Though the second half of the year has been comparably calmer than the first half's database breaches at RSA, Sony, and Epsilon, the breach numbers continued to roll in--especially at healthcare organizations, which made up a disproportionate number of exposed records. Here are some of the biggest breaches that went down in the second half of the year, along with a few database security lessons learned.
1. The Breach Victim: Nemours
Assets Stolen/Affected: Names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, insurance data, medical treatment data, and bank account information for 1.6 million patients, vendors, and employees.
Three unencrypted tapes containing a mother lode of personal information on patients, vendors, and employees were lost amid the dust of a facility remodel project when a cabinet that held them since 2004 went missing.
Lessons Learned: Database backups are often the Achilles' heel in enterprise database security. Because of their portability and longevity, database backup tapes are frequently lost in transit or in these types of relocation scenarios. Encryption of data is key to ensuring security even when tapes can't be physically secured.
[ From healthcare to game companies to trusted third-party security companies, a number of significant breaches were reported in 2011. See Slide Show: The Year In Data Theft. ]
2. The Breach Victim: Tricare/SAIC
Assets Stolen/Affected: Protected health information from 5.1 million patients of U.S. military hospitals and clinics.
Another day, another backup tape gone missing. In September, Tricare announced that an employee for one of its contractors, Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), was driving around with a backup tape containing patient data from 1992 all the way through 2011 for San Antonio-area military treatment facilities. The tapes were stolen from the car, exposing Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, clinical notes, lab test results, prescriptions, and other medical information.
Lessons Learned: In addition to the lessons about backup tape protection, this case shows how important third-party contractor security procedures are to an organization. Enterprises and government agencies alike must be aware of how contractors are touching database information and whether they're employing best practices with regard to how that data is handled.
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