Montreal firm outfits law enforcement with USB device

As police officers at the City of London Police in the U.K. honour their vow every day to serve and protect, its IT department is challenged daily to save and protect valuable information.

A Canadian technology has given London’s peacekeepers lightweight ammunition, called Stealth MXP, to enable secure data portability. From Montreal-based MXI Security, Stealth MXP, is a USB device with built in biometric reader and encryption mechanism that allows workers to securely transport data from one location to another.

Stealth MXP enables the City of London Police to attain a balance between data availability and security, explained Gary Brailsford, information management services department head at the City of London Police.

“What we’re looking at quite so closely is the (information) accessibility demands of the business against the security requirements that we have to follow; and that’s really been the biggest challenge for us – identifying the appropriate balance between those two areas,” Brailsford said.

Around 80 Stealth MXP devices have been deployed to the London police force, and Brailsford said his group is expecting to purchase additional units. The device is equipped with two-factor authentication, where the user is required to provide a username and password, as well as a biometric print for authentication before the device can be accessed. The information contained on the device is also encrypted.

All security credentials – username, password, biometric prints and certificates – are stored on the Stealth MXP device to enable easier user interface.

Using the USB device, field personnel at the City of London Police can easily and securely transfer information from one location to another without the burden of lugging around a laptop, said Brailsford.

As the lead organization against economic crimes like fraud, many of the London police force’s fraud officers travel around the world in pursuit of cases. The Stealth MXP gives them added confidence that sensitive data are being stored on a secure device, he explained.

“I’m confident in the fact that if [the employees] were to leave that device in transit, that the information is secure and that is what I care about this whole process. It’s not that the device is lost but having the confidence that the information that’s on that device is now inaccessible,” he stressed.

Because the device is both password-protected and biometric-enabled, users are assured the data contained on the Stealth MXP device is inaccessible to other people in case it gets lost or stolen.

In the past, the City of London Police relied heavily on hard drive encryption and used a hardware token for decrypting files, said Brailsford. “It was quite unwieldy and difficult to deploy and manage from a central administration point of view.”

Its investment on the Stealth MXP also allowed the City of London Police to reduce the demand for laptops and therefore, reduce acquisition costs, he added.

“If we look at the business practices and why people want these secure laptops it was mainly about being able to move information around. Actually, the laptop was an over investment for that type of work that [we want to do],” he explained.

Prior to deployment of the Stealth MXP, the City of London Police had undergone a technical update for its desktops, migrating from a Windows NT platform to a mix of Windows 2000 and Windows XP, Brailsford said. Without that transformation, its previous system would not have been able to support the Stealth devices, he added.

Stringent regulatory requirements as well as recent high-profile incidents of data loss and theft are driving government organizations as well as large enterprises towards secure portable devices like the Stealth MXP, said Serge Bertini, global vice-president for sales and marketing at MXI Security. “The level of awareness (among organizations) is much higher today than it used to be about a year ago.”

Stealth MXP was launched in April 2006, after which it had undergone an almost year-long certification process under the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS). It has since earned a FIPS 140-2 certification, Bertini said.

In addition to Stealth MXP, the City of London Police is also using MXI Security’s Outbacker MXP, a high-capacity external hard drive with the same security features as the Stealth MXP, but with larger storage capability.

The tool is being used for certain large-scale operations that generate larger amounts of data to be stored and transported, according to Brailsford. “The confidence level of the officers in using these products is very high.” 

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