Category Archives: Data masking
I live in a very small town in Maine. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my privacy. Some would say that by living in a small town, you give up your right to privacy because everyone knows what everyone else is doing. Living here is a choice – for me to improve my family’s quality of life. Sharing all of the details of my life – not so much.
When I go to my doctor (who also happens to be a parent from my daughter’s school), I fully expect that any sort of information that I share with him, or that he obtains as a result of lab tests or interviews, or care that he provides is not available for anyone to view. On the flip side, I want researchers to be able to take my lab information combined with my health history in order to do research on the effectiveness of certain medications or treatment plans.
As a result of this dichotomy, Congress (in 1996) started to address governance regarding the transmission of this type of data. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a Federal law that sets national standards for how health care plans, health care clearinghouses, and most health care providers protect the privacy of a patient’s health information. With certain exceptions, the Privacy Rule protects a subset of individually identifiable health information, known as protected health information or PHI, that is held or maintained by covered entities or their business associates acting for the covered entity. PHI is any information held by a covered entity which concerns health status, provision of health care, or payment for health care that can be linked to an individual.
Many payers have this type of data in their systems (perhaps in a Claims Administration system), and have the need to share data between organizational entities. Do you know if PHI data is being shared outside of the originating system? Do you know if PHI is available to resources that have no necessity to access this information? Do you know if PHI data is being shared outside your organization?
If you can answer yes to each of these questions – fantastic. You are well ahead of the curve. If not – you need to start considering solutions that can
- Identify PHI in all of your data streams
- Monitor and track the flow of this data throughout your organization and
- Mask this data if it is being shared with resources that don’t need to be able to identify the individual.
I want to researchers to have access to medically relevant data so they can find the cures to some horrific diseases. I want to feel comfortable sharing health information with my doctor. I want to feel comfortable that my health insurance company is respecting my privacy. Now to get my kids to stop oversharing.
I have to admit, I was one of those who saw the movie and found the film humorous to say the least and can see why a desperate regime like North Korea would not want their leader admitting they love margarita’s and Katy Perry. What concerned me about the whole event was whether these unwanted security breaches were now just a fact of life? As a disclaimer, I have no affinity over the downfall of the North Korean government however what transpired was fascinating and amazing that companies like Sony continue to struggle to protect sensitive data despite being one of the largest companies in the world.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were 761 reported data security breaches in 2014 impacting over 83 million breached records across industries and geographies with B2B and B2C retailers leading the pack with 79.2% of all breaches. Most of these breaches originated through the internet via malicious WORMS and viruses purposely designed to identify and rely back sensitive information including credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and social security information used by criminals to wreak havoc and significant financial losses to merchants and financial institutions. According to the 2014 Ponemon Institute Research study:
- The average cost of cyber-crime per company in the US was $12.7 million this year, according to the Ponemon report, and US companies on average are hit with 122 successful attacks per year.
- Globally, the average annualized cost for the surveyed organizations was $7.6 million per year, ranging from $0.5 million to $61 million per company. Interestingly, small organizations have a higher per-capita cost than large ones ($1,601 versus $437), the report found.
- Some industries incur higher costs in a breach than others, too. Energy and utility organizations incur the priciest attacks ($13.18 million), followed closely by financial services ($12.97 million). Healthcare incurs the fewest expenses ($1.38 million), the report says.
Despite all the media attention around these awful events last year, 2015 does not seem like it’s going to get any better. According to CNBC just this morning, Morgan Stanley reported a data security breach where they had fired an employee who it claims stole account data for hundreds of thousands of its wealth management clients. Stolen information for approximately 900 of those clients was posted online for a brief period of time. With so much to gain from this rich data, businesses across industries have a tough battle ahead of them as criminals are getting more creative and desperate to steal sensitive information for financial gain. According to a Forrester Research, the top 3 breach activities included:
- Inadvertent misuse by insider (36%)
- Loss/theft of corporate asset (32%)
- Phishing (30%)
Given the growth in data volumes fueled by mobile, social, cloud, and electronic payments, the war against data breaches will continue to grow bigger and uglier for firms large and small. As such, Gartner predicts investments in Information Security Solutions will grow further 8.2 percent in 2015 vs. 2014 reaching $76.9+ billion globally. Furthermore, by 2018, more than half of organizations will use security services firms that specialize in data protection, security risk management and security infrastructure management to enhance their security postures.
