Filed under: Uncategorized
Obviously, information security and risk management are critical issues for any organization, regardless of its size or the industry in which it participates. But maintaining the security of your information and others’ information that you possess, as well as mitigating the risk associated with data breaches, is difficult and getting tougher all the time. This is particularly true in an era in which employees and contractors increasingly use their personal devices and applications to create and store corporate content.
There are some important questions about your organization’s information security status and practices that you should be asking – and that you should be able to answer quickly:
- Do you know how many users in your organization have installed and are using Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive or a similar solution to store work-related documents? If so, do you know what data they are storing there? If so, does your corporate IT department have ready access to this content if, for example, an employee leaves the company?
- Are some of your employees sexually harassing other employees or sharing ethnic jokes through the corporate email system, instant messaging or social media? If so, can you readily identify these people in real time or near real time and take appropriate steps to ensure that it stops immediately?
- Are any of your employees sending sensitive or confidential information to your competitors?
- When the corporate email system goes down, do your employees use their personal Webmail accounts to continue sending work-related emails? If so, are these emails and their content easily recoverable by your IT department so that they can be scanned and archived in compliance with corporate policies?
- When employees leave the company, is there a formal and reliable process for decommissioning their access to corporate resources, including their access to personally managed repositories that store corporate content?
- Do ex-employees still have access to your corporate systems and/or data assets?
- Do users employ very strong passwords to access corporate resources? Do they change them periodically? Are corporate passwords managed by IT?
- When users need to send files that are larger than can be sent by your corporate email system, do they use a corporate-managed solution to do this?
- Do users encrypt emails when necessary, such as when sending customers’ personal financial information or employees’ protected health information?
- Have employees received formal training about protecting themselves and the organization from phishing or spearphishing attacks? If so are they tested periodically to determine if the training has been effective?
- Is your organization archiving business records to satisfy eDiscovery, regulatory or other obligations? If so, are you archiving them in email only, or in every venue they might be found, such as instant messaging, social media, Dropbox, Salesforce Chatter, etc.?
- Is the content from employee’s smartphones and tablets – whether company or personally owned – archived on a continuous basis?
These questions are the just the tip of the iceberg with respect to the types of questions you need to be asking – and that you should be able to answer quickly and accurately.
Filed under: Uncategorized
In late May 2014, Osterman Research conducted an in-depth survey of 164 organizations and their archiving system migration plans. We surveyed primarily mid-sized and large organizations across a wide range of industries. Key findings from the research include the following:
- The typical archiving solution has been in place four years and eight months (median is 36 months).
- There is not a high level of satisfaction with current archiving solutions. For example, only 60% of organizations are “pleased” or “extremely pleased” with the current archiving solutions’ ability to place legal holds on content, only 52% are this pleased with the speed of the solution’s search performance, and only 44% are this pleased with the ability to delete content when necessary.
- Moreover, we found significant differences in the level of satisfaction with archiving solutions based on their age. For example, organizations with archiving systems that are more than three years old are nearly twice as likely “not to be pleased at all” with their ability to place legal holds on content (14.5% for older systems vs. 7.6% for more recent systems), the ability to establish different retention policies (16.7% vs. 11.0%), and the scalability of the system (15.2% vs. 11.2%).
- We also discovered a significant difference in the penetration of cloud-based archiving based on the age of the system: organizations with an archiving solution no more than three years old have placed 33.4% of their archived content in the cloud compared to only 13.2% for older solutions.
- Finally, we found that 7.6% of the organizations will “definitely” replace their archiving solution over the next 18 months while another 27.2% will “probably” do so, as shown in Figure 1. Not surprisingly, organizations with older archiving solutions in place are much more likely to definitely or probably replace their archiving solutions during the next 18 months (39.8% vs. 30.1%).
We published a white paper that goes in-depth on archiving migration that you can download here.
Filed under: Uncategorized
There has been substantial press coverage about how recruiters examine job candidates’ social media profiles to gain a bit more insight about prospective employees. While the merits and ethics of doing so are subject to substantial debate, there is evidence to suggest that social media can provide some interesting clues about how vulnerable some people are to phishing scams.
