Infrastructure
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3/16/2006
07:15 PM
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The High Cost Of Data Loss

Sensitive personal data has been misplaced, lost, printed on mailing labels, posted online, and just left around for anyone to see. The situation has become untenable. Here's the ugly truth about how it keeps happening, who's been affected, and what's being done about it.

Contents
The Losers, by Paul McDougall
The Victims, by Elena Malykhina
The Goods, by Larry Greenemeier
The Crooks, by Aaron Ricadela
The Law, by Marianne Kolbasuk McGee
Timeline: Mistakes Galore
Interactive Presentation: Personal Data Sieves
How many ways are there to expose sensitive personal data? One company misplaces a backup tape; another puts customers' Social Security numbers onto mailing labels for anyone to see. Others lose laptops, inadvertently post private information online, or leave documents exposed to prying eyes. The possibilities are endless-- as we're learning with every new revelation of a data breach or hack or inexcusable lapse in secure business practices. By one estimate, 53 million people--including consumers, employees, students, and patients--have had data about themselves exposed over the past 13 months.

This sorry state of affairs is taking its toll: fines, lawsuits, firings, damaged reputations, spooked customers, credit card fraud, a regulatory crackdown, and the expense of fixing what's broken. The situation has become untenable. Here's the ugly truth about how it keeps happening, who's been affected, and what's being done about it.

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