A long recovery road after a data breach

Small to medium-sized businesses face a long recovery road after a data breach
Understanding why data breach preparedness is a priority is key. According to the latest Ponemon Institute Study, State of SMB Cyber Security Readiness: US Study, the road to recovery is long and hard for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) after a data breach.
 Not only did the SMBs lose customers, costs to acquire new customers went up significantly, some organizations had to lay off employees and it took almost a year to recover from the damage to their business reputation.  The purpose of the study was to understand the ability of SMBs to prepare their companies for a possible cyber security threat or data breach.

The study examined the differences in perceptions about the consequences of a data security breach between those companies that experienced a breach and those that have not.  The average cost of a data breach was almost $900K, which is almost three times more than what unaffected companies estimated.  This lack of awareness about the costs and consequences of a data breach can negatively affect an SMB’s ability to be prepared for a cyber security attack.  Although participants stated that the priority for their IT security spending was to meet compliance requirements and implement a data breach response plan, the reality is most companies didn’t have policies in place to deal with a breach of data.  In addition, respondents expressed that their biggest frustration in implementing a data security plan was dealing with employee negligence and felt it was unrealistic to expect an organization of their size to be totally secure from a cyber attack. In response, The Ponemon Institute has the following recommendations to improve the current state of cyber readiness for SMBs:

  1. Like bigger sized organizations, make it a priority to implement formal data protection and security programs to detect cyber security risks.
  2. Conduct risk assessments and monitoring to identify data breach risks. Establish security objectives and set actionable metrics to be able to measure that your company is meeting security goals.
  3. Ensure that employees’ mobile devices are properly protected with anti-virus/anti-malware protections and encryption technologies.  Identify your sensitive and confidential information that needs security and protection at all times.
  4. Educate workers through training and awareness programs on the importance of following proper security procedures.  Make the business case for investing in cyber security.

As with many things, it’s not the size that counts, it’s the content that is important.  And no matter how large or small the business, the importance of protecting that content should always be the first priority in every company’s cyber security plan.

Original article from Experian 22nd Feb 2013

UK Biggest Data Loss Disasters of 2012

The UK’s Biggest Data Loss Disasters of 2012
With the growth in the use of personal devices for work, it is no surprise that data loss increased in 2012. In fact, it is astounding to think that UK data loss in general has risen by an estimated 1,000 per cent in just under five years.

Here, we take a look back at some of the biggest data losses the UK faced in 2012.

NHS trust loses personal data of 600 maternity patients, and kids On at least two separate occasions in 2012, the NHS was forced to admit losing two unencrypted USB sticks containing highly sensitive personal patient data. In the first instance, the device in question contained data relating to around 600 maternity patients. A second USB stick containing the names and dates of birth of 30 children and full audiology reports of a further three was also lost. This caused great embarrassment to the NHS, and distress to the patients whose confidential information was compromised.

Lost data blunders costing  councils £1.9 million A series of blunders by various UK councils led to them being fined heavily for serious data breaches, including the disclosure of highly sensitive, personal information. The fines totalled an astonishing £1.9 million. The mistakes included information being sent to the wrong people, while one individual even left hard copies of highly confidential documents on the train.

Shopacheck loses data on 1.4 million customers In terms of the number of customers affected by any single data loss incident, Shopacheck experienced the biggest loss in 2012. The loan firm managed to lose sensitive financial information pertaining to 1.4 million of its customers after two back-up tapes went missing. The tapes contained highly confidential information including customer names, addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers and email addresses.

Police force pays £120,000 penalty for data breach Greater Manchester Police was fined £120,000 after a memory stick, which had no password protection, was stolen from an officer’s home. This caused a serious breach of data security, not least because the device contained information about members of the public who had given statements as part of drug investigations. It also contained details of police operations, potential arrest targets and the names of officers.