Like any war, you have to know your enemy and what you are defending. In the war against data breaches, this starts with knowing where your sensitive data is before you can effectively defend against any attack. According to the Ponemon Institute, 18% of firms who were surveyed said they knew where their structured sensitive data was located where as the rest were not sure. 66% revealed that if would not be able to effectively know if they were attacked. Even worse, 47% were NOT confident at having visibility into users accessing sensitive or confidential information and that 48% of those surveyed admitted to a data breach of some kind in the last 12 months.
In closing, the responsibilities of today’s information security professional from Chief Information Security Officers to Security Analysts are challenging and growing each day as criminals become more sophisticated and desperate at getting their hands on one of your most important assets….your data. As your organizations look to invest in new Information Security solutions, make sure you start with solutions that allow you to identify where your sensitive data is to help plan an effective data security strategy both to defend your perimeter and sensitive data at the source. How prepared are you?
For more information about Informatica Data Security Solutions:
A few years ago the former eBay’s CISO, Dave Cullinane, led a sobering coaching discussion on how to articulate and communicate the value of a security solution and its economics to a CISO’s CxO peers.
Why would I blog about such old news? Because it was a great and timeless idea. And in this age of the ‘Great Data Breach’, where CISOs need all the help they can get, I thought I would share it with y’all.
Dave began by describing how to communicate the impact of an attack from malware such as Aurora, spearfishing, stuxnet, hacktivision, and so on… versus the investment required to prevent the attack. If you are an online retailer and your web server goes down because of a major denial of service attack, what does that cost the business? How much revenue is lost every minute that site is offline? Enough to put you out of business? See the figure below that illustrates how to approach this conversation.
If the impact of a breach and the risk of losing business is high and the investment in implementing a solution is relatively low, the investment decision is an obvious one (represented by the yellow area in the upper left corner).
However, it isn’t always this easy, is it? When determining what your company’s brand and reputation worth, how do you develop a compelling case?
Another dimension Dave described is communicating the economics of a solution that could prevent an attack based on the probability that the attack would occur (see next figure below).
For example, consider an attack that could influence stock prices? This is a complex scenario that is probably less likely to occur on a frequent basis and would require a sophisticated multidimensional solution with an integrated security analytics solution to correlate multiple events back to a single source. This might place the discussion in the middle blue box, or the ‘negotiation zone’. This is where the CISO needs to know what the CxO’s risk tolerances are and articulate value in terms of the ‘coin of the realm’.
Finally, stay on top of what the business is cooking up for new initiatives that could expose or introduce new risks. For example, is marketing looking to spin up a data warehouse on Amazon Redshift? Anyone on the analytics team tinkering with Hadoop in the cloud? Is development planning to outsource application test and development activities to offshore systems integrators? If you are participating in any of these activities, make sure your CISO isn’t the last to know when a ‘Breach Happens’!
To learn more about ways you can mitigate risk and maintain data privacy compliance, check out the latest Gartner Data Masking Magic Quadrant.
In the report, Gartner cites. “Global-scale scandals around sensitive data losses have highlighted the need for effective data protection, especially from insider attacks. Data masking, which is focused on protecting data from insiders and outsiders, is a must-have technology in enterprises’ and governments’ security portfolios.”
Organizations realize that data protection must be hardened to protect against the inevitable breach; originating from either internal or external threats. Data masking covers gaps in data protection in production and non-production environments that can be exploited by attackers.
Informatica customers are elevating the importance of data security initiatives in 2015 given the high exposure of recent breaches and the shift from just stealing identities and intellectual property, to politically charged platforms. This raises the concern that existing security controls are insufficient and a more data-centric security approach is necessary.
Recent enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission in the US and emerging legislation worldwide has clearly indicated that sensitive data access and sharing should be tightly controlled; this is the strength of data masking.
Data Masking de-identifies and/or de-sensitizes private and confidential data by hiding it from those who are unauthorized to access it. Other terms for data masking include data obfuscation, sanitization, scrambling, de-identification, and anonymization.
