Tag Archives: Data Privacy

Takeaways from the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit (2014)

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit. At this event, Gartner analysts and security industry experts meet to discuss the latest trends, advances, best practices and research in the space. At the event, I had the privilege of connecting with customers, peers and partners. I was also excited to learn about changes that are shaping the data security landscape.

Here are some of the things I learned at the event:

  • Security continues to be a top CIO priority in 2014. Security is well-aligned with other trends such as big data, IoT, mobile, cloud, and collaboration. According to Gartner, the top CIO priority area is BI/analytics. Given our growing appetite for all things data and our increasing ability to mine data to increase top-line growth, this top billing makes perfect sense. The challenge is to protect the data assets that drive value for the company and ensure appropriate privacy controls.
  • Mobile and data security are the top focus for 2014 spending in North America according to Gartner’s pre-conference survey. Cloud rounds out the list when considering worldwide spending results.
  • Rise of the DRO (Digital Risk Officer). Fortunately, those same market trends are leading to an evolution of the CISO role to a Digital Security Officer and, longer term, a Digital Risk Officer. The DRO role will include determination of the risks and security of digital connectivity. Digital/Information Security risk is increasingly being reported as a business impact to the board.
  • Information management and information security are blending. Gartner assumes that 40% of global enterprises will have aligned governance of the two programs by 2017. This is not surprising given the overlap of common objectives such as inventories, classification, usage policies, and accountability/protection.
  • Security methodology is moving from a reactive approach to compliance-driven and proactive (risk-based) methodologies. There is simply too much data and too many events for analysts to monitor. Organizations need to understand their assets and their criticality. Big data analytics and context-aware security is then needed to reduce the noise and false positive rates to a manageable level. According to Gartner analyst Avivah Litan, ”By 2018, of all breaches that are detected within an enterprise, 70% will be found because they used context-aware security, up from 10% today.”

I want to close by sharing the identified Top Digital Security Trends for 2014

  • Software-defined security
  • Big data security analytics
  • Intelligent/Context-aware security controls
  • Application isolation
  • Endpoint threat detection and response
  • Website protection
  • Adaptive access
  • Securing the Internet of Things
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Posted in Big Data, CIO, Data Governance, Data Privacy, Data Security, Governance, Risk and Compliance | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Data Obfuscation and Data Value – Can They Coexist?

Data Obfuscation and Data Value

Data Obfuscation and Data Value

Data is growing exponentially. New technologies are at the root of the growth. With the advent of big data and machine data, enterprises have amassed amounts of data never before seen. Consider the example of Telecommunications companies. Telco has always collected large volumes of call data and customer data. However, the advent of 4G services, combined with the explosion of the mobile internet, has created data volume Telco has never seen before.

In response to the growth, organizations seek new ways to unlock the value of their data. Traditionally, data has been analyzed for a few key reasons. First, data was analyzed in order to identify ways to improve operational efficiency. Secondly, data was analyzed to identify opportunities to increase revenue.

As data expands, companies have found new uses for these growing data sets. Of late, organizations have started providing data to partners, who then sell the ‘intelligence’ they glean from within the data. Consider a coffee shop owner whose store doesn’t open until 8 AM. This owner would be interested in learning how many target customers (Perhaps people aged 25 to 45) walk past the closed shop between 6 AM and 8 AM. If this number is high enough, it may make sense to open the store earlier.

As much as organizations prioritize the value of data, customers prioritize the privacy of data. If an organization loses a customer’s data, it results in a several costs to the organization. These costs include:

  • Damage to the company’s reputation
  • A reduction of customer trust
  • Financial costs associated with the investigation of the loss
  • Possible governmental fines
  • Possible restitution costs

To guard against these risks, data that organizations provide to their partners must be obfuscated. This protects customer privacy. However, data that has been obfuscated is often of a lower value to the partner. For example, if the date of birth of those passing the coffee shop has been obfuscated, the store owner may not be able to determine if those passing by are potential customers. When data is obfuscated without consideration of the analysis that needs to be done, analysis results may not be correct.

There is away to provide data privacy for the customer while simultaneously monetizing enterprise data. To do so, organizations must allow trusted partners to define masking generalizations. With sufficient data masking governance, it is indeed possible for data obfuscation and data value to coexist.

Currently, there is a great deal of research around ensuring that obfuscated data is both protected and useful. Techniques and algorithms like ‘k-Anonymity’ and ‘l-Diversity’ ensure that sensitive data is safe and secure. However, these techniques have have not yet become mainstream. Once they do, the value of big data will be unlocked.

