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Iron Mountain retrofits truck fleet with self-designed security system

CEO says RF and authentication can prevent lost backup tapes

By Brian Fonseca
August 6, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - No longer relying only on its truck drivers to ensure the safe delivery of data and backup tapes, Iron Mountain Inc. is outfitting its transport vehicles with a new chain-of-custody technology designed to ward off human fallibility that can lead to the misplacement or outright theft of data.

As part of a $15 million investment over the last 18 months, Iron Mountain is in the midst of rolling out a patent-pending vehicle security system across its North American fleet of trucks, according to CEO Richard Reese. Called InControl, the new transportation platform technology and associated services has been embedded in more than 1,150 vehicles to date. The rollout will continue through 2008.

Iron Mountain has already retrofitted its Data Protection business fleet, which serves most of the Boston-based company's computer backup tape storage customers. Efforts to embed InControl in Iron Mountain's records management and shredding vehicles is currently under way. The service is also now being rolled out in Europe, starting first in the U.K.

Offering radio frequency, authentication and real-time tracking capabilities, InControl is expected to help prevent the mysterious disappearance of critical data tapes or worse, the actual removal of tapes from the trucks during transit, Reese said. The biggest culprit leading to lost data, he said, is the unpredictable nature of human error.

"We try to diagnose errors that drivers can make," he said. "They're pretty reliable, but humans make errors. So every chance that we could, we've tried to capture that and prevent it as part of the strategy."

Here are some of the features of InControl's vehicle alarm system:

  • Driver proximity controls allowing InControl to use radio-frequency-enabled keys to establish an alarm system that prevents drivers from mistakenly walking away from a vehicle that has not been properly secured or alarmed.
  • A dual-key ignition immobilizer that requires two keys to be inserted at once to start the vehicle. One of the keys is designed to prevent any breaches or errors in the vehicle cargo area by locking and activating the cargo alarming system prior to vehicle ignition.
  • An in-motion security detection system to prevent information loss while a vehicle is in motion. An operator warning alarm will be instantly triggered if any cargo area locking or security system is improperly opened or fails once a vehicle is moving.
  • Wireless scanning technology that allows InControl to validate pickup and delivery transactions in real-time and send that information back to a processing station for auditing and tracking purposes, while also identifying any abnormalities that may show up.

Reese noted that the business of transporting information and handling backup tapes has changed dramatically in recent years as data privacy concerns and new laws have led customers to worry less about creating multiple copies of data and more about keeping track of precisely where their data is at any given moment.

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