US20060075506A1 - Systems and methods for enhanced electronic asset protection - Google Patents

Systems and methods for enhanced electronic asset protection Download PDF

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Publication number
US20060075506A1
US20060075506A1 US11167837 US16783705A US2006075506A1 US 20060075506 A1 US20060075506 A1 US 20060075506A1 US 11167837 US11167837 US 11167837 US 16783705 A US16783705 A US 16783705A US 2006075506 A1 US2006075506 A1 US 2006075506A1
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
client device
data store
local data
server
indication
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Abandoned
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US11167837
Inventor
Frank Sanda
Naohisa Fukuda
Edward Laves
Robert Johnston
Justin Tidwell
Raymond Gurgone
David Robins
Laura Worthington
Karlton Zeitz
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Japan Communications Inc
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Japan Communications Inc
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Abstract

Systems and methods for enhanced electronic asset protection are described. One aspect of one described embodiment includes receiving an indication to activate asset protection, the client device having a local data store; and activating asset protection in response to the indication, wherein asset protection comprises disabling the local data store and disabling the client device. In another embodiment, a computer-readable medium (such as, for example random access memory or a computer disk) includes code for carrying out such a method.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims priority to Application Ser. No. 60/583,765, filed on Jun. 28, 2004, titled “Controlling Use of a Mobile Work Station Based on Network Environment,” Application Ser. No. 60/598,364, filed on Aug. 3, 2004, titled “Systems and Methods for Enhancing and Optimizing a User's Experience on an Electronic Device,” Application Ser. No. 60/652,121, filed on Feb. 11, 2005, titled “Remote Access Services,” and Application Ser. No. 60/653,411, filed on Feb. 16, 2005, titled “Creating an Environment for Secure Mobile Access Anywhere,” the entirety of all of which are incorporated herein by reference.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to computer data security and, more particularly systems and methods for enhanced electronic asset protection.
  • BACKGROUND
  • As the workforce becomes more mobile, enterprises often have equipment and data stored remotely, outside of the office. Unfortunately, mobile equipment, such as laptop computers, is sometimes lost or stolen.
  • A stolen or lost laptop may provide an opportunity for someone to access valuable confidential data or attempt to breach the corporate network and access data and systems that are available only to an enterprise's users via the enterprise's private network.
  • When a laptop is stolen, the enterprise may be able to protect the corporate network by, for example, disabling the user account associated with the laptop. However, it may be difficult or impossible to protect the data on the stolen or lost laptop.
  • Conventional hand held devices, such as personal digital assistants (PDA's) provide some facilities for dealing with stolen or lost equipment. For instance, some PDA's include a facility for destroying all of the data on the PDA if the enterprise determines that the PDA is lost or stolen. If the PDA is later recovered or discovered not to have been lost or stolen in the first place, the PDA can typically be recovered by synchronizing the PDA with a user's personal computer. However, when a laptop is stolen, it may be difficult to protect confidential data on the laptop. And if the data is protected by, for example deleting it, recovery of data on the laptop is difficult at best.
  • SUMMARY
  • Embodiments of the present invention provide systems and methods for enhanced electronic asset protection. One aspect of one described embodiment includes a client device receiving an indication to activate asset protection, the client device having a local data store; and activating asset protection in response to the indication, wherein asset protection comprises disabling the local data store and disabling the client device. In another embodiment, a computer-readable medium (such as, for example random access memory or a computer disk) includes code for carrying out such a method.
  • This illustrative embodiment is mentioned not to limit or define the invention, but to provide one example to aid understanding thereof. Illustrative embodiments are discussed in the Detailed Description, and further description of the invention is provided there. Advantages offered by the various embodiments of the present invention may be further understood by examining this specification.
  • FIGURES
  • These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention are better understood when the following Detailed Description is read with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
  • FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing an illustrative environment for implementation of one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating the modules present on a client device 102 in one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating the modules present on a security server 104 in one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating the modules present on an enterprise server 106 in one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating a process for generating and distributing an indication to activate asset protection in one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustrating a process for activating asset protection in one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustrating a process for disabling the client device 102 in one embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustrating a process for disabling the local data store in one embodiment of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 9 is a flowchart illustrating a process for recovering the client device 102 in one embodiment of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Embodiments of the present invention provide systems and methods for enhanced electronic asset protection. There are multiple embodiments of the present invention. By way of introduction and example, one illustrative embodiment of the present invention provides a method for protecting data stored on a laptop after the laptop is stolen.
  • The user reports the fact that the laptop was stolen to an administrator. The administrator sets an indicator in a policy data store that the laptop should execute an asset protection procedure the next time it connects to a network. When the laptop is next powered up, it automatically connects to a network, and the asset protection indicator is transmitted to the laptop.
  • In response to the asset protection indicator, the hard drive on the laptop is encrypted using an encryption key. While the hard drive is encrypted, the laptop begins shutting down devices, such as the network interface card, wireless access card, serial and parallel ports, keyboard, and monitor. In one embodiment, the network interface card continues to accept traffic from the policy data store so that it can receive additional instructions, such as a recovery indication. The laptop also shuts off all or most ports in the firewall and will not execute some or all applications. The laptop may also shut down.
  • If the laptop is not recovered, the data on the laptop is protected from discovery by the user who has stolen or found the laptop. If the laptop is recovered, a recover indication is sent to the laptop. When the laptop receives the recover indication, it uses the encryption key to decrypt the hard drive and enables all the devices, ports, and applications.
  • This introduction is given to introduce the reader to the general subject matter of the application. By no means is the invention limited to such subject matter. Illustrative embodiments are described below.
  • System Architecture
  • Various systems in accordance with the present invention may be constructed. Referring now to the drawings in which like numerals indicate like elements throughout the several figures, FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing an illustrative environment for implementation of one embodiment of the present invention. The system shown in FIG. 1 includes a client 102.
