A company must report a cyber-incident that resulted in the loss of personal data, whether for employees, customers or both
Suffering a breach is probably something that companies won’t admit to unless they must

As the world has grown more and more interconnected through the Internet and company networks, cybercrime has grown at an alarming rate. According to the Federal Trade Commission, 783 businesses reported IT breaches in 2014, up 27.5 percent from 2013. “There were probably many more, but most go unreported,” says Kim Phan, of council with the Washington, D.C., law offices of Ballard Spahr LLP

Protecting consumer data

Suffering a breach is probably something that companies won’t admit to unless they must. A company must report a cyber-incident that resulted in the loss of personal data, whether for employees, customers or both.

In the Target Stores incident in December 2013, hackers stole credit and debit card information for 40 million Target customers along with contact information for 70 million more individuals. Hackers compromised credit card data for 56 million JP Morgan Chase customers in September of last year. The list of major hacking incidents goes on and on.

In most major cases, the victimised companies must notify their employees and customers, enabling them to take steps to protect their identities and credit. “The states are far ahead of the federal government in legislation related to cyber-intrusions,” says Phan. “Forty-seven states now have regulations requiring companies to notify people whose personal data has been breached.”

The federal government may be behind the states in this, but the Federal Trade Commission has been quite active in evaluating company security measures after a breach. The Commission imposes penalties if it determines that a company has failed to provide reasonable security measures.

What is reasonable? There are no hard and fast regulations. The area is too new, continues Phan. Companies should monitor how state and federal regulators are shaping their responses to company breaches. They should also pay attention to the results of legal actions brought by a long list of parties that may be injured by a breach: consumers, financial institutions, shareholders, and others.

The Federal Trade Commission has been quite active in evaluating company security measures after a breach

Ballard Spahr attorneys advise developing a risk-based data security program that consists of three components. First, identify all information assets; record their physical locations — some assets may be in more than one location; and identify the person responsible for each of the assets.

Second, carry out a formal risk assessment. What are the network vulnerabilities? Where and how might a hacker break into your system? What weaknesses have past incidents attacked? How have you shored up the weak points on the network? Depending upon the amount of data involved, a company might retain an IT security professional to conduct the assessment and make recommendations. Third, develop a security program that addresses your network’s vulnerabilities.

Developing a security program

The first step in IT security is physical security. If someone steals your computer or uses your computer to steal files on your network, the game is over before it starts. So lock the doors and lock the buildings where the physical components of IT systems reside.

In his book, “The Basics of Information Security,” Jason Andress writes that three kinds of controls mitigate the risks associated with IT attacks. They are physical controls, logical controls and administrative controls.

Again, physical controls are doors, locks, access control systems, cameras and alarms that will let you know when someone is trying to break into — or has broken into — a computer room or computer equipment closet. Logical security covers passwords, biometrics, encryption, firewalls and other intrusion prevention and detection systems.

Administrative security deals with policies and procedures about using the system. For example, many companies set policies that control what components of the network employees at various levels may access. That’s administrative security.

Finally, the Federal Trade Commission notes that vulnerabilities change as technology advances. So it is important to assess risks and vulnerabilities and adjust your IT security program on a continuing basis.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

Michael Fickes End User Correspondent, SecurityInformed.com

In case you missed it

What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology?
What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology?

Perimeter security is the first line of defence against intruders entering a business or premises. Traditionally associated with low-tech options such as fencing, the field of perimeter security has expanded in recent years and now encompasses a range of high-tech options. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology?

Secure access control is helping to shape the post-pandemic world
Secure access control is helping to shape the post-pandemic world