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Posted in Application ILM, B2B Data Exchange, Data masking, Data Privacy, Data Security, Telecommunications | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Power and Security of Exponential Data

The Power and Security of Exponential Data

The Power and Security of Exponential Data

I recently heard a couple different analogies for data. The first is that data is the “new oil.” Data is a valuable resource that powers global business. Consequently, it is targeted for theft by hackers. The thinking is this: People are not after your servers, they’re after your data.

The other comparison is that data is like solar power. Like solar power, data is abundant. In addition, it’s getting cheaper and more efficient to harness. The juxtaposition of these images captures the current sentiment around data’s potential to improve our lives in many ways. For this to happen, however, corporations and data custodians must effectively balance the power of data with security and privacy concerns.

Many people have a preconception of security as an obstacle to productivity. Actually, good security practitioners understand that the purpose of security is to support the goals of the company by allowing the business to innovate and operate more quickly and effectively. Think back to the early days of online transactions; many people were not comfortable banking online or making web purchases for fear of fraud and theft. Similar fears slowed early adoption of mobile phone banking and purchasing applications. But security ecosystems evolved, concerns were addressed, and now Gartner estimates that worldwide mobile payment transaction values surpass $235B in 2013. An astute security executive once pointed out why cars have brakes: not to slow us down, but to allow us to drive faster, safely.

The pace of digital change and the current proliferation of data is not a simple linear function – it’s growing exponentially – and it’s not going to slow down. I believe this is generally a good thing. Our ability to harness data is how we will better understand our world. It’s how we will address challenges with critical resources such as energy and water. And it’s how we will innovate in research areas such as medicine and healthcare. And so, as a relatively new Informatica employee coming from a security background, I’m now at a crossroads of sorts. While Informatica’s goal of “Putting potential to work” resonates with my views and helps customers deliver on the promise of this data growth, I know we need to have proper controls in place. I’m proud to be part of a team building a new intelligent, context-aware approach to data security (Secure@SourceTM).

We recently announced Secure@SourceTM during InformaticaWorld 2014. One thing that impressed me was how quickly attendees (many of whom have little security background) understood how they could leverage data context to improve security controls, privacy, and data governance for their organizations. You can find a great introduction summary of Secure@SourceTM here.

I will be sharing more on Secure@SourceTM and data security in general, and would love to get your feedback. If you are an Informatica customer and would like to help shape the product direction, we are recruiting a select group of charter customers to drive and provide feedback for the first release. Customers who are interested in being a charter customer should register and send email to SecureCustomers@informatica.com.

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How Can CEOs Protect Customer Data And Their Own Jobs?

Data Security

Data-centric security

Recently, a number of high-profile data breaches have drawn attention to the impact that compromised data can have on a business. When customer data is breached, the consequences can include:

  • A loss of customer trust
  • Revenue shortfalls
  • A plummeting stock price
  • C-level executives losing their jobs

As a result, Data security and privacy has become a key topic of discussion, not just in IT meetings, but in the media and the boardroom.

Preventing access to sensitive data has become more complex than ever before. There are new potential entry points that IT never previously considered. These new options go beyond typical BYOD user devices like smartphones and tablets. Today’s entry points can be much smaller: Things like HVAC controllers, office polycoms and temperature control systems. 

So what can organizations do to combat this increasing complexity? Traditional data security practices focus on securing both the perimeter and the endpoints. However, these practices are clearly no longer working and no longer manageable. Not only is the number and type of devices expanding, but the perimeter itself is no longer present. As companies increasingly outsource, off-shore and move operations to the cloud, it is no longer possible fence the perimeters and to keep intruders out. Because 3rd parties often require some form of access, even trusted user credentials may fall into the hands of malicious intruders. 

Data security requires a new approach. It must use policies to follow the data and to protect it, regardless of where it is located and where it moves. Informatica is responding to this need. We are leveraging our market leadership and domain expertise in data management and security. We are defining a new data security offering and category.  This week, we unveiled our entry into the Data Security market at our Informatica World conference. Our new security offering, Secure@Source™ will allow enterprises to discover, detect and protect sensitive data.

The first step towards protecting sensitive data is to locate and identify them. So Secure@Source™ first allows you discover where all the sensitive data are located in the enterprise and classify them.  As part of the discovery, Secure@source also analyzes where sensitive data is being proliferated, who has access to the data, who are actually accessing them and whether the data is protected or unprotected when accessed.  Secure@Source™ leverages Informatica’s PowerCenter repository and lineage technology to perform a first pass, quick discovery with a more in depth analysis and profiling over time.  The solution allows you to determine the privacy risk index of your enterprise and slice and dice the analysis based on region, departments, organization hierarchy, as well as data classifications.

