Category Archives: Data Privacy

How Protected is your PHI?

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

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.

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Data Security – A Major Concern in 2015

Data Security

Data Security – A Major Concern in 2015

2014 ended with a ton of hype and expectations and some drama if you are a data security professional or business executive responsible for shareholder value.  The recent attacks on Sony Pictures by North Korea during December caught everyone’s attention, not about whether with Sony would release “The Interview” but how vulnerable we as a society are to these criminal acts.

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:

  • Download the Gartner Data Masking Magic Quadrant Report
  • Click here to learn more about Informatica’s Data Masking Solutions
  • Click here to access Informatica Dynamic Data Masking: Preventing Data Breaches with Benchmark-Proven Performance whitepaper
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Posted in Application ILM, Banking & Capital Markets, Big Data, CIO, Data masking, Data Privacy, Data Security | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The CISO Challenge: Articulating Data Worth and Security Economics

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).

CISO Challenge

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).

CISO Challenge

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.

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Informatica is a Leader in the Gartner 2014 Data Masking Magic Quadrant Three Years in a Row

Informatica a Leader in Data Masking

Informatica a Leader in Data Masking

Informatica announced this week its leadership position in Gartner 2014 Magic Quadrant for Data Masking Technology for the third year in a row. For the first time, Informatica was positioned the furthest to the right for Completeness of Vision.

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.

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IDC Life Sciences and Ponemon Research Highlights Need for New Security Measures

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.

Data security

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?

Life sciences

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!

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Just In Time For the Holidays: How The FTC Defines Reasonable Security

Reasonable Security

How The FTC Defines Reasonable Security

Recently the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP, www.privacyassociation.org ) published a white paper that analyzed the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) data security/breach enforcement. These enforcements include organizations from the finance, retail, technology and healthcare industries within the United States.

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? 

  1. Data Security Intelligence (Secure@Source coming Q2 2015), provides the ability to “…identify reasonably foreseeable risks.”
  2. Data Masking (Dynamic and Persistent Data Masking)  provides the controls to limit access of information to employees and 3rd parties.
  3. 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.”

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Considering Data Integration? Also Consider Data Security Best Practices

Considering Data Integration? Also Consider Data Security

Consider Data Security Best Practices

It seems you can’t go a week without hearing about some major data breach, many of which make front-page news.  The most recent was from the State of California, that reported a large number of data breaches in that state alone.  “The number of personal records compromised by data breaches in California surged to 18.5 million in 2013, up more than six times from the year before, according to a report published [late October 2014] by the state’s Attorney General.”

California reported a total of 167 data breaches in 2013, which is up 28 percent from the 2012.  Two major data breaches caused most of this uptick, including the Target attack that was reported in December 2013, and the LivingSocial attack that occurred in April 2013.  This year, you can add the Home Depot data breach to that list, as well as the recent breach at the US Post Office.

So, what the heck is going on?  And how does this new impact data integration?  Should we be concerned, as we place more and more data on public clouds, or within big data systems?

Almost all of these breaches were made possible by traditional systems with security technology and security operations that fell far enough behind that outside attackers found a way in.  You can count on many more of these attacks, as enterprises and governments don’t look at security as what it is; an ongoing activity that may require massive and systemic changes to make sure the data is properly protected.

As enterprises and government agencies stand up cloud-based systems, and new big data systems, either inside (private) or outside (public) of the enterprise, there are some emerging best practices around security that those who deploy data integration should understand.  Here are a few that should be on the top of your list:

First, start with Identity and Access Management (IAM) and work your way backward.  These days, most cloud and non-cloud systems are complex distributed systems.  That means IAM is is clearly the best security model and best practice to follow with the emerging use of cloud computing.

The concept is simple; provide a security approach and technology that enables the right individuals to access the right resources, at the right times, for the right reasons.  The concept follows the principle that everything and everyone gets an identity.  This includes humans, servers, APIs, applications, data, etc..  Once that verification occurs, it’s just a matter of defining which identities can access other identities, and creating policies that define the limits of that relationship.