To learn more, Download the Gartner Magic Quadrant Data Masking Report now. And visit the Informatica website for data masking product information.
About the Magic Quadrant
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
The Healthcare and Life Sciences industry has demonstrated its ability to take advantage of data to fuel research, explore new ways to cure life threatening diseases, and save lives. With the adoption of technology innovation especially in the mobile technology segment, this industry will need to find a balance between investments and risk.
ModernMedicine.com published an article in May, 2014 stating how analysts worry that a wide-scale security breach could occur in healthcare and pharmaceuticals industry this year. The piece calls out that this industry category ranked the lowest in an S&P500 cyber health study because of its high volume of incidents and slow response rates.
In the Ponemon Institute’s research, The State of Data Centric Security, respondents from the Healthcare and Life Sciences stated the data they considered most at risk was customer, consumer and patient record data. Intellectual Property, Business Intelligence and Classified Data responses ranked a close second.
In an Informatica webinar with Alan Louie, Research Analyst from IDC Health Insights (@IDCPharmaGuru), we discussed his research on ‘Changing Times in the Life Sciences – Enabled and Empowered by Tech Innovation’. The megatrends of cloud, mobile, social networks and Big Data analytics are all moving in a positive direction with various phases of adoption. Mobile technologies tops the list of IT priorities – likely because of the productivity gains that can be achieved by mobile devices and applications. Security/Risk Management technologies listed as the second-highest priority.
When we asked Security Professionals in Life Sciences in the Ponemon Survey, ‘What keeps you up at night?’, the top answer was ‘migrating to new mobile platforms’. The reason I call this factoid out is that all other industry categories ranked ‘not knowing where sensitive data resides’ as the biggest concern. Why is Life Sciences different from other industries?
One reason could be the intense scrutiny over Intellectual Property protection and HIPPA compliance has already shone a light on where sensitive data reside. Mobile makes it difficult to track and contain a potential breach given that cell phones are the number 1 item left behind in taxi cabs.
With the threat of a major breach on the horizon, and the push to leverage technology such as mobile and cloud, it is evident that the investments in security and risk management need to focus on the data itself – rather than tie it to a specific technology or platform.
Enter Data-Centric Security. The call to action is to consider applying a new approach to the information security paradigm that emphasizes the security of the data itself rather than the security of networks or applications. Informatica recently published an eBook ‘Data-Centric Security eBook New Imperatives for a New Age of Data’. Download it, read it. In an industry with so much at stake, we highlight the need for new security measures such as these. Do you agree?
I encourage your comments and open the dialogue!
From this analysis in “What’s Reasonable Security? A Moving Target,” IAPP extrapolated the best practices from the FTC’s enforcement actions.
While the white paper and article indicate that “reasonable security” is a moving target it does provide recommendations that will help organizations access and baseline their current data security efforts. Interesting is the focus on data centric security, from overall enterprise assessment to the careful control of access of employees and 3rd parties. Here some of the recommendations derived from the FTC’s enforcements that call for Data Centric Security:
- Perform assessments to identify reasonably foreseeable risks to the security, integrity, and confidentiality of personal information collected and stored on the network, online or in paper files.
- Limited access policies curb unnecessary security risks and minimize the number and type of network access points that an information security team must monitor for potential violations.
- Limit employee access to (and copying of) personal information, based on employee’s role.
- Implement and monitor compliance with policies and procedures for rendering information unreadable or otherwise secure in the course of disposal. Securely disposed information must not practicably be read or reconstructed.
- Restrict third party access to personal information based on business need, for example, by restricting access based on IP address, granting temporary access privileges, or similar procedures.
How does Data Centric Security help organizations achieve this inferred baseline?
- Data Security Intelligence (Secure@Source coming Q2 2015), provides the ability to “…identify reasonably foreseeable risks.”
- Data Masking (Dynamic and Persistent Data Masking) provides the controls to limit access of information to employees and 3rd parties.
- Data Archiving provides the means for the secure disposal of information.
