Perimeter
1/9/2013
02:52 PM
50%
50%

How Well Do You Know Your Data?

The more you know about your data, the more effectively you can protect it

Most organizations have a pretty good idea of which sensitive data is most critical to them. Depending on the kind of business entity, the data types can vary considerably. For financial organizations, the most critical data is most often consumer personally identifiable information (PII), including account and credit card numbers. In healthcare organizations, the major concern is still PII, but with a HIPAA twist to include protected health information. For other companies, the most critical data may be other nonpublic data, such as customer lists or intellectual property.

Regardless of the data types, in order to protect this sensitive data from insider threats (and outside, frankly), it is imperative for an organization to have as much knowledge of its data as possible. That means not just which data it is, but where it is, how it is used -- within and outside of the organization -- and the potential consequences if it were to become lost or stolen.

All that said, however, I do not support the idea of needing to know everything about sensitive data before taking steps to protect it. To the contrary, I stand firmly on the side of action, always assuming an organization and executive team know enough about the data to take effective protective measures. This is a delicate balance. On one hand, an organization may want to fully understand its data prior to deploying expensive data protection technologies. On the other hand, if the process of understanding the data is a multiyear project, the critical data may be subjected to unnecessary risk in the meantime.

So how does an organization maintain the right balance? For the sake of sensitive data, it is always prudent to take immediate action on the data already known to be the most critical. This could be, for example, the intellectual property of a technology company. Employing technologies in the short term to safeguard this intellectual property is the first and most important step. Once the most critical data is secured, the organization can then focus attention on identifying other sensitive data types. This could include data such as HR and employee data, which, in many cases as consumer PII, is subject to data breach notification laws in all but a handful of U.S. states.

Finally, a sensitive data review is always recommended. This process can be as simple or comprehensive as judged necessary. All data owners in an organization should be involved to ensure no sensitive data is overlooked. Each data set can be analyzed to map out approved handling procedures and identify any holes, determine appropriate storage locations, confirm approved data handlers, establish the correct process for breach response for that specific data, gauge the probable impact of data loss, and apply a risk ranking so the organization can know which of the sensitive data types have the greatest potential for collateral damage.

Armed with this newfound knowledge, an organization can protect all sensitive data, employ data protection tools on new data sets, uncover better data handling procedures, and take other appropriate steps to mitigate data loss risk.

Jared Thorkelson is President of DLP Experts, a reseller of data protection technologies Jared is president of DLP Experts, a value-added reseller dedicated exclusively to data loss prevention (DLP) and other data protection technologies and services. For over twenty years Jared has held executive level positions with technology firms, with the last six years ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
jklingel296
50%
50%
jklingel296,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/23/2013 | 9:34:07 AM
re: How Well Do You Know Your Data?
Good article, describing exactly what we do at-áthe company I-¦m working for. It would be great if Jared could shed some light on the aspect of classifying data in terms of a monetary value. How do we get the information owner to stick a price tag to the data? Something we can then use in risk management to justify (costly)-ámeasures.

Best regards

Jan Klingel-á
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading December Tech Digest
Experts weigh in on the pros and cons of end-user security training.
Flash Poll
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-4807
Published: 2014-11-22
Sterling Order Management in IBM Sterling Selling and Fulfillment Suite 9.3.0 before FP8 allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (CPU consumption) via a '\0' character.

CVE-2014-6183
Published: 2014-11-22
IBM Security Network Protection 5.1 before 5.1.0.0 FP13, 5.1.1 before 5.1.1.0 FP8, 5.1.2 before 5.1.2.0 FP9, 5.1.2.1 before FP5, 5.2 before 5.2.0.0 FP5, and 5.3 before 5.3.0.0 FP1 on XGS devices allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary commands via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-5395
Published: 2014-11-21
Multiple cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in Huawei HiLink E3276 and E3236 TCPU before V200R002B470D13SP00C00 and WebUI before V100R007B100D03SP01C03, E5180s-22 before 21.270.21.00.00, and E586Bs-2 before 21.322.10.00.889 allow remote attackers to hijack the authentication of users ...

CVE-2014-7137
Published: 2014-11-21
Multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities in Dolibarr ERP/CRM before 3.6.1 allow remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the (1) contactid parameter in an addcontact action, (2) ligne parameter in a swapstatut action, or (3) project_ref parameter to projet/tasks/contact.php; (4...

CVE-2014-7871
Published: 2014-11-21
SQL injection vulnerability in Open-Xchange (OX) AppSuite before 7.4.2-rev36 and 7.6.x before 7.6.0-rev23 allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via a crafted jslob API call.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Now that the holiday season is about to begin both online and in stores, will this be yet another season of nonstop gifting to cybercriminals?