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The longer term vision of Secure@Source™ will allow you to detect suspicious usage patterns and orchestrate the appropriate data protection method, such as:  alerting, blocking, archiving and purging, dynamically masking, persistently masking, encrypting, and/or tokenizing the data. The data protection method will depend on whether the data store is a production or non-production system, and whether you would like to de-identify sensitive data across all users or only for some users.  All can be deployed based on policies. Secure@Source™ is intended to be an open framework for aggregating data security analytics and will integrate with key partners to provide a comprehensive visibility and assessment of an enterprise data privacy risk.

Secure@Source™ is targeted for beta at the end of 2014 and general availability in early 2015.  Informatica is recruiting a select group of charter customers to drive and provide feedback for the first release. Customers who are interested in being a charter customer should register and send email to SecureCustomers@informatica.com.

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Posted in Big Data, Business Impact / Benefits, Customers, Data Governance, Data Privacy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Data Security and Privacy: What’s Next?

DataSecurityData security breaches continue to escalate. Privacy legislation and enforcement is tightening and analysts have begun making dire predictions in regards to cyber security’s effectiveness. But there is more – Trusted insiders continue to be the major threat. In addition, most executives cannot identify the information they are trying to protect.

Data security is a senior management concern, not exclusive to IT. With this in mind, what is the next step CxOs must take to counter these breaches?

A new approach to Data Security

It is clear that a new approach is needed. This should focus on answering fundamental, but difficult and precise questions in regards to your data:

  1. What data should I be concerned about?
  2. Can I create re-usable rules for identifying and locating sensitive data in my organization?
  3. Can I do so both logically and physically?
  4. What is the source of the sensitive data and where is it consumed?
  5. What are the sensitive data relationships and proliferation?
  6. How is it protected? How should it be protected?
  7. How can I integrate data protection with my existing cyber security infrastructure?

The answers to these questions will help guide precise data security measures in order to protect the most valuable data. The answers need to be presented in an intuitive fashion, leveraging simple, yet revealing graphics and visualizations of your sensitive data risks and vulnerabilities.

At Informatica World 2014, Informatica will unveil its vision to help organizations address these concerns. This vision will assist in the development of precise security measures designed to counter the growing sophistication and frequency of cyber-attacks, and the ever present danger of rogue insiders.

Stay tuned, more to come from Informatica World 2014.

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Posted in Business/IT Collaboration, Data Privacy, Informatica World 2014 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Data Privacy and Security at RSA and IAPP

Data SecurityIt is an important time for data security. This past month, two crucial data privacy events have taken place. Informatica was on hand for both:

  1. The RSA conference took place in San Francisco from February 24-28, 2014
  2. The IAPP Global Privacy Summit took place Washington, DC from March 5-7, 2014

Data Privacy at the 2014 RSA Conference

The RSA conference was busy as expected, with over 30,000 attendees. Informatica co-sponsored an after-hours event with one of our partners, Imperva, at the Dark Circus. The event was standing room only and provided a great escape from the torrential rain. One highlight of RSA, for Informatica, is that we were honored with two of the 2014 Security Products Guide Awards:

  1. Informatica Dynamic Data Masking won the Gold Award for Database Security, Data Leakage Prevention/Extrusion Prevention
  2. Informatica Cloud Test Data Management and Security won the Bronze Award for New Products

Of particular interest to us was the growing recognition of data-centric security and privacy at RSA. I briefly met Bob Rudis, co-author of “Data Driven Security” which was featured at the onsite bookstore. In the book, Rudis has presented a great case for focusing on data as the center-point of security, through data analysis and visualization. From Informatica’s perspective, we also believe that a deep understanding of data and its relationships will escalate as a key driver of security policies and measures.

Data Privacy at the IAPP Global Privacy Summit

The IAPP Global Privacy Summit was an amazing event, small (2,500), but completely sold-out and overflowing its current venue. We exhibited and had the opportunity to meet CPOs, privacy, risk/compliance and security professionals from around the world, and had hundreds of conversations about the role of data discovery and masking for privacy. From the privacy perspective, it is all about finding, de-identification and protection of PII, PCI and PHI. These privacy professionals have extensive legal and/or data security backgrounds and understand the need to safeguard privacy by using data masking. Many notable themes were present at IAPP:

  • De-identification is a key topic area
  • Concerns about outsourcing and contractors in application development and testing have driven test data management adoption
  • No national US privacy regulations expected in the short-term
  • Europe has active but uneven privacy enforcement (France: “name and shame”, UK: heavy fines, Spain; most active)

Register for Informatica WorldIf you want to learn more about data privacy and security, you will find no better place than Informatica World 2014. There, you’ll learn about the latest data security trends, see updates to Informatica’s data privacy and security offerings, and find out how Informatica protects sensitive information in real time without requiring costly, time-consuming changes to applications and databases. Register TODAY!