  • Communication with the security server 104 occurs via a network 108. The network 108 may comprise a public or private network and may include the Internet. The network may also comprise a plurality of networks, including, for example, dedicated phone lines between the various components. In one embodiment, the client 102 communicates with the security server 104 via a virtual private network (“VPN”) established over the Internet.
  • The security server 104 is also in communication with an enterprise server 106 via a network. The network 108 may comprise various elements, both wired and wireless. In one embodiment, the communication between the security server 104 and enterprise server 106 occurs over a static VPN established over dedicated communication lines.
  • In one embodiment, a user connects a client device 102 to the network 108 using a network access user interface. The network access user interface is always on and only allows the user to connect to the network 108 via the interface. The network access user interface automatically causes the client 102 to connect to the security server 104 through the network 108. The security server 104 provides value added services to the client 102 and to one or more enterprises. Access to other services, such as the Internet, may be provided via the security server 104.
  • Although FIG. 1 includes only a single client 102, security server 104, and enterprise server 106, an embodiment of the present invention will typically include a plurality of clients 102 and may include a plurality of security servers 104 and enterprise servers 106.
  • Client Devices
  • FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating the modules present on a client device 102 in one embodiment of the present invention. Examples of client device 102 are personal computers, digital assistants, personal digital assistants, cellular phones, mobile phones, smart phones, pagers, digital tablets, laptop computers, Internet appliances, and other processor-based devices. In general, a client device 102 may be any suitable type of processor-based platform that is connected to the network 108, and that interacts with one or more application programs. The client device 102 can contain a processor coupled to a computer-readable medium, such as RAM. Client device 102 may operate on any operating system, such as Microsoft® Windows® or Linux. The client device 102 is, for example, a laptop computer executing a network access user interface.
  • The modules shown in FIG. 2 represent functionality of the client 102. The modules may be implemented as one or more computer programs that include one or more modules. For instance, in one embodiment, all the modules shown in FIG. 2 are contained within a single network access application. Also, the functionality shown on the client 102 may be implemented on a server in other embodiments of the present invention. Likewise, functionality shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 as being on a server may be implemented on the client 102 in some embodiments of the present invention.
  • The client 102 shown in FIG. 2 comprises a VPN client 202. The VPN client 202 allows the client 102 to connect to the enterprise server 106. In one embodiment of the present invention, the VPN client 202 is used to determine whether or not the VPN client 202 is active and whether or not the VPN client 202 is connected to a VPN server. For instance, an embodiment of the present invention may determine whether or not to connect to a particular service based on whether or not the VPN client 202 is enabled.
  • In another embodiment of the present invention, the VPN client 202 is used for four purposes: (1) to manage policy files, which include information, such as a gateway Internet Protocol (IP) address, secrecy and authentication level, and hash; (2) automatically connecting a VPN; (3) automatically disconnecting the VPN; and (4) monitoring the status of the VPN. Each of these four purposes may be affected by other modules, including, for example, the connection manager 210.
  • The client 102 also comprises a secure vault 204. The secure vault 204 protects content on the client 102. In one embodiment, the secure vault 204 is responsible for storing encrypted content on the client 102 and allowing access to the encrypted content based on a set of permissions or policies. In such an embodiment, a content creator can provide access via a viewer to secured content and allow a recipient of the content read-only access or allow the recipient to perform other tasks, such as modifying the content and forwarding it to other users. In another embodiment, the secure vault 204 allows the user to create and distribute secure content to other clients 102, the content creator can decide to send a document to several users and allow two of the users full access and one of the users read-only access.
  • The client 102 shown in FIG. 2 also comprises a firewall 206. The firewall 206 allows port blocking via predefined policies. For instance, in one embodiment, an information technology (“IT”) manager specifies port blocking based on two zones, a safe zone and a dangerous zone. The IT manager specifies one of these two zones for each of the network interface devices installed on the client 102. The IT manager is then able to set port-blocking rules by zone on the firewall 206.
  • For example, the IT manager may classify a Wireless Fidelity (“Wi-Fi”) network interface as dangerous since it has traditionally been considered fairly unsafe. And the IT manager may apply more restrictive port-blocking rules to the dangerous zone than to the safe zone and network interface devices, such as those used to connect to a wired Local Area Network (“LAN”) or a Personal Handyphone System (“PHS”) cellular connection. The PHS standard is a TDD-TDMA based microcellular wireless communications technology and has been traditionally considered relatively safer than Wi-Fi connections. The PHS cellular connection may also be referred to as a wireless wide area network (“WWAN”) as opposed to a dial-up connection providing access to a wide area network (“WAN”).
  • In various other embodiments, the port-blocking rules of the firewall 206 may be based on time of day, client IP address, terminating IP address, terminating and originating port, protocol, and other variables. In one embodiment, the port-blocking rules are based on policy data associated with individual users logged into the client 102.
  • In one embodiment, the port-blocking rules of the firewall 206 include a blacklist. The blacklist allows an IT manager to prevent an application from executing on the client 102. For instance, an IT manager may blacklist a DVD player so that a user is unable to view DVD's on the client 102. The firewall 206 may provide a message to the user informing the user that an application is unavailable.
  • In another embodiment, the firewall 206 implements a white list. The white list is somewhat more restrictive than the blacklist described above. The white list allows only specified applications to execute. For example, an IT manager may allow only MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook to execute. No other applications will be permitted to execute. The firewall 206 may be a custom firewall or a third-party firewall integrated into an embodiment of the present invention.
  • The embodiment shown in FIG. 2 also includes an antivirus module 208. The antivirus module 208 shown determines whether policy files, virus dictionary, or other virus-related resources are out of date and provides the client 102 with a mechanism for updating the files or data. The antivirus module 208 may restrict access to various connections, applications, and other functionality when the policy files are out of date. For instance, the antivirus module 208 may restrict the client 102 to connecting to a single gateway through which the policy files are available. In one embodiment, the antivirus module 208 comprises a third-party antivirus product that is integrated with the other modules on the client 102.
  • The client 102 also comprises a connection manager 210, which includes a rules processor. In one embodiment, the connection manager 210 assigns a priority number to every connection, e.g., one to one hundred, and selects the connection with the highest number to connect to.
  • The connection manager 210 may provide a connection to a variety of networks, including, for example, dial-up, LAN, digital subscriber line (“DSL”), cable modem, Wi-Fi, wireless local area network (“WLAN”), PHS, and satellite.
  • In one embodiment, the connection manager 210 differentiates between public and private connections. A public connection is a connection provided by a service provider who has a relationship with the administrator of the security server 104, which allows the security server 104 to authenticate the connection. For instance, the security server 104 administrator may have a business arrangement with a hotspot provider. In order to connect, the client 102 connects to a local access point and the authentication of the user occurs automatically at the security server 104. In contrast, a private connection requires that all aspects of the authentication mechanism for a connection are managed in the absence of the security server 104, although the connection manager may provide certain facilities to allow for automated authentication where possible.
  • In one embodiment, the connection manager 210 makes connections available or unavailable to the client 102 based on policies present on the client 102. The connection manager 210 may also download changes to policy data and transmit quality of service (“QoS”) and other data to the security server 104 or the enterprise server 106.
  • In one embodiment, the connection manager 210 determines the type of connections that are available based on signals provided by hardware associated with the client 102. For example, when the client 102 passes near a hotspot, a Wi-Fi card in the client 102 senses the hotspot and sends a signal to the connection manager 210. For instance, the Wi-Fi card may sense a broadcast service set identifier (“SSID”). Once the signal exceeds a threshold, the connection manager 210 provides a signal to a user of the client 102 that the network is available or may automatically connect to the hotspot. Alternatively, the Wi-Fi card may poll for a non-broadcast SSID. The connection manager 210 may provide a single connection to the client 102 at one time or may provide multiple connections to the client 102.
  • The client 102 shown in FIG. 2 also comprises a QoS collector 212. The QoS collector 212 collects data values, including, for example, the number of bytes sent and received, the average transfer rate, the average signal strength at connection, termination cause, failed connections, and a network identifier. In another embodiment, the QoS collector 212 collects data during the session to determine when a connection provides inconsistent performance.
  • In one embodiment, the QoS collector 212 collects data regarding a connection during a session but does not send the data for a session until the next session. Thus, if a session is terminated abnormally, the QoS data will still be collected and transferred successfully. In another embodiment, the QoS collector 212 transfers data only when a particular type of connection is detected, such as a high-speed or low cost connection.
  • The client 102 also comprises a session statistics module 214. The session statistics module stores data representing user characteristics. For instance, the session statistic module 214 may store a list of the applications a user generally accesses, how often the user is connected, the typical CPU and memory utilization measure, keyboard sequences, and other characteristics of a user. If a particular user deviates from the expected characteristics by greater than a threshold, such as N standard deviations, and the significance of the statistic is more than a specified amount, the session statistics module 214 can identify the current user as a potential unauthorized user.
  • The session statistics module 214 may perform other tasks as well. For instance, in one embodiment, the session statistics module 214 pre-loads applications based on a user's general usage patterns.
  • The client 102 shown in FIG. 2 also comprises a policy reader 216. In one embodiment, a company's policies are housed on the enterprise server 106. For instance, individual groups and users within an enterprise are identified and associated with policies, such as what types of connections they are able to access and what a user's VPN profile is. The user may also be able to specify a VPN policy on the client 102. In such an embodiment, the policy reader 216 downloads the policy rules from the enterprise server 106 and accesses local user policies and reconciles any conflicts between the two.
  • For example, an IT manager may establish a VPN profile to be used by a user when connecting to a Wi-Fi network. However, the user may wish to create a secondary VPN profile to be used if the first VPN becomes unavailable. The policy reader 216 loads both local and enterprise VPN profiles, resolving any conflict between the two VPN profiles.
  • In one embodiment, the policy reader 216 accesses data at an enterprise, department, and user level. In such an embodiment, some of the policy rules may be stored in a lightweight directory access protocol (“LDAP”) server on the client 102, security server 104, or enterprise server 106. In another embodiment, the policy reader 216 receives only changes to policy data and does not typically download all of the policy data at once. Policies downloaded by the policy reader 216 may be provided to the rules processor of the connection manager 210.
  • The client 102 may also comprises a client security module 216. In one embodiment, the client security module 216 implements a client asset protection process. When the client security module 216 receives a signal indicating that the client asset protection process is to be executed, the client security module 216 may, for example, disable devices and interfaces on the client device 102 and may, in some embodiments, encrypt the hard drive of the client device 102 so that the files stored on the drive are not easily accessible.
  • The client 102 may also comprise a user interface 220. The user interface 220 may control the underlying operating environment or the user's view of the underlying environment. For example, in one embodiment, the user interface 220 supplants the Microsoft® Windows operating system interface from the user's perspective. In other words, the user is unable to access many of the standard Windows features. Such a user interface may be implemented to limit the applications and configuration setting a user is able to access. In some embodiments, such as a personal digital assistant (“PDA”), no user interface is provided by an embodiment of the present invention; the standard PDA user interface is utilized.
  • The client 102 shown in FIG. 2 also comprises a security agent 222. In some embodiments, the security agent 222 is also referred to as a “bomb.” In one embodiment, an IT manager indicates that the security agent 222 should be activated when the client 102 next connects to the enterprise server 106. The IT manager may do so because the client 102 has been reported stolen. Subsequently, the client 102 connects to the enterprise server 106, either directly or indirectly and receives the message to initiate the security agent 222.
