Tag Archives: data breach

Data Proliferation Exposes Higher Risk of a Data Breach

Data proliferation has traditionally been measured based on the number of copies data reside on different media. For example, if data residing on an enterprise storage device was backed up to tape, the proliferation was measured by the number of tapes the same piece of data would reside. Now that backups are no longer restricted to the data center and data is no longer constrained by the originating application, this definition is due for an update.

Data proliferation should be measured based on the number of users who have access to or can view the data and that data proliferation is a primary factor in measuring the risk of a data breach. My argument here is that as sensitive, confidential or private data proliferates beyond the original copy, it increases its surface area and proportionally increases its risk of a data breach.

Using the original definition of data proliferation and an example of data storage shown below, data proliferation would include production, production copies used for disaster recovery purposes and all physical backup copies. But as you can see, data is also copied to test environments for development purposes. When factoring in the number of privileged users with access to those copies, you have a different view of proliferation and potential risk.

Data Proliferation_Data Breach Example 1

Data Proliferation of a production sensitive or private data element.

In the example, there are potentially thousands of copies of sensitive data but only a small number of users who are authorized to access the data.

In the case of test and development, this image highlights a potentially high area of risk because the number of users who could see the sensitive data is high.

Similarly with online advertising, the measure of how many people see an online ad is called an impression. If an ad was seen by 100 online users, it would have 100 impressions.

Data Proliferation measured by the total number of potential impressions_Data Breach

Data Proliferation measured as a function of number of users who have access to or can view sensitive or private data.

When you apply that same principal to data security, you could say that data proliferation is a calculation of the number of copies of a data element multiplied by the potential number of users who could physically view the data, or in other words ‘impressions’. In this second image below, rather than considering the total number of copies, what if we measured risk based on the total number of impressions?

In this case, the measure of risk is independent of the physical media the data reside on. You could take this a few steps further and add a factor based on security controls in place to prevent unauthorized access.

This is similar to how the Secure@Source team in Informatica’s newly formed Data Security Group calculates risk which I believe could truly be a game changer in data security industry.

Share
Posted in Data Privacy, Data Security | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Responsible Data Breach Reporting

databreachThis week, another reputable organization, Anthem Inc, reported it was ‘the target of  a very sophisticated external cyber attack’. But rather than be upset at Anthem, I respect their responsible data breach reporting.

In this post from Joseph R. Swedish, President and CEO, Anthem, Inc., does something that I believe all CEO’s should do in this situation.  He is straight up about what happened,  what information was breached, actions they took to plug the security hole, and services available to those impacted.

When it comes to a data breach, the worst thing you can do is ignore it or hope it will go away. This was not the case with Anthem.  Mr Swedish did the right thing and I appreciate it.

You only have one corporate reputation – and it is typically aligned with the CEO’s reputation.  When the CEO talks about the details of a data breach and empathizes with those impacted, he establishes a dialogue based on transparency and accountability.

Research that tells us 44% of healthcare and pharmaceutical organizations experienced a breach in 2014. And we know that when personal information when combined with health information is worth more on the black market because the data can be used for insurance fraud.   I expect more healthcare providers will be on the defensive this year and only hope that they follow Mr Swedish’s example when facing the music.

Share
Posted in Data Privacy, Data Security, Governance, Risk and Compliance, Healthcare | Tagged , , | 1 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.

Share
Posted in Data Governance, Data masking, Data Privacy, Data Security, Governance, Risk and Compliance | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Share
Posted in Application ILM, Data masking, Data Privacy | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Three Ingredients of Enterprise Information Management

Information Management

Enterprise Information Management

There is no shortage of buzzwords that speak to the upside and downside of data.  Big Data, Data as an Asset, the Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, One Version of the Truth, Data Breach, Black Hat Hacking, and so on. Clearly we are in the Information Age as described by Alvin Toffler in The Third Wave. But yet, most organizations are not effectively dealing with the risks of a data-driven economy nor are they getting the full benefits of all that data. They are stuck in a fire-fighting mode where each information management opportunity or problem is a one-time event that is man-handled with heroic efforts. There is no repeatability. The organization doesn’t learn from prior lessons and each business unit re-invents similar solutions. IT projects are typically late, over budget, and under delivered. There is a way to break out of this rut. (more…)

Share
Posted in CIO, Data Integration, Enterprise Data Management, Integration Competency Centers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Extending states’ focus and mission to include citizens’ digital safety and health

This is the first in a series of articles where I will take an in-depth look at how state and local governments are affected by data breaches and what they should be considering as part of their compliance, risk-avoidance and remediation plans.

Each state has one or more agencies that are focused on the lives, physical and mental health and overall welfare of their citizens. The mission statement of the Department of Public Welfare of Pennsylvania, my home state is typical, it reads “Our vision is to see Pennsylvanians living safe, healthy and independent lives. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for Pennsylvania’s individuals and families. We promote opportunities for independence through services and supports while demonstrating accountability for taxpayer resources.”

Just as in the enterprise, over the last couple of decades the way an agency deals with citizens has changed dramatically. No longer is everything paper-based and manually intensive – each state has made enormous efforts not just to automate more and more of their processes but more lately to put everything online. The combination of these two factors has led to the situation where just about everything a state knows about each citizen is stored in numerous databases, data warehouses and of course accessed through the Web.

It’s interesting that in the PA mission statement two of the three focus areas are safety and health– I am sure when written these were meant in the physical sense. We now have to consider what each state is doing to safeguard and promote the digital safety and health of its citizens. You might ask what digital safety and health means – at the highest level this is quite straightforward – it means that each state must ensure the data it holds about its’ citizens is safe from inadvertent or deliberate exposure or disclosure. It seems that each week we read about another data breach – high profile data breach infographic –  either accidental (a stolen laptop for instance) or deliberate (hacking as an example) losses of data about people – the citizens. Often that includes data contents that can be used to identify the individuals, and once an individual citizen is identified they are at risk of identity theft, credit card fraud or worse.

Of the 50 states, 46 now have a series of laws and regulations in place about when and how they need to report on data breaches or losses – this is all well and good, but is a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted – but with higher stakes as there are potentially dire consequences to the digital safety and health of their citizens.

In the next article I will look at the numerous areas that are often overlooked when states establish and execute their data protection and data privacy plans.

Share
Posted in Application ILM, Data masking, Database Archiving, Public Sector, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

People, Processes and Technology – Don’t Forget the TECHNOLOGY!

As a routine matter of delivering care, billing for services and operating their hospitals and physician practices, healthcare providers deal with patient’s protected health information all day, every day. Dealing with the data becomes routine and it’s easy for sometimes onerous security and privacy policies and procedures to be overlooked. While we’d all like that not to be the case, delivering healthcare (and getting paid for it) is a hugely complex undertaking and focusing exclusively on human processes and calling for constant vigilance and attention to detail can only go so far. (more…)

Share
Posted in Data masking, Healthcare, Professional Services | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment