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Commentary

The Time Is Now (Better Yet, Yesterday) For A Federal Data Breach Disclosure Law

It'll soon be five years since the California data breach disclosure law, better known as SB 1386, went into effect. So far the law has had some success. But we need a federal standard.
It'll soon be five years since the California data breach disclosure law, better known as SB 1386, went into effect. So far the law has had some success. But we need a federal standard.For certain, the number of public security breach disclosures have risen dramatically since the law went into effect. Including a number of blockbusters, such as those at ChoicePoint, TJX, and the VA. Prior to SB 1386, too many (read: nearly all) companies opted to ignore the data theft. They wouldn't call law enforcement, and they certainly wouldn't give their customers a heads-up that something was awry with their account information.

But this newfound visibility has done little to help customers whose financially-related account information has been placed at risk. Most companies offer little more than a free year's worth of credit monitoring. Something that can be bought for between $50 to $100 from the major credit reporting agencies. The best thing a consumer can do is place a freeze on their credit reports. But if their account information or Social Security number already has been used for credit card fraud or outright identity theft, they're facing many painful hours and hundreds of dollars lost trying to regain control of their name. Not to mention the hassle of rebuilding credit.

The bad news for IT security managers is that there are now more than 35 individual state security breach laws, many different than SB 1386. There's little hope in being compliant to all 35 -- so most enterprises follow California's lead and hope they're in compliance with the rest. But there's risk in this approach, as some states have lower standards that trigger a breach notification.

What's needed is a federal law that would establish a clear and consistent mandate for customer breach notifications.

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