  • In one embodiment, when the security agent 222 activates, it stops all applications from being able to run and encrypts the data on the hard drive of the client 102. For instance, the security agent 222 may implement a white list as described above and then implement a secure vault for all data on the client 102. The connection manager 210 may also be configured so that no connections are possible.
  • In one such embodiment, since the data is merely encrypted by security agent 222, rather than erased, the data may be recovered if the client 102 is subsequently recovered. For instance, the enterprise may retain the key needed for decrypting the local drive. The client 102 is returned to the enterprise, which then decrypts the drive. In another embodiment, the data on the local drive of the client is rendered inaccessible by, for example, writing over the data multiple times.
  • The client 102 shown in FIG. 2 also comprises an out-of-band communication receiver 224. The out-of-band communication receiver 224 allows the client to receive communications other than through a network-based connection. The connection manager 210 may manage the out-of-band communication. For instance, the command to activate the security agent 222 may be transferred via a short messaging service (“SMS”) communication received by the out-of-band communication receiver 224.
  • Security Server
  • FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating the modules present on a security server 104 in one embodiment of the present invention. The security server 104 shown in FIG. 3 comprises a remote authentication dial-in user service (“RADIUS”) server 302, which may also be referred to as an AAA (authentication, authorization, and accounting) server. RADIUS is the standard by which applications and devices communicate with an AAA server.
  • The RADIUS server 302 provides authentication services on the security server 104. In some embodiments of the present invention, the RADIUS server 302 proxies to a RADIUS server on the enterprise server 106. In one embodiment, the RADIUS server 302 provides mutual authentication for the client 102 using Extensible Authentication Protocol Transport Layer Security (“EAP-TLS”). Although EAP-TLS itself is strictly an 802.1× authentication protocol, designed primarily for WiFi connections, the underlying TLS authentication protocol may be deployed in both wired and wireless networks. EAP-TLS performs mutual secured sockets layer (“SSL”) authentication. This requires both the client device 102 and the RADIUS server 302 to have a certificate. In mutual authentication, each side may prove its identity to the other using its certificate and its private key.
  • The security server shown in FIG. 3 also comprises an LDAP server 304. The LDAP server 304 uses the LDAP protocol, which provides a mechanism for locating users, organizations, and other resources on the network. In one embodiment of the present invention, the LDAP server 304 provides access control at the network layer to various components that an enterprise customer may or may not purchase. For example, a customer may choose to implement a secure vault as described in relation to FIG. 1. In such a case, the customer or users or groups associated with the customer are also associated with the firewall module. The LDAP entry is then used to determine that the firewall is to be enabled on a client.
  • In some embodiments, the LDAP server 304 is implemented as a list of user identifiers not using the LDAP protocol. In another embodiment, data in the LDAP server 304 is propagated from data present in the enterprise server 106.
  • The security server 104 shown in FIG. 3 also comprises a session manager 306. The session manager 306 controls sessions, including sessions between the client 102 and enterprise server 106. In some embodiments, the session manager 306 also determines how to route data requests. For instance, the session manager 306 may determine that a particular data request should be routed to the Internet rather than to the enterprise server 106. This may be referred to as “splitting the pipe” and provides a mechanism to replace “split tunneling” (a traditional configuration option with most standard VPN clients) at the client device by the more secure split of traffic not intended for the enterprise at the security server, allowing monitoring of all traffic without the enterprise incurring the expense of the extra bandwidth required.
  • In some embodiments, the client 102 and enterprise server 106 establish a VPN for communication. In such an embodiment, the session manager 306 may be unable to route requests to any location other than the enterprise—the packets are encrypted and thus, cannot be separately evaluated.
  • In one embodiment, the session manager 306 performs automated authentication of a client device 102 or user. For example, if the session manager 306 determines that a client 102 is approaching a Wi-Fi hotspot, the session manager 306 is able to pre-populate the hotspot with the certificate that the hotspot requires to authenticate the user. In this manner, the authentication appears very fast to the user. The session manager 306 may also control the manner in which data is queued for download to the client device 102.
  • In one such embodiment, the session manager 306 provides two modes for data queuing. In a first mode, the session manager 306 determines that the network down time will be brief, e.g., the user is moving through a tunnel, which interferes with network access. In such a case, the session manager queues a minimal amount of data. In a second mode, the session manager 306 determines that the network down time will be of a longer duration, e.g., the user is boarding a plane from New York to Tokyo. In such a case, the session manager 306 may queue a larger amount of data. In one such embodiment, the session manager 306 determines the mode by querying the user for the downtime interval. When the user reconnects to the security server 104, the session manager 306 determines the best manner of downloading the queued data and begins the download.
  • In one embodiment, the session manager 306 comprises a packet shaper (not shown). The packet shaper provides various functional capabilities to the session manager 306. For example, in one embodiment, the packet shaper provides a mechanism for prioritizing packets sent between the enterprise server 106 and the client 102. In one embodiment, the packet shaper utilizes Multiprotocol Label Switching (“MPLS”). MPLS allows a specific path to be specified for a given sequence of packets. MPLS allows most packets to be forwarded at the switching (layer 2) level rather than at the (routing) layer 3 level. MPLS provides a means for providing QoS for data transmissions, particularly as networks begin to carry more varied traffic.
  • The session manager 306 may also provide session persistence capabilities. For instance, in one embodiment, when a user drops a connection or moves from one provider network coverage area to another, the connection manager 306 persists a virtual connection as the first connection is terminated and the second is initiated.
  • The session manager 306 may include a server-side rules engine. The server-side rules engine may use historical information, such as the session statistics described above, for statistical attack determination. For instance, session manager 306 may access a stored statistic regarding a client device 102 and based on monitoring of the current statistics for the client device 102 determine that an unauthorized user is using the client device 102.
