When the broadband goes away…

{another rant about work}

I find myself heavily dependent on my broadband internet connection. For the most part it is because of the way my job’s VPN security works.

I use to be able to remain productive and keep working when the broadband connection was down. Not any more.

You see, because individuals have lost, or allowed to be stolen, data that should always remain in secure areas, the bureaucrats have massively over reacted. This is the world we live in post 9/11.  Instead of looking at the individual instances of data loss and getting rid of the people that allowed the data to be taken out of our secure environment and fixing that bit of lax security the bosses treat us all like we are dunderheads that can’t follow some very simple rules.

A laptop with over 26 million secure data records was stolen from an individual. That individual had no business taking 26 million secure data records out of the secure building. The response from the bosses? Penalize everyone that uses laptops or workstations outside of a secure building, regardless of how secure their data needs to be.

I access work via VPN which stands for Virtual Privacy Netoworking. For most that is more than enough security, but not for my job. Now specialized software must be running on my workstation for the work network to recognize me as legitimate. I guess they don’t trust VPN. That person that lost the laptop with 26 million secure data records wasn’t even using VPN. They were supposedly taking the laptop home to do work they hadn’t finished. If they had been using VPN, they could have securely accessed the data from home, and if the laptop was stolen it would have been no big deal because the data would not have been on the laptop’s hard drive.

Did that stop the data breaches? Nope. You see since it got harder to take laptops out of secure areas, other individuals decided that it would be okay if they dismounted the hard drives and carried them home to install in another computer. A further 8 million secure data records were lost this way when the idiot with the hard drive left it on a commuter train. But did the bosses react reasonably? Heh. They must not trust that the software that proves legitimacy on top of VPN either because they decided that all hard drives had to be encrypted. Did they do anything about the data walking out the front door? No. But now if some other idiot lost a laptop or a hard drive at least no one could read the data. So now I have an encrypted hard drive with special software that proves I am legitimate when I connect to work via VPN.

Guess what! Yep, some other idiot lost more data. Somewhere around the 12 million record range. The bosses hushed this one up and it was barely a blip on the news media. How did this happen? Well since the idiot couldn’t take a laptop home that had data on it, and the encrypted hard drive wouldn’t work when he installed it on another computer at home that did not have the encryption software, he decided to take the data home on a USB flash drive (jump drive, thumb drive). And he lost the USB flash drive.

Now do you think the bosses would have wised up to the fact that the problem was not with the hardware security, but the humans that were using the hardware inappropriately? Yeah, right. So now they will be issuing encrypted USB flash drives, so in case anyone else is taking secure data home (which they are not allowed to do) at least no one will be able to read the flash drive. It would have been much simpler and less costly just to provide these idiots with VPN access. But, no. That can’t happen.

So, you ask, how does this impact Devenbert? Why can’t he be productive when his broadband is down?

Before the laptop data loss I could use VPN from my personal home computer over my dialup ISP account. That extra software that checks for “legitimate” connections put an end to that.

Before the USB flash drives were encrypted, I could at least download documents from the work computer and use my home computer to email them to my bosses and coworkers via my personal email account. But now I can not even get a simple non-secure document out of my work computer. USB flash is encrypted and my home computer can’t read it. And now when my broadband connection is down I can’t connect to the work network via the extra special VPN. I can’t use my home computer as a backup. I am literally, and completely, dead in the water.

Maybe when my broadband goes down next time, I’ll polish my keyboard or do something equally useful, like leave an empty box on a street corner.


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