Threat of the Month: Data breaches

May 10, 2007

What is it?

Any unauthorised access to stored sensitive data through networkhacking, lost or stolen laptops or data tapes, or information posted toa website.

How does it work?

Data breaches can be caused by innocent employee error, or can be theresult of intentional malicious attacks. Data at risk includes acompany's intellectual property and customer/personal data. The customerinformation revealed through a data breach is often targeted for use inidentity fraud.

Should I be worried?

The financial costs of a data breach include legal fees, possible finesand potential lost revenue. The damage to reputation, brand and consumerconfidence cannot be measured, but are extremely costly. Reports put thetotal number of records compromised in data breaches since January 2005at more than 100 million.

How can I prevent it?

Protect data from threats both inside and outside the company. Steps totake include encrypting data stored on computers, laptops and removablemedia; using firewalls to secure against viruses; and monitoring yourdatabases for unusual activity. Most importantly, treat data security asa business issue, not just a security issue.

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