Other data centric security controls would include encryption for data at rest/motion and tokenization for securing payment card data. All of the controls help organizations secure their data, whether a threat originates internally or externally. And based on the never ending news of data breaches and attacks this year, it is a matter of when, not if your organization will be significantly breached.
For 2015, “Reasonable Security” will require ongoing analysis of sensitive data and the deployment of reciprocal data centric security controls to ensure that the organizations keep pace with this “Moving Target.”
What is our personal information worth?
With this 2014 holiday season rolling into full swing, Americans will spend more than $600 Billion, a 4.1% increase from last year. According to the Credit Union National Association, a poll showed that 45% of credit and debit card users will think twice about how they shop and pay given the tens of millions of shoppers impacted by breaches. Stealing identities is a lucrative pastime for those with ulterior motives. The Black Market pays between $10-$12 per stolen record. Yet when enriched with health data, the value is as high as $50 per record because it can be used for insurance fraud.
Are the thieves getting smarter or are we getting sloppy?
With ubiquitous access to technology globally, general acceptance to online shopping, and the digitization of health records, there is more data online with more opportunities to steal our data than ever before. Unfortunately for shoppers, 2013 was known as ‘the year of the retailer breach’ according to the Verizon’s 2014 data breach report. Unfortunately for patients, Healthcare providers were most noted for the highest percentage of losing protected healthcare data.
So what can we do to be a smarter and safer consumer?
No one wants to bank roll the thieves’ illegal habits. One way would be to regress 20 years, drive to the mall and make our purchases cash in hand or go back to completely paper-based healthcare. Alternatively, here are a few suggestions to avoid being on the next list of victims:
1. Avoid irresponsible vendors and providers by being an educated consumer
Sites like The Identify Theft Resource Center and the US Department of Health and Human Services expose the latest breaches in retail and healthcare respectively. Look up who you are buying from and receiving care from and make sure they are doing everything they can to protect your data. If they didn’t respond in a timely fashion, tried to hide the breach, or didn’t implement new controls to protect your data, avoid them. Or take your chances.
2. Expect to be hacked, plan for it
Most organizations you trust with your personal information have already experienced a breach. In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by the Ponemon Group sponsored by Informatica, 72% of organizations polled experienced a breach within the past 12 months; more than 20% had 2 or more breaches in the same timeframe. When setting passwords, avoid using words or phrases that you publicly share on Facebook. When answering security questions, most security professionals suggest that you lie!
3. If it really bothers you, be vocal and engage
Many states are invoking legislation to make organizations accountable for notifying individuals when a breach occurs. For example, Florida enacted FIPA – the Florida Information Protection Act – on July 1, 2014 that stipulates that all breaches, large or small, are subject to notification. For every day that a breach goes undocumented, FIPA stipulates $1,000 per day penalty up to an annual limit of $500,000.
In conclusion, as the holiday shopping season approaches, now is the perfect time for you to ensure that you’re making the best – and most informed – purchasing decisions. You have the ability to take matters into your own hands; keep your data secure this year and every year.
To learn more about Informatica Data Security products, visit our Data Privacy solutions website.
Which Method of Controls Should You Use to Protect Sensitive Data in Databases and Enterprise Applications? Part II
- Do you need to protect data at rest (in storage), during transmission, and/or when accessed?
- Do some privileged users still need the ability to view the original sensitive data or does sensitive data need to be obfuscated at all levels?
- What is the granularity of controls that you need?
- Datafile level
- Table level
- Row level
- Field / column level
- Cell level
- Do you need to be able to control viewing vs. modification of sensitive data?
- Do you need to maintain the original characteristics / format of the data (e.g. for testing, demo, development purposes)?
- Is response time latency / performance of high importance for the application? This can be the case for mission critical production applications that need to maintain response times in the order of seconds or sub-seconds.
In order to help you determine which method of control is appropriate for your requirements, the following table provides a comparison of the different methods and their characteristics.
A combination of protection method may be appropriate based on your requirements. For example, to protect data in non-production environments, you may want to use persistent data masking to ensure that no one has access to the original production data, since they don’t need to. This is especially true if your development and testing is outsourced to third parties. In addition, persistent data masking allows you to maintain the original characteristics of the data to ensure test data quality.
