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.

Perimeter

6/12/2012
06:45 PM
50%
50%

Don't Blame Me, I'm Just An Employee

If you're looking for a cure for mishandling of sensitive data, then look no further than your own management team

Five years ago I remember contemplating some future day when the general workforce would come to understand the importance of securing sensitive data, taking a personal interest -- and even making a personal effort -- in support of that goal. Fast-forward to last week. While reviewing the findings of a customer's data risk assessment, I came to a personal realization: The workforce will never learn.

Not surprisingly, the results of this risk assessment were similar to the dozens before it. Despite the fact that the findings supported the need for my company's products and services, I found myself strangely deflated and disappointed. But there was also another feeling welling up inside me that I couldn't immediately identify. It was something unusual for the situation, a deeper, rawer emotion. Anger. I was officially mad.

I'd been through this process more than 100 times and had never been angry. Yet here I was sitting in front of my customer, seething inside. I couldn't let the anger show, of course, so I shouted in my mind, "Have end users learned nothing in the past five years?" We found incidents of users still sending spreadsheets with personally identifiable information, such as names and Social Security, credit card, and account numbers, to personal email accounts. Customer service reps were still replying to customer email messages in cleartext, leaving credit card numbers, expiration dates, and card security codes in place. Network and workstation drives were still chock-full of interesting and scary sensitive data saved by unwitting end users. And FTP jobs thought to be secure were still transmitting sensitive data in the clear.

As we reviewed the individual incidents and saw the usernames ascribed to each occurrence of data misuse -- billyjones, sallylu, etc. -- my anger toward the end users began to wane. Knowing this particular customer as I do, and the general lack of executive management support for data protection, suddenly it was management I found in my crosshair. A torrent of memories of working with this customer came flooding to my mind. New roadblocks seemed to appear anytime we identified an area of needed improvement. Always willing to talk a good talk, but seldom willing to put their money where their mouths were, my anger and frustration shifted entirely to the management team.

Don't get me wrong; end users must still do their part. In fact, there's a growing awareness for data security among the workforce that will certainly continue to improve. However, as much as we may wish, data security is simply not the mindset of the average end user. The breach news, if they even hear it, doesn't mean anything to them. Whether we like it or not, their focus is on completing their primary job duties, right where it should be. The ultimate responsibility for data security still rests with management.

Management must accept that responsibility and force a shift in corporate consciousness toward data security. This shift begins with attention at the executive level and filters down through the organization by means of those inconvenient data security tasks that are all too often left undone: organized training, internal awareness initiatives, and reinforcement with enforcement technologies. Until management takes action to increase awareness among its workforce, it is difficult to expect a higher level of end user care for sensitive data.

Jared Thorkelson is founder and president of DLP Experts, a vendor-agnostic VAR and consulting practice focused exclusively on data protection. He can be reached at [email protected] 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

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
senthilkumar@techweb.com
50%
50%
[email protected],
User Rank: Apprentice
8/16/2012 | 12:47:48 PM
re: Don't Blame Me, I'm Just An Employee
Excellent Article
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/14/2020
Lock-Pickers Face an Uncertain Future Online
Seth Rosenblatt, Contributing Writer,  8/10/2020
Hacking It as a CISO: Advice for Security Leadership
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  8/10/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
7 New Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities That Could Put Your Enterprise at Risk
In this Dark Reading Tech Digest, we look at the ways security researchers and ethical hackers find critical vulnerabilities and offer insights into how you can fix them before attackers can exploit them.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-17475
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-14
Lack of authentication in the network relays used in MEGVII Koala 2.9.1-c3s allows attackers to grant physical access to anyone by sending packet data to UDP port 5000.
CVE-2020-0255
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-14
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: CVE-2020-10751. Reason: This candidate is a duplicate of CVE-2020-10751. Notes: All CVE users should reference CVE-2020-10751 instead of this candidate. All references and descriptions in this candidate have been removed to prevent accidenta...
CVE-2020-14353
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-14
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: CVE-2017-18270. Reason: This candidate is a duplicate of CVE-2017-18270. Notes: All CVE users should reference CVE-2017-18270 instead of this candidate. All references and descriptions in this candidate have been removed to prevent accidenta...
CVE-2020-17464
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-14
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: This candidate was withdrawn by its CNA. Further investigation showed that it was not a security issue. Notes: none.
CVE-2020-17473
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-14
Lack of mutual authentication in ZKTeco FaceDepot 7B 1.0.213 and ZKBiosecurity Server 1.0.0_20190723 allows an attacker to obtain a long-lasting token by impersonating the server.