Happy Data Privacy Day!

Data Privacy DayWhat are you doing to observe it?

Today is Data Privacy Day! If you have been wondering “what is Data Privacy Day?” then this is your lucky day because not only is today Data Privacy Day, but here is the answer and an explanation for why it really matters to you and your company’s future success.

What is Data Privacy Day?

Data Privacy Day is observed every year on January 28 and is led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a nonprofit, public-private partnership dedicated cybersecurity education and awareness. According to the NCSA,

Data Privacy Day is an international effort to empower and educate people to protect their privacy and control their digital footprint.

Data Privacy Day began in the United States and Canada in January 2008 as an extension of the Data Protection Day celebration in Europe. Data Protection Day commemorates the January 28, 1981, signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. Data Privacy Day is now a celebration for everyone, observed annually on January 28.

Data flows freely in today’s online world. Everyone – from home computer users to multinational corporations – needs to be aware of the personal data others have entrusted to them and remain vigilant and proactive about protecting it. Being a good online citizen means practicing conscientious data stewardship. Data Privacy Day is an effort to empower and educate people to protect their privacy, control their digital footprint, and make the protection of privacy and data a great priority in their lives.

14 Tips For Keeping Your Company’s Data Secure

In honor of Data Privacy Day, the International Association of Privacy Professionals (iapp) has posted an article with 14 tips you need to consider when evaluating how to keep your company’s data secure:

  1. Know Thy Data. Determine what data you collect and share. Classify it according to its level of criticality and sensitivity. What could be considered PII? Define whether data is “in use,” “in motion” or “at rest.” Know where the data is physically stored.
  2. Terms and Conditions May Apply. Make sure your privacy policy reflects current data practices (see Tip #1). This includes the use of third-party advertisers, analytics, and service providers. Periodically review and confirm these third parties comply with your written policies.
  3. You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone. Conduct annual audits to review whether your data should be retained, aggregated or discarded. Data that’s no longer used needs to be securely decommissioned. Create a data retention policy dictating how long you keep information once it’s fulfilled its original purpose. And, of course, continually ask whether that purpose is still valid and relevant.
  4. Practice or You’ll Breach. Forged e-mail, malvertising, phishing, social engineering exploits and data snooping via unencrypted transmissions are on the rise. From simple controls to sophisticated gears, make sure you’ve implemented leading security “best practices.”
  5. AYO Technology! Data Loss Prevention (DLP) technologies identify vulnerabilities of potential exposures. These work in conjunction with existing security and antivirus tools. From early warnings of irregular data flows to unauthorized employee access, DLP solutions help minimize and remediate threats.
  6. BYOD Is Like a BYOB House Party. The lack of a coherent bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program can put an organization at risk. User devices can easily pass malware and viruses onto company platforms. Develop a formal mobile device management program that includes an inventory of all personal devices used in the workplace, an installation of remote wiping tools and procedures for employee loss notification.
  7. Insist on a List. To mitigate the grave impact on your organization, inventory key systems, access credentials and contacts. This includes bank accounts, registrars, cloud service providers, server hosting providers and payroll providers. Keep this list in a secure yet accessible location.
  8. Forensics – Don’t Do This at Home. The forensics investigation is essential in determining the source and magnitude of a breach. This is best left to the experts as it’s easy to accidentally modify or disrupt the chain of custody.
  9. Where the Logs At? Logs are fundamental components in forensics analysis, helping investigators understand what data was compromised. Types of logs include transaction, server access, firewall and client operating system. Examine all logs in advance to ensure correct configuration and time-zone synchronization. Routinely back them up; keep copies, and make sure they’re protected.
  10. Incident Response Team to the Rescue! Breaches are interdisciplinary events requiring coordinated strategies and responses. The team should represent every functional group within the organization, with an appointed executive who has defined responsibilities and authority. Establish “first responders” available 24/7 (hackers don’t work a 9 to 5 schedule).
  11. Get Friendly With the “Fuzz.” Reach out to law enforcement and regulators prior to an incident. Know who to contact so you won’t have to introduce yourself in the “heat of the battle.” When you have bad news to report, make sure they hear directly from you (a courtesy call goes a long way). Don’t inflame the situation by becoming defensive; focus on what you’re doing to help affected parties.
  12. Rules, Rules, Rules. Become intimately familiar with the international, domestic and local regulations that specifically relate to your organization. The failure to notify the appropriate governmental body can result in further inquiries and fines.
  13. What Did You Say? A well-executed communications plan not only minimizes harm and potential legal consequences, it also mitigates harm to a company’s reputation. Address critical audiences and review applicable laws before notifying. Tailor your message by geographic region and demographics. Knowing what to say is just as important as knowing what NOT to say.
  14. Help Me Help You. Customers want organizations to take responsibility and protect them from the potential consequences of a breach. The DIP should include easy-to-access remedies that offset the harm to affected parties.