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Posted in Data masking, Data Privacy | Tagged , | Leave a comment

And now for the rest of the data…

In the first two issues I spent time looking at the need for states to pay attention to the digital health and safety of their citizens, followed by the oft forgotten need to understand and protect the non-production data. This is data than has often proliferated and also ignored or forgotten about.

In many ways, non-production data is simpler to protect. Development and test systems can usually work effectively with realistic but not real PII data and realistic but not real volumes of data. On the other hand, production systems need the real production data complete with the wealth of information that enables individuals to be identified – and therefore presents a huge risk. If and when that data is compromised either deliberately or accidentally the consequences can be enormous; in the impact on the individual citizens and also the cost of remediation on the state. Many will remember the massive South Carolina data breach of late 2012 when over the course of 2 days a 74 GB database was downloaded and stolen, around 3.8 million payers and 1.9 million dependents had their social security information stolen and 3.3 million “lost” bank account details. The citizens’ pain didn’t end there, as the company South Carolina picked to help its citizens seems to have tried to exploit the situation.

encryption protects against theft - unless the key is stolen too

encryption protects against theft – unless the key is stolen too

The biggest problem with securing production data is that there are numerous legitimate users and uses of that data, and most often just a small number of potentially malicious or accidental attempts of inappropriate or dangerous access. So the question is… how does a state agency protect its citizens’ sensitive data while at the same time ensuring that legitimate uses and users continues – without performance impacts or any disruption of access? Obviously each state needs to make its own determination as to what approach works best for them.

This video does a good job at explaining the scope of the overall data privacy/security problems and also reviews a number of successful approaches to protecting sensitive data in both production and non-production environments. What you’ll find is that database encryption is just the start and is fine if the database is “stolen” (unless of course the key is stolen along with the data! Encryption locks the data away in the same way that a safe protects physical assets – but the same problem exists. If the key is stolen with the safe then all bets are off. Legitimate users are usually easily able deliberately breach and steal the sensitive contents, and it’s these latter occasions we need to understand and protect against. Given that the majority of data breaches are “inside jobs” we need to ensure that authorized users (end-users, DBAs, system administrators and so on) that have legitimate access only have access to the data they absolutely need, no more and no less.

So we have reached the end of the first series. In the first blog we looked at the need for states to place the same emphasis on the digital health and welfare of their citizens as they do on their physical and mental health. In the second we looked at the oft-forgotten area of non-production (development, testing, QA etc.) data. In this third and final piece we looked at the need to and some options for providing the complete protection of non-production data.

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Posted in Application ILM, Business Impact / Benefits, Data masking, Data Privacy, Enterprise Data Management, Public Sector | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What types of data need protecting?

In my first article on the topic of citizens’ digital health and safety we looked at the states’ desire to keep their citizens healthy and safe and also at the various laws and regulations they have in place around data breaches and losses. The size and scale of the problem together with some ideas for effective risk mitigation are in this whitepaper.

The cost and frequency of data breaches continue to rise

The cost and frequency of data breaches continue to rise

Let’s now start delving a little deeper into the situation states are faced with. It’s pretty obvious that citizen data that enables an individual to be identified (PII) needs to be protected. We immediately think of the production data: data that is used in integrated eligibility systems; in health insurance exchanges; in data warehouses and so on. In some ways the production data is the least of our problems; our research shows that the average state has around 10 to 12 full copies of data for non-production (development, test, user acceptance and so on) purposes. This data tends to be much more vulnerable because it is widespread and used by a wide variety of people – often subcontractors or outsourcers, and often the content of the data is not well understood.

Obviously production systems need access to real production data (I’ll cover how best to protect that in the next issue), on the other hand non-production systems of every sort do not. Non-production systems most often need realistic, but not real data and realistic, but not real data volumes (except maybe for the performance/stress/throughput testing system). What need to be done? Well to start with, a three point risk remediation plan would be a good place to start.

