West Midlands Ambulance Service adopts secure, encrypted USB sticks

The idea behind the encrypted, secure USB stick contract is that staff at the health trust's 58 ambulance stations, as well as its headquarters, can store data on the secure USB sticks when they are on the move.

The NHS service, which has 864 vehicles, said it will be using Blockmaster's encrypted and secure SafeSticks to provide all members of staff who want to transport data - which includes patient information - with security using the stick's automatic hardware encryption.

Plans call for the ambulance staff to use SafeConsole, a web-based management solution, to manage, audit, reset passwords, and apply custom policies to all SafeSticks no matter where they are.

SafeConsole - the management software for SafeStick - supports a number of security features, including a file block facility; EasyShare, a temporary password utility; and auto disabling of data when required.

Other features of the software - v3.3 of which was unveiled at the Infosecurity Europe show earlier this year - include the automatic encryption of on-stick data, and Certificate Carrier, a feature which allows the SafeStick to double up as a mobile authentication token.

Tony Carne, Head of ICT at West Midlands Ambulance Service said that the SafeSticks have provided the reassurance that the service's data is protected no matter where or who it is with.

Over at BlockMaster, Daniel Ostner, the firm's CEO, said that, with the public sector being one of the hardest hit sectors for data loss, it is great to see that the ambulance service is setting the benchmark with information security.

"Hopefully over the coming months we will see more companies being pro-active with data protection, however we believe it is our role to help organisations achieve this by making solutions that have the highest grade security but are also easy-to-use."

Earlier this year, BlockMaster polled around 100 UK office workers on their mobile data security habits and found that 40% of respondents said they had lost a USB stick at some point.

64% of the office workers surveyed also said that they had left a drive unprotected in a PC, exposed for anyone to potentially access or steal.

On top of this, the company said that ignorance seems to be bliss, as nearly a third (30%) of office workers have no idea whether the USB sticks they are leaving around are secure.

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