I visit many technology companies and customer locations, and I'm often very impressed with the level of security at some of these sites--biometric devices for entering certain offices, metal detectors, security guards, laptop confiscation or verification, video cameras, and more. Clearly these companies place a high value on protecting their internal assets. Bravo. So why is it that the same level of value isn't always placed on customer data once it leaves the building? You know what I'm talking about--the increasing number of companies losing customer records after tapes are boxed up and shipped to another location to be stored securely. Citigroup, Time Warner, Bank of America ... Who is it going to be next week? It's not that Citigroup and UPS don't care. But it's a shame that companies need public exposure to convince them that something has to change.
Many businesses and industries have been working hard to figure out better ways of securing information online in this digital age, but clearly some of the more manual aspects need to be re-evaluated.
Art Coviello, CEO of RSA Security, made an interesting comment last week when RSA and Adobe released the results of a survey of 400 Washington-based opinion leaders at a privacy and security-policy event in Washington, D.C. Not surprisingly, survey respondents see a need for greater protection of consumer data and the privacy of individual information. So much so, the topic ranks up there with Social Security reform, stem-cell research, and judicial nominations. Art said that while many companies are failing in their efforts (as shown by the news each week!), many are taking their responsibilities seriously. So, he suggested that "as individual policy makers look at this issue, I would urge them to create appropriate 'safe harbors,' in which those who have met current regulatory requirements or industry best practices, such as encrypting sensitive information, are not penalized, but those who are lagging in reasonable security processes are compelled to meet their responsibilities."
The question is, what do you consider reasonable? Is shipping tapes with secure data on them reasonable? Should all sensitive data be encrypted not only as it traverses networks but as it resides inside company databases or boxes? Clearly, some companies need more reasonable business processes, not just new technologies.
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