California included—already make allowances for lost data so long as the data is encrypted. The reason customers are pursuing this is they believe, for the most part, if data is encrypted they won’t have to notify.”

IBM has released a series of tape-based solutions meant to help secure tape data and to bring those solutions to the small and medium business (SMB) space as an affordable alternative to some of IBM’s enterprise-class offerings.

“We’ve been asked by our customers to provide a midrange-level tape encryption solution,” says Brad Johns, IBM* System Storage* tape market management. “They want to know what we can do to help protect their data. They want to make sure that, if tapes leave the control of the datacenter, data is secure and their customer data isn’t at risk.”

"We knew that tape-data security was going to continue to increase in importance, so we continued to develop the TS1120 even after its initial release, and we rolled out the TS1120 tape drive with encryption capability." -Brad Johns, IBM System Storage tape market management

Ryan Rhodes is a freelance writer for IBM Systems Magazine.

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Caught on Tape

IBM solutions address tape-security requirements

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IBM TS1120 offers the ability to encrypt data at the tape-drive level.

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