For example, 100 students from an undergraduate psychology at the Polytechnic Institute of New York were sampled. These students a) completed a survey focused on their beliefs and habits with regard to online behavior; b) asked about how likely they thought they would be the victim of online crime, such as password theft; and c) completed a personality assessment survey. After completing these activities, these students were then sent obvious phishing emails.
One out of six of those tested – most of whom were engineering or science majors – fell for the scam emails. Ignoring the gender differences of those who were most likely to fall for the phishing emails in this study (nope, you’re not getting me into that Vietnam War), the researchers found that hose with the most “open” personalities – i.e., those who are most extroverted – were more likely to fall for phishing scams. The findings strongly suggest that people who overshare on Facebook or Twitter, for example, are more likely to become victims of phishing scams and other online fraud than those who are more introverted, share less or who don’t even have social media accounts. Another study found that younger students (aged 18-25) were more likely to fall for phishing scams than their younger counterparts.
So why the differences:
- Extroverts tend to be more optimistic overall and so may be less inclined to assume that suspicious emails are being sent to them for nefarious reasons. Introverts, on the other hand, are generally less optimistic and so may be more skeptical of the world around them, including of emails that don’t seem quite right.
- Extroverts may have a perception of upside benefit vs. downside risk that is at odds with the needs of the corporate security model. For example, the ability to gain some perceived benefit by responding to an offer in a phishing email or friending a stranger in social media may overwhelm whatever training users might have received about the risks of these kinds of behaviors.
The issue for corporate security managers is obviously good user training and robust security technology. However, the missing element may end up being the critical need to evaluate those personality types that are most vulnerable to being fooled by phishing scams, malicious social media contacts and the like.
Years ago I worked for Dr. John Ryan, a very bright man who is now a senior manager at Google. He would periodically mention in talks that fighter jets are getting lighter and faster over time, so much so that if you extrapolated their weight and speed far enough into the future, they would eventually weigh nothing and fly infinitely fast. He would then ask what that described…the answer was software.
I attended EMC World this week and came away reminded of that story. One of the key themes at this annual conference was “the third platform” – the growing movement toward lightweight applications and rapid application development focused on the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce and society. Although the first platform (mainframes) and second platform (client/server and Web) are still quite relevant, the third platform, characterized by increasingly rapid development and lighter applications as we migrate toward the Internet of Things, represents the direction that computing is moving, and rather quickly at that.
What are the implications?
- It means very rapid application development that integrates data, analytics and applications in a continuously evolving loop to generate applications and updates to them very quickly, sometimes in just a matter of hours instead of the months or years that traditional software development requires.
- It means a zero-tolerance for downtime, since applications are updated on-the-fly instead of the traditional model of bringing down a server, installing the update and then bringing it back up – or worse, having the server or the application break (this point was driven home in one session that showed the healthcare.gov Web site and its downtime message seen and enjoyed by millions). That doesn’t mean that servers won’t ever go down in the third platform, only that the third platform is designed to operate with no scheduled downtime.
- It means that every company becomes a software company (sort of) in the model of Google or Facebook, designing applications for customers to use as an interface to services instead of the traditional customer service model.
- It means that data volumes increase exponentially as large volumes of rich data replace the text-based systems of the first and second platforms.
- It means a continued shift toward massive amounts of CPU power and very cheap storage, all of which is allocated dynamically based on the workloads that need to be addressed at the moment.
I was impressed by EMC’s approach at the conference in a couple of ways. First, the company today derives at least 95% of its business from the second platform. Some companies might wait until they were bleeding profusely before entertaining a shift to a new business model, but EMC seems to be reasonably proactive about shifting their business away from their bread and butter. There’s something to be said for management that can not only read the handwriting on the wall, but to heed its advice before it’s too late. Second, EMC were quite frank about where they have not done a good job. That may have been because they were talking to an analyst community that would have seen through fluffy platitudes anyway, but I got the impression that there is a new level of frankness on the part of the company’s management – quite refreshing for such a large company.
