Data breaches seem almost ubiquitous in the past few years. Companies such as Target, Home Depot, and recently Experian experienced breaches resulting in tens of millions of records being leaked. There is more to these than just hackers or a single point of failure. Many times, breaches are can be a perfect storm of conditions that could have been handled individually, greatly reducing the risk of a breach, and lessening their impact should they occur.
It has been said for a long time that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Cliché as it may be, this is no less true when it comes to information privacy. Running tests, such as those that detect vulnerabilities in your system, can find problems before they actually become a problem.
Recently, I reviewed breaches, including the breach of ten million customers from Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield in New York. They were breached, but interestingly the breach took place as early as December of 2013. That means that a person or group with malicious intent had access to information for almost two years. Once they detected the issue, I can only imagine someone thought something to the effect of “if only we found this sooner.”
An assessment, penetration test, or security audit can be the saving grace that stops an attack before it starts. Additionally, while internal security and privacy teams show a commitment to protecting your customer and employee information, it is also important to have third parties available as well. An impartial team will give you information that allows you to act, improving security and closing holes in your security.
Remember that you cannot stop every breach, but you can detect them and act quickly. A breach that occurs over days will pale in comparison to one which occurs over months. Privacy is about information and the more you have, the more effectively you can act.