  • The security server 104 shown in FIG. 3 also comprises a real-time monitor 308. The real-time monitor 308 monitors the status of communications, such as which clients and users are logged on, the amount of data being transferred, ongoing QoS measures, ports in use, and other information.
  • When the real-time monitor 308 detects a problem, it may issue an alert to network support. In one embodiment, data from the real-time monitor 308 is provided to users via a portal available on the security server 308. In another embodiment, the real-time portal 308 transfers information to the enterprise server 106, from which users access the data.
  • The embodiment shown in FIG. 3 also comprises a historical monitor 310. The historical monitor 310 provides information similar to the real-time monitor 310. However, the underlying data is historical in nature. For instance, in one embodiment, the historical monitor 310 provides audit information for making intelligent business decisions and for dealing with regulatory compliance issues.
  • The information available via the historical monitor 310 may include, for example, historical QoS data, registration compliance data, and metrics consistency data. The historical data monitor 310 may be used to determine that certain clients are not performing optimally by comparing metrics of various clients over time. For instance, by evaluating information available via the historical data monitor 310, a support person may be able to determine that a radio tuner on a specific client device 102 is failing. If the user of one client device 102 is complaining about the availability of service, but other users are able to successfully access service, then the client device's radio may be the problem.
  • The historical data monitor 310 may also be used to reconcile information captured on the security server 104 regarding connections and data provided by telecommunication carriers. The data may be used to determine when certain resources need to be increased and when a certain carrier is not performing adequately.
  • The security server also comprises a database 312. In embodiments of the present invention, the database 312 may be any type of database, including, for example, MySQL, Oracle, or Microsoft SQL Server relational databases. Also, although the database 312 is shown as a single database in FIG. 2, the database 312 may actually comprise multiple databases, multiple schemas within one or more databases, and multiples tables within one or more schemas. The database 312 may also be present on one or more other machines, e.g., database servers.
  • In one embodiment of the present invention, the database 312 stores customer information regarding enterprises served by the security server 104, such as a list of valid users, a list of valid cellular cards, the relationships between the individual users and groups within the enterprise, and other customer information.
  • For example, in one embodiment, the database 312 stores an association between users and cellular data cards. The enterprise may allocate a single user to a specific data card. Alternatively, the enterprise may associate a group of users with a group of cellular data cards. Other types of data may also be stored in the database 312, such as billing data.
  • The security server 104 shown in FIG. 3 also comprises a QoS server 314. The QoS server 314 uploads information from the QoS collector 212 on the client device 102 and stores the QoS data. The QoS server 314 can collect data from multiple clients and store it in the database 312.
  • The security server also comprises a QoS tools engine 316. The QoS tools engine 316 displays data made available by the QoS server 314 and other processes, such as the real-time monitor 308.
  • In one embodiment, the QoS tools engine 316 provides an aggregation of QoS data in a spreadsheet. In another embodiment, the QoS tools engine 316 provides data using map views, pie charts, and graphs. The QoS tools engine 316 may also provide the capability for setting QoS-based alarms and may provide data to users via a portal.
  • In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the security server 104 also comprises a portal server 318. The portal server 318 may be, for example, a web server. Any standard web server application may be utilized, including Microsoft® Internet Information Server (“IIS”) or Apache.
  • Although the security server 104 shown in FIGS. 1 and 3 is illustrated as a single server, it may comprise multiple servers. For example, in one embodiment of the present invention, the security server 104 comprises multiple regional servers.
  • Also, the description above suggests that data is provided to and queried from the security server 104 by the client 102, i.e., the client pulls the data. However, in some embodiments, the client 102 also comprises a listener (not shown) so that the security server 104 can push data to the client 102.
  • Enterprise Server
  • FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating the modules present on an enterprise server 106 in one embodiment of the present invention. The enterprise server 106 may also be referred to herein as a customer server and may comprise one or more servers for one or more enterprises linked to one or more security servers 104.
  • The enterprise server 106 shown in FIG. 4 comprises a policy server 402. The policy server 402 provides a means for managing the policy rules, including, for example, available VPN profiles, available transports (e.g. WiFi, LAN, PHS, Dialup), firewall rules, such as blacklists and white lists, connection rules, and antivirus rules. The policy server 402 may include other rules as well, such as the level of data throttling to perform for each client or group of clients. Data throttling limits the data transfer rate to a particular client 102 so that connection resources can be optimized.
  • The policies may be managed at one or more levels. For example, an IT manager may wish to create a VPN profile for the enterprise as a whole, but a different VPN profile for an engineering group since the engineering group needs access to various unique applications.
  • The policy server 412 may also provide a mechanism for configuring the location of various servers that the client 102 will utilize. For instance, the policy server 412 may allow an IT manager to specify the IP address of an acceleration server 404 or a vault server 406
  • In one embodiment, the policy server also allows the IT manager to specify which users receive updates for various components on the client 102. The policy server 402 may also allow the IT manager to perform connection configuration. For instance, the IT manager may use the policy server to specify phone numbers for PHS connections, Wi-Fi SSID's for private connections, and other connection configuration information.
  • The enterprise server 106 shown in FIG. 4 also comprises an acceleration server 404. The acceleration server 404 performs processes to improve the performance of data transfer. For instance, the acceleration server 404 may automatically compress images that are to be transferred to a client 102.
  • In one embodiment, the acceleration server 404 communicates with the policy server 402. An IT manager sets acceleration rules using the policy server 402, and the acceleration server 404 uses these rules to determine what level of acceleration to use for a particular communication. In one embodiment, the IT manager sets a default level of acceleration for all communication and a specific level of acceleration for one group of users. The specific level of acceleration may be referred to as an override.
