Damon Armour, IT Security Officer, contributing writer
Each year, Verizon releases a report that provides insight into the nature of security breaches. This year’s Data Breach Investigations Report by their Business RISK Team was particularly alarming due to the sheer volume of the cases. Not only was the year 2008 a tough year economically—housing and financial market collapsing, companies freezing hiring and downsizing, etc., but a record high for data losses was reported.
According to Verizon, 90 major breaches occurred in 2008 that resulted in 285 million records lost. Those 285 million records were greater than the previous four years combined. A commonality is that over 2/3 of the breaches were discovered by a third party. Companies that were subject to PCI standards showed that 81 percent of those that had a breach were not in compliance. Also, 99.9 percent occurred on the servers or applications and not through end point exposure.
Who is behind these breaches? Verizon’s report states that 74 percent occurred from an external source. Those reported to be insiders or related business partners generated one-third of all breaches. The volume of records lost, though, was highest among the insider/business partner incidents. Lastly, 91 percent of breach related records were linked to criminal organizations. It found that the financial industry dominates the number of data breaches at 93 percent.
This report only reinforces the need for to safeguard records within the educational industry due to their future value. Many of us on campus have experienced or seen the rise of malware on our workstations. In days past, malware was intended to interrupt services. Today, malware is more likely to be used as a collection service to provide these criminal elements access to our information. Keeping the McAfee Antivirus up-to-date and reporting irregular functions or actions of your computer are effective steps of mitigating these risks.
An IT Audit by the Board of Regents also reinforced the need to safeguard our data on the workstations and on the servers themselves. ITS has been working with departments across campus to migrate our credit card infrastructure to our TouchNet partner (credit card processing firm). ITS is also working to limit the use of sensitive information to only required processes and personnel. ITS is also exploring tools to add additional protection to our perimeter network and log management for our server farm.
All of these tools and improvements still require the dedicated observation and reporting of incidents or irregularities. As a group, ASU can reduce the risk and keep r data safe and secure for our alumni, students, faculty and staff. If you are interested in reading the full 2009 Data Breach Investigations Report, you can find it at this address: http://www.verizonbusiness.com/products/security/risk/databreach/
Please direct any questions or comments to the ITS Security Office (firstname.lastname@example.org). To report any issue or incident, please contact the ITS Help Desk at 737-1482.