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Security In Context

Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting your critical IT infrastructure.

Data Lost: Covering Your Assets

Post by Peter McCalister May 4, 2012

According to a recent CDW poll, one in four organizations experienced data loss in the past two years. Imagine the amount of customer, student, employee and patient information lost because of those incidents, never mind the ones that go unreported.

Aligning with this shocking stat is that according to the same study, the number of people accessing business networks increased by 41 percent during the last two years. If we can learn anything from this stat, we must consider partners as potential insider threats too. Information assets are some of the most important ingredients to a corporation’s success, but also the hardest to effectively protect across the extended enterprise given the proliferation of distributed users’ communities, mobile devices, virtualized platforms and cloud computing.

While it is important to provide the information and access necessary for third-party resources to do their jobs, at the same time it’s irresponsible to allow vendors free reign over sensitive data or network assets. An all or nothing approach to granting users access doesn’t work here. Effective privileged identity management coupled with comprehensive knowledge of your partners’ and vendors’ security policies and practices is the best way to safeguard your company’s most valued assets.

A recent Ponemon Institute study discovered that organizations suffering a data loss in 2011 paid an average of $5.5 million per breach, which translates into $194 per record lost. Human nature is the weakest link when it comes to the intersection of people, processes and technology. You can’t rely on everyone being a saint or competent all of the time. It’s not just malicious employees’ intent on destroying information systems that can cause havoc, but also the negligent, misinformed, and downright nosey, who can compromise sensitive data. In most situations it’s more often than not the case that such people have way too much privileged access – admin rights on the desktop, root password on server – for the role they are required to play.

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