Second, work with your data integration provider to identify solutions that work best with their technology.  Most data integration solutions address security in one way, shape, or form.  Understanding those solutions is important to secure data at rest and in flight.

Finally, splurge on monitoring and governance.  Many of the issues around this growing number of breaches exist with the system managers’ inability to spot and stop attacks.  Creative approaches to monitoring system and network utilization, as well as data access, will allow those in IT to spot most of the attacks and correct the issues before the ‘go nuclear.’  Typically, there are an increasing number of breach attempts that lead up to the complete breach.

The issue and burden of security won’t go away.  Systems will continue to move to public and private clouds, and data will continue to migrate to distributed big data types of environments.  And that means the need data integration and data security will continue to explode.

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Take Action – Reduce Your Risk of Identity Theft This Holiday Season

Reduce Your Risk of Identify Theft This Holiday Season

Reduce Your Risk of Identify Theft This Holiday Season

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.

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Time to Change Passwords…Again

Time to Change Passwords…Again

Time to Change Passwords…Again

Has everyone just forgotten about data masking?

The information security industry is reporting that more than 1.5 billion (yes, that’s with a “B”) emails and passwords have been hacked. It’s hard to tell from the article, but this could be the big one. (And just when we thought that James Bond had taken care of the Russian mafia.) From both large and small companies, nobody is safe. According to the experts the sites ranged from small e-commerce sites to Fortune 500 companies.  At this time the experts aren’t telling us who the big targets were.  We could be very unpleasantly surprised.

Most security experts admit that the bulk of the post-breach activity will be email spamming.  Insidious to be sure.  But imagine if the hackers were to get a little more intelligent about what they have.  How many individuals reuse passwords?  Experts say over 90% of consumers reuse passwords between popular sites.  And since email addresses are the most universally used “user name” on those sites, the chance of that 1.5 billion identities translating into millions of pirated activities is fairly high.

According to the recent published Ponemon study; 24% of respondents don’t know where their sensitive data is stored.  That is a staggering amount.  Further complicating the issue, the same study notes that 65% of the respondents have no comprehensive data forensics capability.  That means that consumers are more than likely to never hear from their provider that their data had been breached.  Until it is too late.

So now I guess we all get to go change our passwords again.  And we don’t know why, we just have to.  This is annoying.  But it’s not a permanent fix to have consumers constantly looking over their virtual shoulders.  Let’s talk about the enterprise sized firms first.  Ponemon indicates that 57% of respondents would like more trained data security personnel to protect data.  And the enterprise firm should have the resources to task IT personnel to protect data.  They also have the ability to license best in class technology to protect data.  There is no excuse not to implement an enterprise data masking technology.  This should be used hand in hand with network intrusion defenses to protect from end to end.

Smaller enterprises have similar options.  The same data masking technology can be leveraged on smaller scale by a smaller IT organization including the personnel to optimize the infrastructure.  Additionally, most small enterprises leverage Cloud based systems that should have the same defenses in place.  The small enterprise should bias their buying criteria in data systems for those that implement data masking technology.

Let me add a little fuel to the fire and talk about a different kind of cost.  Insurers cover Cyber Risk either as part of a Commercial General Liability policy or as a separate policy.  In 2013, insurers paid an average approaching $3.5M for each cyber breach claim.  The average per record cost of claims was over $6,000.  Now, imagine your enterprise’s slice of those 1.5 billion records.  Obviously these are claims, not premiums.  Premiums can range up to $40,000 per year for each $1M in coverage.  Insurers will typically give discounts for those companies that have demonstrated security practices and infrastructure.  I won’t belabor the point, it’s pure math at this point.

There is plenty of risk and cost to go around, to be sure.  But there is a way to stay protected with Informatica.  And now, let’s all take a few minutes to go change our passwords.  I’ll wait right here.  There, do you feel better?

For more information on Informatica’s data masking technology click here, where you can drill into dynamic and persistent data masking technology, leading in the industry.  So you should still change your passwords…but check out the industry’s leading data security technology after you do.

