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Lessons from Greece

Created: 03 Jul 2012 • Updated: 03 Jul 2012
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Christos Ventouris, CISA, CISM, CISSP, and Technology Manager for Symantec, talks about the real-world consequences for information security and management arising from the austerity measures in his home country of Greece.

Greece has voted and is now anchored into the Eurozone. Was it the right decision? There are hundreds of expert economists far better qualified than a humble Symantec Technology Manager to comment on that. But as a fellow Greek citizen, it is clear to me that the tough austerity measures my country is experiencing reveal some very important lessons for business—especially in the technology arena. And those lessons are as relevant to the rest of Europe as they are to the Greek situation.

The message coming loud and clear from businesses we talk to in Greece during these uncertain times is this: “We need to stay competitive and stay in business.” As companies from all over the map struggle with a continuous pressure to reduce costs, their IT departments need to innovate new ideas—smart new ways—to stay ahead and stay in business.

With the IT organisation under pressure to do ever more with ever fewer resources, they need to innovate new, more cost-effective means of protecting their precious information—using data deduplication, for example, to lower the cost of storage under management and shrink the backup window administration time. Or using cloud-based data protection to cut the capex involved in backup management or secure the perimeter.

Another bitter consequence of Greek austerity is the reduction in headcount. It’s sad, inevitable, but unavoidable. As staff are regrettably asked to leave the organisation, there is the consequent temptation for some to take confidential corporate data with them, like emails and customer information. This data loss—either inadvertent or deliberate—can threaten a company’s livelihood, and goes against the grain of their mantra to “stay competitive and stay in business”.

In these circumstances, it is most important than ever for organisations to have in place a watertight data loss prevention (DLP) strategy: a comprehensive, content-aware solution that discovers, monitors, and protects confidential data, whether is resides on the network, on a storage platform, or an endpoint like laptop or an iPad. Cost-effective to implement, DLP safeguards data and ensures it remains where it should—inside the business.

We are also witnessing other, darker repercussions from the economic crisis in Greece that Europe would do well to take heed from. There has been a recent spate of attacks by hackers on Greek government websites, as anger grows over spending cuts the country has pledged to implement as part of its EU/IMF bailout to avoid bankruptcy. Recently, for instance, the Greek chapter of Anonymous  has launched #OpGreece, an operation to attack government and enterprise infrastructures and has hacked the website of the Greek Ministry of Justice, posting a video to protest against the austerity measure. During April, hackers broke into the servers of Greece’s Finance Ministry, in protest at government plans to fight tax evasion by tapping into citizens’ bank data. This incident came after a denial of service attack to a new data system of the Greek Health Ministry, causing it to crash for a prolonged period.

There is only one answer here: information security management across the endpoint, gateway, and server threat vectors. A cost-effective unified solution of this sort delivers real-time intelligence to pinpoint security threats, increases the organisational security posture, and prevents threats like hacking and others happening.

The upside to the Greek crisis—and there are very few of them—is that it provides valuable lessons for information security and management that everyone in Europe can learn from.