Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

6/23/2006
05:15 AM
50%
50%

Data Loss Epidemic

Data losses at major corporations and government agencies are being reported almost every day now

1:25 PM -- As an IT security journalist, I'm amazed. As an ordinary consumer, I'm downright frightened.

In the last week alone, five major insurance and financial services companies and one government agency have admitted to losing or exposing the personal information of their customers through lax or careless security behavior. Most of these losses occurred not through the ingenuity of attackers, but through the boneheaded behavior of corporate employees – and, in some cases, their IT departments.

We started off the week with the news that ING had lost the names, Social Security numbers, and other data of 13,000 District of Columbia employees when a laptop was stolen from an ING agent living in the D.C. area. (See DC Workers' Personal Data Stolen.)

The laptop was not password-protected, and the data was not encrypted. That loss came just weeks after a similar theft resulted in the loss of 26.5 million veterans' personal information from a laptop owned by a D.C.-area employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs. (See VA Data Loss Worse Than Expected.)

(Note to myself, a D.C.-area resident: Buy new locks for the doors.)

Then, a day later, insurance giant AIG admitted that a break-in back in March had resulted in the loss of a file server containing personal data on some 970,000 of its customers. The data on the server was not encrypted, and AIG said most of the data shouldn't have been given to the company anyway. (See Thieves Nab AIG Customer Records.)

Was that the end of the wave? Not by a longshot. By Thursday, three more companies – Visa, Wachovia, and Equifax – had notified customers of laptop thefts or security violations that may have resulted in the loss of personal data for thousands more customers.

Aside from the sheer coincidence of these major data losses, the most amazing thing about the week's events is the lack of security policy enforcement that occurred (or didn't occur) to create the problems in the first place: Users walking out of the office with thousands of customer records on completely unprotected laptops; and huge caches of data that were never encrypted – or even known about.

How many more hits do companies have to take before IT wises up and gets tough on enforcing security policies?

Apparently, at least a few more. Many of the companies violated this week said they are only just embarking on policy enforcement and training programs to clean up the problem. Credit card vendors report that as many as 90 percent of retailers still aren't complying with guidelines for securing user credit information. (See Retailers Lag on Security Standard.) This thing is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Before you click to the next page, ask yourself the question: Is my customers' data truly safe? The answer may amaze you – or even frighten you.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
HackerOne Drops Mobile Voting App Vendor Voatz
Dark Reading Staff 3/30/2020
Limited-Time Free Offers to Secure the Enterprise Amid COVID-19
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  3/31/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
Data breaches and regulations have forced organizations to pay closer attention to the security incident response function. However, security leaders may be overestimating their ability to detect and respond to security incidents. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-11529
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-04
Common/Grav.php in Grav before 1.6.23 has an Open Redirect.
CVE-2020-11527
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-04
In Zoho ManageEngine OpManager before 12.4.181, an unauthenticated remote attacker can send a specially crafted URI to read arbitrary files.
CVE-2020-11528
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-04
bit2spr 1992-06-07 has a stack-based buffer overflow (129-byte write) in conv_bitmap in bit2spr.c via a long line in a bitmap file.
CVE-2020-11518
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-04
Zoho ManageEngine ADSelfService Plus before 5815 allows unauthenticated remote code execution.
CVE-2020-5347
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-04
Dell EMC Isilon OneFS versions 8.2.2 and earlier contain a denial of service vulnerability. SmartConnect had an error condition that may be triggered to loop, using CPU and potentially preventing other SmartConnect DNS responses.