USB stick with nuclear plant data lost by ONR official While on a business trip to India an Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) official lost an unencrypted USB memory stick containing data relating to one of the UK’s nuclear power stations in Hartlepool. What made it worse for this blundering individual was the ONR confirming that unencrypted USB sticks should not be used for transporting documents with a security classification. It seems this official should have thought a little more about effective ways to protect his organisation’s sensitive data.

As these examples demonstrate, data loss can largely be attributed to human error and ineffective backup and security solutions. Once again, we are reminded of the importance of implementing effective data protection policies. Many of these disasters could have been mitigated with the use of a solution such as EVault’s Endpoint Protection for mobile devices (laptops and tablets), or by using the cloud, to backup sensitive company data.
Let’s hope that businesses realise this in 2013!

Original article by By Jean-Jacques Maleval, Mon, January 21st, 2013

EU data protection law proposals include large fines

Firms face being fined up to 2% of their global annual turnover if they breach proposed EU data laws.

The European Commission has put forward the suggestion as part of a new directive and regulation.

The new rules include users’ “right to be forgotten” and an obligation on organisations to report data breaches “as soon as possible”.

The boss of one tech-focused organisation described the proposals as a “tax” on firms holding customer data.

The Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, said it was important for EU citizens – particularly teenagers – to be in control of their online identities.

“My proposals will help build trust in online services because people will be better informed about their rights and more in control of their information,” she said.

The commission says that key changes to the 1995 data protection rules include:

  • People will have easier access to their own data, and will find it easier to transfer it from one service provider to another.
  • Users will have the right to demand that data about them be deleted if there are no “legitimate grounds” for it to be kept.
  • Organisations must notify the authorities about data breaches as early as possible, “if feasible within 24 hours”.
  • In cases where consent is required organisations must explicitly ask for permission to process data, rather than assume it.
  • Companies with 250 or more employees will have to appoint a data protection officer.

The rules would apply to data handled outside the EU if the companies involved offered services to citizens living in the 27-nation zone.

USB stick and CD
Some firms are concerned that they would have to confirm data loss within 24 hours of being hacked.

The commissioner said that by simplifying the current “patchwork” of rules and cutting red tape, businesses could expect to save a total of 2.3bn euros ($3bn; £1.9bn) a year.

However, organisations which break the rules face penalties.

The commissioner suggested that companies that charged a user for a data request be fined up to 0.5% of their global turnover. She said that sum should double if a firm refused to hand over data or failed to correct bad information.

She added that companies responsible for more serious violations could be fined up to 2% of their turnover. The sum is capped at 1m euros for other bodies.

Cost worries

One lawyer told the BBC that the benefits would be outweighed by the new burdens placed on businesses.

“The one bit of a good news is that they result in harmonisation across Europe which is better than the existing situation with 27 different national laws, but the content of some these proposals is very onerous,” said Marc Dautlich, head of information law at Pinsent Masons.

“These are all going to involve costs and resource. And in a difficult economic climate.”

Adam Malik, organiser of the Digital London conference, said that he accepted that customers had a moral right to ask for data deletion, but the new rules – as he understood them – could place some enterprises in jeopardy.

“This is just an additional tax on all businesses which hold electronic customer records,” he said.

“Also we need clarity on what is personalised data. Lots of lawyers will be happy about this directive for years to come – meanwhile innovation is discouraged.”

Security company FireEye also expressed concern about the suggested data loss demands.

“Reporting within 24 hours of discovery is admirable but if the company wasn’t aware of the breach for 24 days then where do all involved stand?” asked its director of European operations, Paul Davis.

But others were more positive about the proposals.

“Businesses can either see it as a glass half-empty or a glass half-full,” said Alan Mitchell, strategy director of Ctrl-Shift, a technology consultancy whose clients include the UK government.

“This legislation will enable UK and EU business to lead this growing market and develop new technologies and businesses.”

The rules need to be approved by the EU’s member states and ratified by the European Parliament before they can come into effect.

That could take two or more years, during which time they may be amended or rejected outright.

Published by The BBC     25 January 2012