Also impressed by EMC’s acquisition of DSSD, a seemingly well-funded, very stealthy, four-year-old startup focused on developing very high-speed flash memory arrays. Don’t know much about them, and EMC was not overly forthcoming on the specs for their technology, but this certainly bears watching. GigaOM had a good article on DSSD last year that you can view here.
EMC, like all hardware companies, is making a somewhat painful set of transitions: most notably to the third platform and to a cloud-delivery model that often just means customers want to pay less for what they already have. On balance, EMC seems to be making the transition fairly well.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: email, healthcare, hipaa, hitch, messaging, net mail
We have recently conducted a healthcare-focused survey for Netmail and found that HIPAA violations are just waiting to happen. For example, our research found that:
- 33% of the organizations we surveyed do not have a data loss prevention (DLP) solution that will monitor outbound email for potential HIPAA/HITECH violations.
- 20% have not established any anti-spam, anti-virus, DLP, encryption or other standards with organizations with which they have HIPAA Business Associate Agreements.
Our research also found that various file-sharing and social media tools are used in healthcare organizations, including Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, SharePoint, Novell Vibe and a variety of other tools. While these tools are quite useful and almost always work as advertised, their use in a healthcare-related environment – hospitals, clinics, medical practices, doctors’ offices, insurance companies, benefits administrators and others that share PHI – might not be a good idea without the appropriate technologies in place to protect against accidental or intentional disclosure of confidential or sensitive information.
As a result, many of the organizations we surveyed aren’t all that confident that they’re managing their data very well. For example:
- Only 59% of those surveyed believe that their organization is doing a “good” or “great” job at managing compliance.
- The same proportion believes they are doing a good or great job at preventing data leaks.
- 58% think they’re doing a good or great job at managing secure file sharing.
Interestingly, neither HIPAA nor HITECH require that PHI be encrypted during transmission or at rest, although some states require encryption, including Oregon and Minnesota. As a matter of best practice, however, all Covered Entities and Business Associates should encrypt data to ensure that unauthorized parties cannot intercept PHI.
For more information on our research and a discussion of these issues, check our blog post here.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: account fraud, bad actors, cybercrime, online identity fraud
Criminals and other bad actors are rapidly evolving their online identity fraud techniques to move quickly and commit their crimes. More hackers and bad actors are attacking enterprises than ever before, fueling a sense of urgency around finding timely solutions to reduce risk for online services, credit card processors, e-commerce merchants and consumers. Consequences include:
- Cybercriminals signing up for new accounts using fraudulent information including bogus user names, email addresses, and domains. This access readies attacks against online service providers and can quickly damage a trusted brand’s reputation.
- Bad Actors hijack legitimate registered customer accounts using valid customer login and password data. All for unlawful purposes such as sending high volumes of spam to distribute malicious software or phishing scams designed to defraud consumers of financial information by masquerading as a trustworthy entity.
- Organized thieves employ stolen financial assets including credit card numbers and account information to place orders for goods or services.
Online identity fraud impacts revenue and customer growth, and can seriously damage reputation, brand image, and halt expansion into new markets. The FBI classifies a stolen identity as a powerful cloak of anonymity for criminals and terrorists…and a danger to national security and private citizens alike.
Online identity fraud impacts a wide range of online service providers and other organizations:
- Providers of digital goods, those with nearly instantaneous delivery, such as computer software downloads; eGift cards; travel services; eTickets for entertainment events; music and other downloadable digital media; digital items within games and social networks, etc.
- Providers of digital services, such as cloud-based email services, CRM services (e.g., Salesforce.com), ERP services, cloud-based storage, and online broker services such as Airbnb and Uber.
- Sellers of physical goods that maintain an e-commerce site, such as Amazon, eBay, Craigslist or any of the hundreds of thousands of other online retailers worldwide.
- User-generated content sites that provide ratings and reviews, such as Yelp, OpenTable, Angie’s List, Citysearch or Yahoo! Local Listings.
- Any of the 1,000+ social networks in use worldwide – such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn – that can be used by cybercriminals to distribute spam or links to malware-focused sites and, through the use of social engineering, can easily infect legitimate users.
We have just written a white paper about bad actors – and what you can do about them – which you can download here.