Here is a link to the full post: How to Lose Your Data in 10 Days

The 14 tips are a great place to start when thinking about securing your company’s data. As shown by the recent data breaches that have hit Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels, and Barnes & Noble, the question is no longer one of if your company will have a data breach, but when.

When Your Company is Breached, Your Preparation Will Be Vital to the Company Surviving the Crisis

A data breach is a crisis situation for any company–especially given the amount of attention data breaches are getting these days. From a very big picture perspective, there are two goals to strive for when a company responds to a data breach: (1) avoid, or at least mitigate, any legal and regulatory trouble; and, (2) more importantly, minimize the impact of the breach on the company’s overall business. (see related data breach discussions) The only way your company can achieve these goals is to be proactive by getting prepared before the inevitable occurs–the breach.

If your company is prepared, it is in a much better position to minimize the loss of data, be better able to respond to the breach, and demonstrate to the legal and regulatory authorities that it acted reasonably in protecting its data, which can be very helpful in minimizing the legal and regulatory repercussions, which is the first step. By being prepared and better able to address the first step, the company is then able to focus more of its efforts on polishing its response to be more palatable for its customers and better addressing their feelings and concerns. In other words, if the company is prepared, it is not panicking and scrambling just to get out a response–any response–but instead can take the time to analyze the situation through its customers’ eyes and provide a much better response that takes their feelings and concerns into consideration. This is the vital step because this is what helps preserve the company’s customer relationships.

The best way to be prepared for this is for your company to have a thorough and custom data breach incident response plan. The data breach incident response plan should be tailored to fit your company in many ways, including the following ways just to name a few:

  • the nature of your company’s culture, both internally and externally
  • the nature of your company’s customers
  • the nature of your company’s products or services
  • the nature of your company’s operations and management structure
  • the type, volume, and sensitivity of the data your company collects and retains
  • the security measures your company has in place
  • the resources your company has to devote to data security issues
  • the security standards of your company’s particular industry

Could you figure these things out on your own, with enough time and effort? Probably so — but would that really be efficient? More importantly, and I can not over-emphasize this point enough: You need an attorney to assist you with many of these things because, when done under the guidance of an attorney and if the proper formalities are observed, much of the process can be protected by the attorney-client privilege, but not if you don’t have an attorney assisting with the process.

Help is Only a Telephone Call Away

I have assisted many companies with data security issues from assessing their cybersecurity and data privacy strengths and vulnerabilities, helping them implement policies and procedures for better securing their data, preparing data breach incident response plans, leading them through responses to a data breach, and litigating disputes that have arisen from data breaches. When it comes to cybersecurity and data privacy, I see the whole playing field. If you have questions about how you can help better prepare your company, please feel free to give me a call (214.472.2135) or email me (shawn.tuma@solidcounsel.com).

Boards Had Better Start Paying Attention to Cybersecurity

Yesterday Forbes featured an excellent article that explained why it is important for companies to create Board-level committees to focus exclusively on the issue of cybersecurity. Here is just a teaser but I encourage you to read the entire article.

Step one for every board is to understand that it is supposed to be offering oversight on these risks as part of its fiduciary duty. The board needs to assure there are internal controls in place to protect the corporation’s cyber assets. The stakes are high. A study found that up to $21 trillion in global assets could be at risk from cybercrime. What is needed is a solid board structure for monitoring and managing cyber risk in the company. To begin, I recommend is a series of committee briefings so “cyber security” is demystified and better understood. However, given the complexity and dangers involved, I think the time has come for boards to create a dedicated cybersecurity technology committee.

read more: Why It’s Time For A Board-Level Cybersecurity Committee

#SonyHack shows there are no “safe secrets” in the corporate world – what do you do?

Dishonest Man's WisdomThe #sonyhack will change the way the corporate world operates in many ways that we cannot even yet imagine. Yes, there are obvious data security implications that I usually drone on about, but there is another change that we may see come about.

The now outdated idea that internal corporate secrets will remain corporate secrets. You know, things like email conversations among colleagues containing snide and catty remarks, etc. Not to mention the real corporate secrets — trade secrets and other competitive information.

What does this mean for the way the corporate world does business?

Who knows how far the ramifications will be felt. I doubt it will lead to a rebirth of that outdated thing called the “Golden Rule” when it comes to talking about others, but it just may push folks back into the direction of that other outdated notion of not “putting it in writing” if you do not need to.

