Q&A: Kingston's Mark Leathem On the Portable Media Threat

More than 100 million USB flash-memory drives will be sold worldwide this year. Though small, some can hold up to 8 GB of data. iPods, which use the same technology, pack up to 60 GB of storage. Mark Leathem, business development director at Kingston Technologies, recently spoke with VARBusiness editor Larry Walsh about this emerging threat.

VB: How much of a risk is there of people using USB drives to steal sensitive corporate data?
Leathem: In terms of U.S. dollars, there's a lot of evidence that it adds up considerably. The threat is twofold: People are using USB devices to take companies' confidential information out of the building, and they're using [them] as part of their business environment--it's the latter stage you hear most about. When you try to quantify it in terms of dollars, it's difficult. But the frequency with which it's happening is frightening.

VB: USB and flash-memory drives are still a rather immature technology. Is the threat of people using portable media to steal or misuse data a VAR opportunity?
Leathem: Every time there's a headline--and I know this sounds tacky--there's an opportunity.

VB: Kingston's DataTraveler Elite, Privacy Edition, automatically encrypts everything the user saves to it. How important is transparency to the end user?
Leathem: Ease of use for the end user is the most important thing. Having technology that they're going to use vs. something they won't use is key. You've got to provide them with something that will protect the data and not require them to do anything special to protect it.

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