On Monday, May 16 the White House revealed language on new legislation directing private industry to improve computer security voluntarily and have those standards reviewed by the Department of Homeland Security. By increasing and clarifying the penalties for federal and enterprise computer crimes, the administration hopes to temper the perception that the consequences for cyber attacks and data theft are comparatively trivial.
Administration officials admit that they will designate certain privately run computer systems as part of a “critical infrastructure” over which the DoHS can have enhanced authority. The agency will also be tasked with working with energy companies, water suppliers and financial institutions to rank and combat the most serious threats. The new law will also require that these businesses work with independent commercial auditors to assess their plans, and, in the case of financial firms, report those plans to the Security and Exchange Commission. The language also includes the simplification and standardization of the existing 47 state laws regarding national data breach reporting, which require businesses that have suffered an intrusion to notify consumers if the intruder had access to the consumers’ personal information.
The result: Many companies will immediately assign added budget and manpower to the task of barricading against external threats – forgetting that these new laws equally mandate for the monitoring and auditing of internal compromises.
But in addition to outward-facing barricades, organizations will need to address internal access controls, employee IT administrative rights and user privilege delegation solutions. Administers should be required to view how data assets are internally accessed (and by whom), monitor changes to application controls that secure and protect the integrity of assets, and even pro-actively assess the impact of IT changes to business and IT security.
If you read this blog, you know that we have labeled this critical role of IT security “securing the perimeter within,” and strongly counsel that businesses look inward – as well as outward – to strengthen security around data assets by better controlling user database administration and activities and allowing desktop users to operate using the least set of privileges necessary to complete their jobs.