  • The enterprise server 106 also comprises a vault server 406. The vault server comprises two components, an automatic component and an administration component. In one embodiment, the automatic component integrates with an enterprise's mail server (not shown) and performs operations on emails to and from the mail server. For instance, the vault server 406 may quarantine an email, automatically encrypt the email before it is sent, add a legal disclaimer to an email, or perform other functions on the email.
  • In one embodiment, the automatic component of the vault server 406 searches an email based on words or based on the domain or specific address to which the email is addressed or from which the email originated. Using this information, the user can perform functions on the email, such as those described above.
  • The administration component of the vault server 406 allows a user to terminate access to secure content, either by a specific user or by all users. It also logs activity. Using one embodiment of the vault server 406, a user can indicate that a set of users whose employment has been terminated will no longer have access to any secure content. In an alternative embodiment of the vault server 406, a user can indicate that a given element of secure content, say a price list, is now out of date, and so that piece of secure content will no longer be viewable by any user. When each user accesses the secure content, the vault server 406 logs the event. So for each secure content element, the vault server 406 creates a log of all activity on the secure content.
  • In one embodiment, the vault server 406 also compresses data. For instance, one embodiment utilizes standard PKZIP compression to compress all content. In another embodiment, an IT manager may identify three types of images and specify a different level of compression for each type of image based on the level of resolution necessary for each type of image.
  • The enterprise server 108 also comprises a RADIUS server 408 and LDAP server 410, which are similar to those described above in relation to the security server 104. The RADIUS server 302 on the security server 104 may proxy to the RADIUS server 408 on the enterprise server 106. Similarly, data in the LDAP server 410 may be propagated to the LDAP server 204 on the security server 104.
  • The enterprise server 106 also comprises a one-time password (“OTP”) server 412. The OTP server 412 provides a mechanism for authentication. For instance, in one embodiment of the present invention, the enterprise server 106 uses the OTP server 412 to perform a mutual authentication process.
  • The enterprise server 106 also comprises a concentrator 414. The concentrator 414 provides remote access capability to the client 102. For instance, the concentrator 414 may serve as a means for terminating a VPN between the client 102 and enterprise server 106.
  • The enterprise server 104 shown in FIG. 4 also comprises a portal server 416. The portal server 416 may comprise a standard web server, such as IIS or Apache. The portal server 416 may provide one or more portals. For example, in one embodiment, the portal server 416 provides two portals, portal one and portal two.
  • Portal one provides a configuration interface for managing the various elements shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, including, for example, the policy server 402 and LDAP server 410. Portal two provides an interface for accessing data, such as QoS data and session data.
  • For instance, a user may use historical QoS data on portal two to determine how a particular provider is performing in terms of throughput, user connections, and other QoS metrics. Portal two may also provide real-time information, such as how many users are currently connected.
  • For instance, in one embodiment, an IT manager determines that twenty users have been rejected by a carrier in the last three minutes due to authentication failure and five users with the same user identifier are currently logged on to five different devices. The IT manager uses this information to detect a potential security problem. Portal two may also be used to set alerts as described above.
  • It should be noted that the present invention may comprise systems having a different architecture than that which is shown in FIG. 1. For example, in some systems according to the present invention, first authentication server 118 and final authentication server 126 may be combined in a single server. The system 100 shown in FIG. 1 is merely illustrative, and is used to help explain the illustrative systems and processes discussed below.
  • Illustrative Methods of Enhanced Electronic Asset Protection
  • Various methods for electronic asset protection may be implemented in embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating a process for generating and distributing an indication to activate asset protection in one embodiment of the present invention. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, a security server 104 automatically determines whether to send an indication to a client device 102 to invoke asset protection 502. The determination may be based on a variety of factors. For example, in one embodiment, a user reports that a laptop has been lost or stolen. In another embodiment, the security server 104 monitors the duration between connections between the security server 104 and the laptop, and if the duration exceeds a threshold, determines that the indication should be sent. In yet another embodiment, the security server 104 performs a statistical analysis on the probability that the laptop has been lost or stolen, and if the probability exceeds a predetermined threshold, activates asset protection. For instance, in one embodiment, the security server 104 determines that 15 failed login attempts have occurred from a client device 102. Based on this number of failed login attempts, the security server 104 determines a 90% probability that an unauthorized user is using the client device 102. If the 90% probability exceeds the threshold set for that measure, the security server 104 sends the asset protection indication to the client 102. In another embodiment, through a similar statistical mechanism, the client device 102 generates the indication without connecting to the network.
  • In the embodiment shown in FIG. 5, if the determination is made to invoke asset protection, the security server 104 generates an encryption key 504 and delivers it, along with an indication to activate asset protection, securely to the client device 102. The client device 102 uses the encryption key to encrypt data on the hard drive. The client device 102 may use any conventional encryption routine to encrypt the data. Subsequently, the encryption key can be used to recover the data on the hard drive. In other embodiments, the data on the hard drive or other storage medium is erased or otherwise destroyed; in such an embodiment, the encryption key may not be sent to the client 102.
  • In some cases, data present on the client device 102 may not be available anywhere else. For instance, a confidential customer list or proposal may be stored on the client device 102. By providing a recoverable method of disabling the client device, an embodiment of the present invention avoids the loss of this data should the laptop subsequently be found or returned.
  • If the security administrator decides to generate an encryption key, the encryption key will be stored locally 506, for instance, in a database on the security server 104. By generating and storing the encryption key on the security server 104, the client device 102 does not have to store an encryption key, which could decrypt data on its local data store. Once the encryption key is stored locally 506, the encryption key will be sent with the indication to activate asset protection 508.
  • The security server 104 may transmit the key and indication in a secure manner via a network, such as network 108. The network may comprise a wired or wireless network. In one embodiment, the key and indication are transmitted over a wired or wireless transmission control protocol/internet protocol (TCP/IP) link. In another embodiment, the security server 104 transmits the key and indication through an out-of-band communication channel, e.g., transmitting an SMS message to the client.
