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Security Response

Where Is Your Personal Data?

Created: 12 Jun 2007 07:00:00 GMT • Updated: 23 Jan 2014 18:48:48 GMT
Ron Bowes's picture
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In today's computerized world, loss of confidential information is far too common. If you look at a good list of personal information data breaches , you will quickly see that a breach occurs almost every day, and that's just in the United States!

Almost everybody knows that databases get hacked and laptops getstolen, both of which can expose all kinds of information aboutcustomers and employees. Information is frequently lost due tomalicious intentions. So security is audited, laptops are encrypted,and a lot of companies take steps to ensure that this type of exposuredoesn't happen. Data is still exposed, but many companies actively tryto prevent it.

I'll start with a story. I know a company that sells acustomer-management solution that once had a demo site, with demo data,which potential customers could play with. After a software upgrade,the demo database was no longer valid, so one of the programmers made acopy of the real production database and put it on the demo site. Itmade sense to the programmer at the time, since he just wanted to getthe demo working again. It was some time before somebody realized thatthe customers, invoices, payments, and quotes were real, and thatanybody could access them. Luckily, the data contained nothing thatcould damage the customers, but it could have potentially hurt thecompany, in the right hands.

If you look at the list of data breaches, you'll see that this typeof exposure is common. An employee might post customer information to aWeb site, mail an invoice to the wrong address, or throw employee filesin a dumpster. Sometimes it's because the employee is unaware that theinformation exists, sometimes the employee doesn't understand thesignificance of the data, and sometimes the employee might just belazy.

In this world of identity theft and fraud, everybody has to do theirpart to handle data in an appropriate manner. Every person who handlesdata should be aware of its significance and their responsibilities tokeep it safe.