Marks: Encryption important to mobile backups

Increasing numbers of workers tackle their jobs on the go -- creating, manipulating and sharing data on mobile devices such as laptops, phones and tablets. But creating backups of mobile devices is only the first step. All that information needs to be protected from prying eyes as well.

In this Storage Decisions video, Howard Marks, chief scientist at Networks Are Our Lives, discusses the need for encryption when developing a backup and recovery plan for mobile devices. Aside from compatibility issues with specific platforms, Marks says that data encryption is a critical part of mobile backups and recovery -- noting there is more than one way to secure backup data.   

"You can encrypt your data so that when that device is lost, the data is not available. The other choice is not to store data on the mobile devices at all -- to say, 'I'm going to let you have your iPad and I'm going to give you a VDI client for your iPad, [and] if you want to access corporate applications from your iPad, you do it via VDI and the data stays on the server," although the device needs network access to reach that data, says Marks.

He noted that efforts to lock data with some form of encryption key can backfire if the key is so complex that users keep it close to (or saved on) the device.

"As long as the data and the [encryption] key are together, the data is not encrypted," says Marks, who also notes that encryption is always going to be noticeable, but the technology can be "obtrusive" or "less obtrusive."

Marks also offers his insights on some of the vendors who manufacture products that are intended to provide these functions, such as Code 42's CrashPlan, Druva's inSync and Asigra's backup service.

"Your users are irresponsible. Transferring responsibility to your irresponsible users is not transferring, but abdicating, responsibility. We are the data management pros. It is our job to keep our data safe," says Marks.

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