In production environments, you may want to use a combination of encryption and dynamic data masking. This is the case if you would like to ensure that all data at rest is protected against unauthorized users, yet you need to protect sensitive fields only for certain sets of authorized or privileged users, but the rest of your users should be able to view the data in the clear.
The best method or combination of methods will depend on each scenario and set of requirements for your environment and organization. As with any technology and solution, there is no one size fits all.
Which Method of Controls Should You Use to Protect Sensitive Data in Databases and Enterprise Applications? Part I
- Which types of data should be protected?
- Which data should be classified as “sensitive?”
- Where is this sensitive data located?
- Which groups of users should have access to this data?
Because these questions come up frequently, it seems ideal to share a few guidelines on this topic.
When protecting the confidentiality and integrity of data, the first level of defense is Authentication and access control. However, data with higher levels of sensitivity or confidentiality may require additional levels of protection, beyond regular authentication and authorization methods.
There are a number of control methods for securing sensitive data available in the market today, including:
- Persistent (Static) Data Masking
- Dynamic Data Masking
- Retention management and purging
Encryption is a cryptographic method of encoding data. There are generally, two methods of encryption: symmetric (using single secret key) and asymmetric (using public and private keys). Although there are methods of deciphering encrypted information without possessing the key, a good encryption algorithm makes it very difficult to decode the encrypted data without knowledge of the key. Key management is usually a key concern with this method of control. Encryption is ideal for mass protection of data (e.g. an entire data file, table, partition, etc.) against unauthorized users.
Persistent or static data masking obfuscates data at rest in storage. There is usually no way to retrieve the original data – the data is permanently masked. There are multiple techniques for masking data, including: shuffling, substitution, aging, encryption, domain-specific masking (e.g. email address, IP address, credit card, etc.), dictionary lookup, randomization, etc. Depending on the technique, there may be ways to perform reverse masking – this should be used sparingly. Persistent masking is ideal for cases where all users should not see the original sensitive data (e.g. for test / development environments) and field level data protection is required.
Dynamic data masking de-identifies data when it is accessed. The original data is still stored in the database. Dynamic data masking (DDM) acts as a proxy between the application and database and rewrites the user / application request against the database depending on whether the user has the privilege to view the data or not. If the requested data is not sensitive or the user is a privileged user who has the permission to access the sensitive data, then the DDM proxy passes the request to the database without modification, and the result set is returned to the user in the clear. If the data is sensitive and the user does not have the privilege to view the data, then the DDM proxy rewrites the request to include a masking function and passes the request to the database to execute. The result is returned to the user with the sensitive data masked. Dynamic data masking is ideal for protecting sensitive fields in production systems where application changes are difficult or disruptive to implement and performance / response time is of high importance.
Tokenization substitutes a sensitive data element with a non-sensitive data element or token. The first generation tokenization system requires a token server and a database to store the original sensitive data. The mapping from the clear text to the token makes it very difficult to reverse the token back to the original data without the token system. The existence of a token server and database storing the original sensitive data renders the token server and mapping database as a potential point of security vulnerability, bottleneck for scalability, and single point of failure. Next generation tokenization systems have addressed these weaknesses. However, tokenization does require changes to the application layer to tokenize and detokenize when the sensitive data is accessed. Tokenization can be used in production systems to protect sensitive data at rest in the database store, when changes to the application layer can be made relatively easily to perform the tokenization / detokenization operations.
Retention management and purging is more of a data management method to ensure that data is retained only as long as necessary. The best method of reducing data privacy risk is to eliminate the sensitive data. Therefore, appropriate retention, archiving, and purging policies should be applied to reduce the privacy and legal risks of holding on to sensitive data for too long. Retention management and purging is a data management best practices that should always be put to use.
Recent corporate data security challenges require companies to ask hard questions about enterprise readiness:
1) How do you know if your firm is next in line?
2) How well will your Information Technology team respond to an attempted breach?
Is your firm ready?
Over the last year, a number of high profile data security breaches have taken place at major US corporations. However, as a business person, how do you know the answers to the above questions. Do you know what is at risk? And as well with big data gathering so much attention these days, isn’t it kind of like putting all the eggs into one basket? According to the management scholar, Theodore Levitt, part of being a manager is the ability to ask questions. My goal today is to arm business managers with the questions to ask so they can determine the answers to both of the above questions.