  • The client device 102 receives the encryption key and asset protection indication 508. The client device 102 may receive the key and indication via network 106. For instance, in one embodiment, the client device 102 initiates all network connections through the security server 104. In such an embodiment, the security server 104 is able to detect when the client device 102 connects. In another embodiment, the client device receives the key and indication as part of an SMS message. The client device 102 extracts the key and indicator from the SMS message.
  • In response to receiving the indication, the client device 102 executes an asset protection component 510. The client device shown in FIG. 2 comprises a security agent 222. The security agent 222 is responsible for carrying out the asset protection steps illustrated in FIGS. 6-9 on the client device. In some embodiments of the present invention, processes on the security server 104 or enterprise server 106 may also be executed. For instance, access to the enterprise's VPN may be disabled if a client device 102 is thought to have been stolen, lost, or otherwise compromised.
  • FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustrating a process for activating asset protection in one embodiment of the present invention. In the embodiment shown the client device 102 first receives an indication to activate asset protection 602. As described above, in some embodiments, the indication contains an encryption key.
  • The security agent 222 then activates asset protection 604. Asset protection may comprise a variety of security mechanisms. These security mechanism may be software, firmware, or hardware based or may be a combination of software, firmware, and/or hardware.
  • In the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, the security agent 222 disables the client device (102) 606. The security agent 222 may disable the client in various ways. For instance, the security agent 222 may disable communications, input/output, or even disrupt the power supply. Other methods of disabling the client device 102 are described in reference to FIG. 7.
  • The security agent 222 also disables the local data store 608. Disabling of the data store and client device 102 may occur simultaneously or sequentially. In one embodiment, portions of the client device 102 are disabled, such as the network adapter or adapters, the data store is disabled, and then the rest of the client device is disabled. As with disabling the client device 102, disabling the data store may be accomplished in various ways. For instance, the security agent 222 may preserve the data on the data store but make the data inaccessible. In one embodiment, the security agent 222 destroys all the data on the data store. In another embodiment, the local data store is made unavailable by implementing a “file system filter driver” that redirects all read/write attempts to local data stores to a location that does not exist or to a single location that contains a security message. Other methods of disabling the local data store are described in relation to FIG. 8.
  • FIG. 7 is a flowchart illustrating a process for disabling the client device 102 in one embodiment of the present invention. In the embodiment shown, the security agent 222 first blocks network access from the client device (102) 702. For instance, in one embodiment, once asset protection is activated, the client device 102 is no longer able to connect to any wired or wireless networks except to check whether or not an indication to recover the device has been sent.
  • In the embodiment shown in FIG. 7, the security agent 222 also blocks execution of one or more applications on the client device 102. For instance, the security client 102 may block access of an application that would allow a user to modify registry entries or to examine the file system. In one embodiment, the security agent 222 implements a white list, allowing the client device 102 to execute only specified applications. In another embodiment, the security agent 222 destroys the BIOS, rendering the client device 102 unusable.
  • The security agent 222 also blocks input and output ports on the client device 706. By blocking output ports, the security agent 222 stops a user from transferring information off of the client device 102. The blocked ports may be virtual or real. For instance, in one embodiment, blocking the ports comprises revising setting on a firewall. In another embodiment, blocking ports comprises turning off access to serial, parallel, USB, and other physical ports. The security agent 222 may also shut off access to CD or DVD burners. For instance, in one embodiment, blocking a physical port may stop the user from printing information, storing information on a USB drive, or otherwise moving information from the client device 102 to another device or medium. By blocking input ports, the security agent 222 stops a user from loading utility programs or data on the client device 102. For instance, if a user determines that the security agent 222 is disabling the client device 102, a user may attempt to load a program from a web site to disable the security agent 222. By disabling the input ports, the security agent 222 thwarts this threat.
  • In the embodiment shown in FIG. 7, the security agent 222 next verifies that no indication to recover the client device has been received 708. For example, in one embodiment, if an administrator determines that the client device 102 has been disabled inadvertently, the administrator can transmit a recovery indication, e.g., by sending an out-of-band communication. When the client device 102 receives the recover indication, the security agent 222 may stop the process of disabling the client device 102 and may reopen ports and allow access to applications automatically. In one embodiment, the client device 102 is returned to an administrative facility to be recovered.
  • If no recover indication is received, the security agent 222 shuts the client device 102 down 710. For instance, in one embodiment, the security agent 222 executes the normal shut down procedure for the client device 102. In another embodiment, the security agent 222 causes the client device to immediately power down without executing the normal operating system shut down procedure. As with the previously described processes, the steps shown in FIG. 7 may occur in a different order and may occur sequentially or concurrently.
  • In the embodiment shown in FIG. 6, the security agent 222 disables the client device 102 and disables a local data store. FIG. 8 is a flowchart illustrating a process for disabling the local data store in one embodiment of the present invention. In the embodiment shown, the security agent 222 receives an asset protection indication 802. For instance, if the client device 102 is stolen, the network administrator may set a flag in the policy server 402, indicating that the asset protection indication is to be sent to the client device 102.
  • In response to receiving the asset protection indication, the security agent 222 encrypts the local data store 804. The local data store may comprise a hard drive, flash memory, or any other medium capable of storing data. The security agent 222 may encrypt he data using an encryption key transmitted with the asset protection indication. In such an embodiment, the encryption key is not stored on the local data store, decreasing the chances of discovery of the key and decryption of the data store. In another embodiment, the encryption key is stored on the local data store, facilitating automated recovery of the local data store.
  • In the embodiment shown in FIG. 8, the security agent 222 next permanently deletes the contents of the local data store 806. For example, the security agent 222 may repeatedly write over the local data store with random pieces of information. The security agent 222 may also corrupt the file allocation table of the local data store, such that the data cannot be accessed without rebuilding the file allocation table.
