Perimeter
1/9/2013
02:52 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
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
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
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-2012-2413
Published: 2014-10-20
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the ja_purity template for Joomla! 1.5.26 and earlier allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the Mod* cookie parameter to html/modules.php.

CVE-2012-5244
Published: 2014-10-20
Multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities in Banana Dance B.2.6 and earlier allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the (1) return, (2) display, (3) table, or (4) search parameter to functions/suggest.php; (5) the id parameter to functions/widgets.php, (6) the category parameter to...

CVE-2012-5694
Published: 2014-10-20
Multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities in Bulb Security Smartphone Pentest Framework (SPF) before 0.1.3 allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the (1) agentPhNo, (2) controlPhNo, (3) agentURLPath, (4) agentControlKey, or (5) platformDD1 parameter to frameworkgui/attach2Agents.p...

CVE-2012-5695
Published: 2014-10-20
Multiple cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in Bulb Security Smartphone Pentest Framework (SPF) 0.1.2 through 0.1.4 allow remote attackers to hijack the authentication of administrators for requests that conduct (1) shell metacharacter or (2) SQL injection attacks or (3) send an SMS m...

CVE-2012-5696
Published: 2014-10-20
Bulb Security Smartphone Pentest Framework (SPF) before 0.1.3 does not properly restrict access to frameworkgui/config, which allows remote attackers to obtain the plaintext database password via a direct request.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.