There has been a “dirty little secret” in security that the risks associated with compliance violations, brand damage and remediation costs simply are not sufficient to encourage ubiquitous use of multi-factor authentication, encryption of sensitive data and other proven controls for preventing breaches. This has been a major contributing factor behind the data breach epidemic. (Why is ANY sensitive data unencrypted in this day and age?)
As the frequency of attacks increases and the nature of the threats change, companies are playing a game of Russian roulette with hackers. They are not utilizing an encryption security infrastructure and risking an attack that will leave privileged customer information available for these criminals to use.
In the first three months of 2014, there were 200 million records stolen according to the Breach Level Index. In 2013, we saw some of the biggest players in retail get hacked and there seemed to be few negative financial consequences for these companies. Stock prices and company reputation have rebounded back to normal within a few months. Shoppers are comfortable patronizing these businesses again, even the customers whose information was hacked.
Only one company recently suffered serious side effects of being hacked. Code Spaces was forced to close its doors after an attacker compromised their internal systems. The company has said, “Code Spaces will not be able to operate beyond this point; the cost of resolving this issue to date and the expected cost of refunding customers who have been left without the service they paid for will put Code Spaces in an irreversible position both financially and in terms of ongoing credibility.”
The attack on Code Spaces could have been prevented if the company had employed encryption, strong key management and authentication solutions to protect against unauthorized users. They had an IT infrastructure provided by a well known cloud services provider, but they didn’t have the security to back it up. This begs the question: Has security apathy gotten so bad that organizations are willing to risk it all on whether or not a hack will occur?
Four to 10 years ago, organizations would back up their data using a physical backup. There was a tape that would be stored in a safe off site. Because this was all done in the physical environment, there was a process in place to ensure security. Now, with advances in cloud and virtualization, security isn’t done with controls or a process in place. Organizations can’t see or touch what we’re trying to protect and often don’t think about the implications of not protecting this data.
The reality today is that it’s not a matter of if a data breach will occur, but when. When companies play this security game of Russian roulette and do not protect their confidential data, they may feel safe for a time, but eventually they will take a bullet and be breached.
So what can be done to end the security apathy that is permeating businesses now? Companies must move from breach prevention to breach acceptance. They must realize the inevitable will happen. Then they need to formulate a plan on what they need to protect. Businesses should ask, what is the asset? Why am I trying to protect it?
Every company should be focused on the security of data, and security is most effective when it’s brought closest to the data. Encrypt data and protect who can gain access to it. Data is everywhere: in the cloud, virtual environments and on premises. Companies can’t just perform a risk assessment and defend the perimeter.
Most companies aren’t accessing the risks and putting the correct solutions in place for protection. Often, there’s an over complication to security infrastructure. There’s so much information and companies are either lost or apathetic to the true risks. There is a real lack of acceptance that a breach will ever happen to them or that the losses will affect the bottom line.
Hackers today are finding it so easy to compromise a business. The 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report revealed that 79 percent of all breaches were based on a credential that was compromised. With this many breaches and so many technological advances, it is a wonder why companies are still willing to take the risk of being hacked. The sad truth is that we may have to see more companies closing their doors before real change takes place in data security.