Is your Big Data secure?
Big Data is all the buzz today. How safe are your Big Data spaces? Do you know what is going into each of them? Judith Hurwitz, the President and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, says that she worries about big data security. Judith even suggests that big data “introduces security risks into the company, unintended consequences can endanger the company”. According to Judith, these risks come in two forms:
1) Big data sources can contain viruses as well as other forms of business risk
2) Big data lakes if unprotected represent a major business risk from hacking
Clearly, protecting your big data comprehensively requires diligence, including data encryption. But just remember, big data may seem like a science project in the back room, but it puts in one place a significant volume of data that could damage your enterprise if exposed to the outside world.
Do you need better tools or better business processes?
While many of the discussions about recent hacks have focused on the importance of having the right and up to date tools in place, it is just as important to have the right business processes in place if you want to minimize the possibility of a breach and minimizes losses when a breach occurs.
From an accessibility and security prospective, security processes look at the extent to which access to information is restricted appropriately to authorized parties. Next, from an information management perspective, they should consider the entire information life cycle. Information should be protected during all phases of its life cycle. Security should start at the information planning phase, and for many, this implies different protection mechanisms for storing, sharing, and disposition of information.
To determine what questions a business person should be asking their security professionals, I went to COBIT 5. For those who do not know, COBIT is the standard your auditors use to evaluate your company’s technology per Sarbanes Oxley. Understanding what it recommends matters because CFOs that we have talked to say that after the recent hacks they believe they are about to get increased scrutiny from their auditors. If you want to understand what auditors will look for, you should study COBIT 5. COBIT 5 has even linked its security policy guidance to what your IT security management team should be running against—one more term, ISO/IEC 27000 standard. Want to impress your security management professionals? Ask them whether they are in compliance with ISO/IEC 27000.
Good information security requires policies and procedures
Now, let’s explore what COBIT 5 recommends for information governance and security. The first thing it recommends is that good information security requires policies and procedures are created and put in place. This sounds pretty reasonable. However, COBIT next insists—something that we all know is true as managers– enterprise culture and ethics are critical to making “security policies and procedures effective”.
What metrics then should business people use to judge whether their firm is managing information security appropriately. COBIT 5 suggest that you look for two things right off the top.
1) How recently did your IT organization conduct a risk assessment for the services that it provides?
2) Does your IT organization have a current security plan which is accepted and communication throughout the enterprise?
For the first, it is important that you then ask what percentage of IT services and programs are covered by a risk assessment and what percentage of security incidents taking place were not identified in the risk assessment. The first question tells you how actively your IT is managing security and the second tells you whether there a gaps and risks. Your goal here should be to ensure that “IT-related enterprise risk does not exceed your risk appetite and your risk tolerance”.
With regards to the security plan, you should be asking your IT leadership (your CIO or CISO) about the number of key security roles that have been clearly defined and about the number of security related incidents over time. As important, find out how many security solutions currently deviate from plan? A timely review of these could clearly impact your probability of getting your systems hacked.
As a manager, you know that teams need policies and procedures to limit errors from happening and to manage them when they occur. So ask what are the procedures for managing through a security event? As important, ask about the percentage of services are confirmed to have alignment with the security plan. At the same time, you want to know about the number of security incidents caused by non-adherence to the security plan. For the future, you want to make sure as well that all new solutions being developed have from launch confirmed their alignment to the security plan.
Other critical things to consider include the number of security incidents that have caused financial loss, business disruption, and public embarrassment. This of course is a big one that should be small in number. Then ask about the number of IT services with outstanding security requirements? Next, what is the time required to grant, change, and remove access privileges and the frequency of security assessment against the latest standards and guidelines.
Security is one area that you really need IT-Business Alignment. It is important, as a business professional, that you do your best to ensure that IT builds policies and procedures that conform to your corporate risk appetite. As well you need to assure that the governance, policies, and procedures for your IT organization run against are kept current and update. This includes ensuring that the data is governed from end to end in the IT environment.