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Scary Times For Data Security

Scary Times For Data Security

Scary Times For Data Security

These are scary times we live in when it comes to data security. And the times are even scarier for today’s retailers, government agencies, financial institutions, and healthcare organizations. The internet has become a battlefield. Criminals are looking to steal trade secrets and personal data for financial gain. Terrorists seek to steal data for political gain. Both are after your Personally Identifiable Information, like your name, account numbers, social security number, date of birth, ID’s and passwords.

How are they accomplishing this?  A new generation of hackers has learned to reverse engineer popular software programs (e.g. Windows, Outlook Java, etc.) in order to find so called “holes”. Once those holes are exploited, the hackers develop “bugs” that infiltrate computer systems, search for sensitive data and return it to the bad guys. These bugs are then sold in the black market to the highest bidder. When successful, these hackers can wreak havoc across the globe.

I recently read a Time Magazine article titled “World War Zero: How Hackers Fight to Steal Your Secrets.” The article discussed a new generation of software companies made up of former hackers. These firms help other software companies by identifying potential security holes, before they can be used in malicious exploits.

This constant battle between good (data and software security firms) and bad (smart, young, programmers looking to make a quick/big buck) is happening every day. Unfortunately, the average consumer (you and I) are the innocent victims of this crazy and costly war. As a consumer in today’s digital and data-centric age, I worry when I see these headlines of ongoing data breaches from the Targets of the world to my local bank down the street. I wonder not “if” but “when” I will become the next victim.  According to the Ponemon institute, the average cost to a company was $3.5 million in US dollars and 15 percent more than what it cost last year.

As a 20 year software industry veteran, I’ve worked with many firms across global financial services industry. As a result, my concerned about data security exceed those of the average consumer. Here are the reasons for this:

  1. Everything is Digital: I remember the days when ATM machines were introduced, eliminating the need to wait in long teller lines. Nowadays, most of what we do with our financial institutions is digital and online whether on our mobile devices to desktop browsers. As such every interaction and transaction is creating sensitive data that gets disbursed across tens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of databases and systems in these firms.
  2. The Big Data Phenomenon: I’m not talking about sexy next generation analytic applications that promise to provide the best answer to run your business. What I am talking about is the volume of data that is being generated and collected from the countless number of computer systems (on-premise and in the cloud) that run today’s global financial services industry.
  3. Increase use of Off-Shore and On-Shore Development: Outsourcing technology projects to offshore development firms has be leverage off shore development partners to offset their operational and technology costs. With new technology initiatives.

Now here is the hard part.  Given these trends and heightened threats, do the companies I do business with know where the data resides that they need to protect?  How do they actually protect sensitive data when using it to support new IT projects both in-house or by off-shore development partners?   You’d be amazed what the truth is. 

According to the recent Ponemon Institute study “State of Data Centric Security” that surveyed 1,587 Global IT and IT security practitioners in 16 countries:

  • Only 16 percent of the respondents believe they know where all sensitive structured data is located and a very small percentage (7 percent) know where unstructured data resides.
  • Fifty-seven percent of respondents say not knowing where the organization’s sensitive or confidential data is located keeps them up at night.
  • Only 19 percent say their organizations use centralized access control management and entitlements and 14 percent use file system and access audits.

Even worse, those surveyed said that not knowing where sensitive and confidential information resides is a serious threat and the percentage of respondents who believe it is a high priority in their organizations. Seventy-nine percent of respondents agree it is a significant security risk facing their organizations. But a much smaller percentage (51 percent) believes that securing and/or protecting data is a high priority in their organizations.

I don’t know about you but this is alarming and worrisome to me.  I think I am ready to reach out to my banker and my local retailer and let him know about my concerns and make sure they ask and communicate my concerns to the top of their organization. In today’s globally and socially connected world, news travels fast and given how hard it is to build trustful customer relationships, one would think every business from the local mall to Wall St should be asking if they are doing what they need to identify and protect their number one digital asset – Their data.

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