Earlier in my legal career I found myself in the unenviable position of having a client’s interests in a lawsuit be aligned with a rather unsavory character. Nah, who am I kidding, the guy was a crook — I mean the stereotypical “snake oil salesman” type.

Once, I asked him if he had any written proof of a conversation that he was telling me about. He laughed, paused, and shared with me some of his dishonest man’s wisdom that I will never forget:

  • Don’t say anything if a nod will do
  • Don’t say something over the telephone if you can say it in person
  • Don’t put something in writing if you can just say it

And, while email wasn’t very prevalent back then, I suspect there would be one more rule if we were having that conversation today:

  • Don’t put it in an email if you can write it on a napkin!

Maybe this dishonest man’s wisdom is not only for the dishonest …

 

The Best Evidence Why Your Company Needs a CISO Before a Data Breach

“The proof is in the pudding,” goes the old saying.

When it comes to organizational changes companies make following a data breach, If the proof is in the pudding, then the verdict is clear: companies should hire a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) before they have a data breach.

Why?

According to this article in USA Today, companies usually tend hire CISOs after they have had a data breach. After?

Yes. They do this because they do not want to have another data breach and, after feeling the sting from the first, they are finally willing to invest more resources so that they do not have another data breach.

There is another old saying to remember: “Wise men learn from their mistakes, but wiser men learn from the mistakes of others.” (author unknown)

As your company’s leader, which will you be?

Check out my first post on Norse’s DarkMatters > Sony Hack: Where Do We Die First?

Hey everybody, go check out my first post on Norse’s DarkMatters blog — yeah, you know, Norse with the awesome Live Cyber Attack Map!

Now that you’re mesmerized by the map, here’s the post and please share it! Sony Hack: Where Do We Die First?

The Art of Data Security: How Sun Tzu Masterminded the Home Depot Data Breach

The Art of Data SecuritySun Tzu taught that, when it comes to the art of data security, you must be wary of your business associates and other third parties.

Why?

Have you heard that Home Depot had a data breach? That hackers were able to exfiltrate 56 million payment cards and 53 million customer email addresses from its systems? Did you hear what may be the biggest news of all, the news that was announced earlier today (11/6/14)?

Do you know what that news has in common with the other “big breach event” from roughly a year ago?

Have you heard of the national retailer that what was hit with a perfectly timed cyber attack on Black Friday ’13 that resulted in credit card data from roughly 110 million customers being taken? That company has now spent over $61,000,000 as a result of the data breach and will spend much more. It is facing new lawsuits weekly, its net earnings are down, earnings per share are down, and its sales are down. The company is Target. Target, however, was not attacked directly.

Do you know how both Home Depot’s and Target’s computer system were attacked?

In both cases, cyber criminals obtained access credentials from third-party vendors to the “big boys” which credentials were used to get inside of their network environment, past the firewalls and much of the security perimeter. Once on the inside, they then used custom-built malware to execute the heist of the valuable data they were seeking all along.

Home Depot also said today that the criminals used a third-party vendor’s user name and password to reach the perimeter of its network, then gained additional rights to navigate the company’s systems. (Bloomberg)

What did Sun Tzu teach us about this technique?

In all fighting the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed to secure victory.

You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you attack places which are not defended.

The spot where we intend to fight must not be made known; for then the enemy will have to prepare against a possible attack at several different points; and his forces being thus distributed in many directions, the numbers we shall have to face at any given point will be proportionately few.

Most businesses focus their energy on securing their own networks but focus very little on examining the networks of their business associates and other third parties that they allow to access their networks.

Around 500 B.C. Sun Tzu taught that if an enemy — a cyber criminal — wants to attack your company’s computer network, they would be wise to do so by attacking indirectly, such as through your company’s business associates and other third-parties who have access to your network. Cyber criminals may be a lot of things, but they are not dumb … the successful ones, anyway.

Target learned.

Home Depot learned.

Will your company?

Stay wary friends.

 

Podcast: #DtR Episode on Lines in the Sand on “Security Research”

You really need to hear this podcast where we draw lines in the sand staking out what is — and what is not — security research

The #DtR Gang [Rafal Los (@Wh1t3Rabbit), James Jardine (@JardineSoftware), and Michael Santarcangelo (@Catalyst)] invited me to tag along for another episode of the Down the Security Rabbit Hole podcast.

Also joining us for this episode were Chris John Riley (@ChrisJohnRiley) and Kevin Johnson (@SecureIdeasllc).

You can click here to see a list of the topics we covered in this episode or just jump straight into the podcast.

Let us know what you think by tagging your comments with #DtR on Twitter!