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5/27/2005
07:10 PM
Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl
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Editor's Note: Is Your Customer Data Really Safe?

I dare you. I double-dog dare you. I triple- dog dare you!" Ah, the sinister triple-dog dare from a school-yard friend to the tough, seemingly unfazed Flick in A Christmas Story. In case you aren't familiar with the story, Flick is dared to stick his tongue on a frosty flagpole. He doesn't believe it actually will stick (or maybe he's really, really, really hoping it won't). But, of course, we all know what happens. I cringe just thinking about it.

After a discussion with the folks at Opnet Technologies last week, I thought of a triple-dog dare that would determine whether your company has an adequate backup plan in the event of a network outage or a security threat. Are you confident enough in your backup and redundancy plans that you'd tell your CEO that it's sufficient? Are you confident enough that you could go around the data center and randomly pull out cables to prove it works? Are you so secure that you'd be willing to do that during peak business hours? Does the thought make you cringe?

I'd love to offer up a dare to any business regarding customer-data security. Are you confident enough in your processes, policies, and technologies to say that customer data is safe? Are you confident enough to put it in your annual report? Are you confident enough to guarantee it to all of your customers? Anything less should make your customers cringe.

I'm glad to hear the financial industry is doing more to protect such data (see story, "Banks Batten Down"). It's not just their reputations at stake here. The future of online commerce also is at risk. But more important, the privacy of customers is at stake. The attackers, phishers, and scammers are getting more sophisticated and more devious. Efforts to protect customer data must keep pace, whatever the cost.

Stephanie Stahl
Editor-in-chief
sstahl@cmp.com


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