  • In one embodiment, the security agent 222 encrypts the local data store and sets an expiration date two days after the encryption takes place. On the expiration date, the security agent 222 permanently deletes the local data store unless a recover indication is received.
  • One advantage of an embodiment of the present invention is the ability to recover data after asset protection has been executed. FIG. 9 is a flowchart illustrating a process for recovering the client device 102 in one embodiment of the present invention.
  • In the embodiment shown in FIG. 9, the client device 102 receives an indication to recover 902. The client device 102 may receive the recover indication in various ways. For instance, in one embodiment, a port in a firewall remains open after the remaining ports are blocked. A recover indication is transmitted over the open port. In another embodiment, a network administrator takes physical possession of the client device 102 and recovers it manually.
  • The security agent 222 then enables the client device (102) 904. In one embodiment, the security agent 222 enables the client device by reversing the process shown in FIG. 7.
  • The security agent 222 also enables the local data store 906. Enabling the local data store may occur before, after, or concurrently with enabling the client device 102 in various embodiments of the present invention. The client device 102 enables the local data store by decrypting the data. The security agent 222 may perform this task automatically. For example, the security agent 222 may use an encryption key stored on the local data store to perform the encryption or may receive the encryption key from the security server with the recover indication.
  • In one embodiment of the present invention, the security agent 222 is also able to report a position of the client device 102. For instance, the client device 102 may comprise a global positioning (“GPS”) card that provides the capability of providing a position, or the client device 102 may use signals from multiple signal towers to determine a position by triangulation. The position of the client device 102 may then be used to help determine whether the client device 102 and/or local data store are to be disabled.
  • General
  • The foregoing description of the embodiments, including preferred embodiments, of the invention has been presented only for the purpose of illustration and description and is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Numerous modifications and adaptations thereof will be apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

Claims (17)

  1. 1. A method comprising:
    receiving an indication to activate asset protection on a client device, the client device having a local data store; and
    activating asset protection in response to receiving the indication to activate the asset protection module, wherein asset protection comprises disabling the local data store and disabling the client device.
  2. 2. The method of claim 1, wherein disabling the local data store comprises encrypting the local data store.
  3. 3. The method of claim 1, wherein disabling the local data store comprises permanently deleting contents stored on the local data store.
  4. 4. The method of claim 1, wherein the local data store comprises a magnetic drive.
  5. 5. The method of claim 1, wherein the local data store comprises an optical drive.
  6. 6. The method of claim 1, wherein the local data store comprises a random access memory.
  7. 7. The method of claim 1, wherein disabling the client device comprises block network access from the client device.
  8. 8. The method of claim 1, wherein disabling the client device comprises blocking execution of an application on the client device.
  9. 9. The method of claim 1, wherein disabling the client device comprises blocking input/output port access on the client device.
  10. 10. The method of claim 1, wherein disabling the client device comprises:
    verifying that no indication to recover the client device has been received; and
    shutting down the client device.
  11. 11. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
    receiving an indication to recover the client device;
    enabling the local data store; and
    enabling the client device.
  12. 12. The method of claim 11, wherein receiving an indication to recover the client device comprises receiving the indication from a remote device.
  13. 13. The method of claim 11, wherein enabling the local data store comprises decrypting the local data store.
  14. 14. The method of claim 1, wherein receiving an indication to activate asset protection on a client device comprises receiving an out-of-band communication.
  15. 15. The method of claim 14, wherein the out-of-band communication comprises an SMS message.
  16. 16. A computer-readable medium on which is encoded program code, the program code comprising:
    program code for receiving an indication to activate asset protection on a client device, the client device having a local data store; and
    program code for activating asset protection in response to receiving the indication to active the asset protection module, wherein asset protection comprises disabling the local data store and disabling the client device.
  17. 17. A system comprising:
    a communications receiver operable to receive an indication to activate asset protection on a client device, the client device having a local data store; and
    a security agent in communication with the communications receiver and operable to receive the indication to activate the asset protection module form the communications receiver, and in response disable the local data store and disable the client device.
US11167837 2004-06-28 2005-06-27 Systems and methods for enhanced electronic asset protection Abandoned US20060075506A1 (en)

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US58376504 true 2004-06-28 2004-06-28
US59836404 true 2004-08-03 2004-08-03
US65212105 true 2005-02-11 2005-02-11
US65341105 true 2005-02-16 2005-02-16
US11167837 US20060075506A1 (en) 2004-06-28 2005-06-27 Systems and methods for enhanced electronic asset protection

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US11154800 Active 2028-09-04 US7760882B2 (en) 2004-06-28 2005-06-16 Systems and methods for mutual authentication of network nodes
US11167837 Abandoned US20060075506A1 (en) 2004-06-28 2005-06-27 Systems and methods for enhanced electronic asset protection
US11167744 Abandoned US20060075472A1 (en) 2004-06-28 2005-06-27 System and method for enhanced network client security
US11167747 Abandoned US20060075467A1 (en) 2004-06-28 2005-06-27 Systems and methods for enhanced network access
US11167745 Abandoned US20060072583A1 (en) 2004-06-28 2005-06-27 Systems and methods for monitoring and displaying performance metrics
US11170608 Abandoned US20060023738A1 (en) 2004-06-28 2005-06-28 Application specific connection module

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US11167747 Abandoned US20060075467A1 (en) 2004-06-28 2005-06-27 Systems and methods for enhanced network access
US11167745 Abandoned US20060072583A1 (en) 2004-06-28 2005-06-27 Systems and methods for monitoring and displaying performance metrics
US11170608 Abandoned US20060023738A1 (en) 2004-06-28 2005-06-28 Application specific connection module

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US20060064588A1 (en) 2006-03-23 application

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