With the continued rolling back of COVID restrictions in the UK, there is a palpable sense of relief. A mixture of mass vaccinations, widespread testing, and track and tracing of the infection is helping to enable a healthy bounce back for businesses – with secure access control taking an important role in facilitating this. However, rather than just being a reaction to the wake of the pandemic, there is every sign that the economy, and consequently the security sector as well, are both rebuilding and reshaping for the long-term new normal. Prioritising Safety Already deemed an essential service even during the first wave of the pandemic, the security industry has of course taken a vital role in protecting people and property throughout the crisis. Now that venues in the UK are starting to reopen again, our services are key to occupancy management and ensuring that disease transmission is limited as far as possible. Access control is also key in reassuring people that their safety is a priority. Making the upgrade It’s all been about choosing the most suitable components and technology that already existed with a few “tweaks”  Businesses and organisations have a duty of care to their employees and the safety of visitors – so controlling access, employing lateral flow testing, and deploying suitable Track & Trace mechanisms are all key components. I think those outside our industry are surprised to learn that most of the technology being deployed and used hasn’t just magically developed since COVID appeared – it’s all been about choosing the most suitable components and technology that already existed albeit with a few development “tweaks” or adjustments for the situation at hand. This includes using or installing facial recognition readers rather than using fingerprint or contact tokens, it is swapping to automatic request to exit sensors instead of buttons; it is using powered secure doors rather than having people all grab the same handle. Using mobile credentials is also a key technology choice – why not use the highly secure, easy to manage, cost-effective, and of course contact-free benefits of this approach? Touchless solutions We have seen a clear shift in organisations looking to protect their staff and visitors. For instance, we have a big utility customer in Southeast Asia that has just replaced close to 200 sites using fingerprint readers with an additional facial recognition capability. We have also seen a big rise in demand for touchless request to exit sensors and Bluetooth Low Energy Readers for use with smartphone authentication. Working together Integration of security systems is of course nothing new, but in the post-pandemic or endemic age, it has perhaps never been more important. Installations need to be simple, straightforward, and rapid to help maintain safe distancing but also to ensure systems can be deployed as soon as they are needed. The world is changing and developing rapidly and there is simply no place for systems that don’t work with others or cause the end-user considerable cost and inconvenience to upgrade. This flexible delivery of security solutions perfectly matches the evolving and increasing demands of the market. It’s clear that end-users want systems that work well and can easily integrate with their existing systems – not only security but all the other business components which work in unison with each other over a shared network. Great opportunities ahead The recent work-from-home trend is also clearly changing the way organisations and businesses interact with the built environment. Lots of companies are downsizing, offices are being split up, there is lots of revitalisation and reuse of existing office space – all of which creates considerable opportunities for security providers. UK inflation more than doubled in April 2021 with unemployment figures dropping and the Pound rising in value There are also, in the UK at least, clear signs that the construction industry is rapidly growing again -with a forecast of 8% rebound and growth this year. UK inflation more than doubled in April 2021 with unemployment figures dropping and the Pound rising in value – all positive signs for UK-based security providers. Undoubtedly the highly successful UK vaccination rollout has helped considerably, but there are signs that the Eurozone looks set to improve considerably over the next few months as well. Using integrated access control Undoubtedly the pandemic has made security markets around the world more aware of the benefits of integrated access control in managing the needs of the new normal COVID endemic environment. For example, as a business, we have always had keen interest from the UK healthcare sector, but over the last 12 months, we have seen a big growth in previously modest international markets including Morocco, Kuwait, Bahrain, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand – all of which are very keen to adopt improved access control solutions. Learning the lessons Nobody would deny the last year or so has been unprecedentedly tough on everyone, as a society we have had to make huge changes and sacrifices. Governments, organisations, and businesses all need to be better prepared in the future, to understand the things that went wrong and those that were successful. However, there is a world beyond the immediate pandemic and its effects. Flexible working practices and the changes these will have to the way we live and work will undoubtedly present great opportunities for the security sector in helping the world evolve. The pandemic has been a wake-up call for many organisations with regards to their duty of care to employees – particularly when it comes to mental health and providing a sensible work/life balance. Where we work and the safety of these facilities has received far more scrutiny than before. Flexible security systems Integrated security solutions have a vital role to play in not only protecting the safety of people during the post-lockdown return to work but also in the evolution of the built environment and move towards smart cities - which inevitably will now need to consider greater flexibility in securing home working spaces rather than just traditional places of work. Importantly, powerful access control and integrated security systems need to be flexible to the uncertainties ahead. The COVID pandemic has shown that nothing can be considered certain, except the need for greater flexibility and resilience in the way we operate our professional and personal interactions.

Which security technologies will be useful in a post-pandemic world?
Which security technologies will be useful in a post-pandemic world?

In the past few weeks, the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel has brightened, providing new levels of hope that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. Dare we now consider what life will be like after the pandemic is over? Considering the possible impact on our industry, we asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Which security technologies will be most useful in a post-pandemic world?