1. Understand the non-production data using sophisticated data and schema profiling combined with NLP (Natural Language Processing) techniques help to identify previously unrealized PII that needs protecting.
2. Permanently mask the PII so that it is no longer the real data but is realistic enough for non-production uses and make sure that the same masking is applied to the attribute values wherever they appear in multiple tables/files.
3. Subset the data to reduce data volumes, this limits the size of the risk and also has positive effects on performance, run-times, backups etc.

Gartner has just published their 2013 magic quadrant for data masking this covers both what they call static (i.e. permanent or persistent masking) and dynamic (more on this in the next issue) masking. As usual the MQ gives a good overview of the issues behind the technology as well as a review of the position, strengths and weaknesses of the leading vendors.

It is (or at least should be) an imperative that from the top down state governments realize the importance and vulnerability of their citizens data and put in place a non-partisan plan to prevent any future breaches. As the reader might imagine, for any such plan to success needs a combination of cultural and organizational change (getting people to care) and putting the right technology – together these will greatly reduce the risk. In the next and final issue on this topic we will look at the vulnerabilities of production data, and what can be done to dramatically increase its privacy and security.

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Posted in Application ILM, Data Archiving, Data Governance, Data masking, Data Privacy, Public Sector | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Informatica Remains A Leader In The Gartner 2013 Data Masking MQ

Informatica announced, once again, that it is listed as a leader in the industry’s second Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Masking Technology. With data security continuing to grow as one of the fastest segments in the enterprise software market, technologies such as data masking are becoming the solution of choice for data-centric security.

Increased fear of cyber-attacks and internal data breaches has made predictions that 2014 is the year of preventative and tactical measures to ensure corporate data assets are safe.  Data masking should be included in those measures.  According to Gartner,

Security program managers need to take a strategic approach with tactical best-practice technology configurations in order to properly address the most common advanced targeted attack scenarios to increase both detection and prevention capabilities.”[1]

Without these measures, the cost of an attack or breach is growing every year.  The Ponemon Institute posted in a recent study:

The 2013 Cost of Cyber Crime Study states that the average annualized cost of cybercrime incurred by a benchmark sample of US organizations was $11.56 million, nearly 78% more than the cost estimated in the first analysis conducted 4 years ago.”[2]

Informatica believes that the best preventative measures include a layered approach for data security but without sacrificing agility or adding unnecessary costs.  Data Masking delivers data-centric security with improved productivity and reduced overall costs.

Data Masking prevents internal data theft and abuse of sensitive data by hiding it from users.  Data masking techniques include replacing some fields with similar-looking characters, masking characters (for example, “x”), substituting real last names with fictional last names and shuffling data within columns – to name a few. Other terms for data masking include data obfuscation, sanitization, scrambling, de-identification, and anonymization .  Call it what you like, but without it – organizations may continue to expose sensitive data to those with mal intentions.

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


[1] http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2323615

[2] http://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/18517/cyber-crime/ponemon-2013-cost-of-cyber-crime.html

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Posted in Application ILM, Data Governance, Data masking, Data Privacy, Governance, Risk and Compliance | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Data Integration Architecture Needs Data Privacy

A data integration hub is a proven vehicle to provide a self service model for publishing and subscribing data to be made available to a variety of users.   For those who deploy these environments for regulated and sensitive data need to think of data privacy and data governance during the design phase of the project.

In the data integration hub architecture, think about how sensitive data will be coming from different locations, from a variety of technology platforms, and certainly from systems being managed by teams with a wide range of data security skills.  How can you ensure data will be protected across such a heterogeneous environment? Not to mention if data traverses across national boundaries.

Then think about testing connectivity.  If data needs to be validated in a data quality rules engine, in order to truly test this connectivity, there needs to be a capability to test using valid data.  However testers should not have access or visibility into the actual data itself if it is classified as sensitive or confidential.

With a hub and spoke model, the rules are difficult to enforce if data is being requested from one country and received in another.  The opportunity for exposing human error and potential data leakage increases exponentially.  Rather than reading about a breach in the headlines, it may make sense to  look at building preventative measures or spending the time and money to do the right thing from the onset of the project.

There are technologies that exist in the market that are easy to implement that are designed to prevent this very type of exposure.  This technology is called data masking which includes data obfuscation, encryption and tokenization.  Informatica’s Data Privacy solution based on persistent and dynamic data masking options can be easily and quickly deployed without the need to develop code or modify the source or target application.

When developing your reference architecture for a data integration hub, incorporate sound data governance policies and build data privacy into the application upfront. Don’t wait for the headlines to include your company and someone’s personal data.

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