6-Part Series: Empower Your Clients & Policyholders To Keep Their Business And Their Data Secure




If a breach does occur, organizations need to quickly take the following actions to help minimize damages. In most cases, working with a company that provides consultation and resolution services for security breaches will ensure a much more efficient and effective response than what can be achieved by internal teams alone.

Identify and stop the leak. Powering down network equipment or entire systems may be a tempting option, but that can sometimes make it difficult to conduct a thorough and effective investigation later. Instead, the business should work to find the security weakness and remove access to the compromised areas. That may mean taking a server or an entire system offline.

Determine the scope of the breach. Have instances of malware or other threats expanded from the primary system into other areas of the network? Was only a subset of records exposed? What kind of information was exposed? Employee information, customer records? Your team needs to confirm where the intrusion occurred and how far it extended.

Notify the affected parties. Whether it was employee files or consumer data that was exposed, your organization must alert the victims to the situation. Provide as much detail as you can, but present only the facts you know. Work with your organization’s breach response consultants and the involved law enforcement agencies to ensure the information provided to victims doesn’t compromise any active investigation.

Develop and deploy a strategy to address the original vulnerability. Before your company can return to normal operations, it’s imperative that the security issue behind the breach be completely resolved and the integrity of the network confirmed.

HELP IS AVAILABLE Fortunately, there are support services available for organizations that experience or suspect a data breach or system intrusion. Experienced forensic investigators can review the situation and work with the impacted company to identify vulnerabilities and deploy measures designed to return the network to a secure state. Specialists also are available to assist in notifying parties who may be affected by the exposure and help the organization navigate compliance issues that may need to be resolved with the various regulatory agencies.

In the event an employee suspects his personal data has been compromised, organizations can provide employees with the tools and resources necessary to address the situation. Identity management services are available to help investigate fraudulent activity and resolve cases of identity theft. Fraud specialists can work with affected employees to: secure credit files; restore tampered financial, medical or other records to their original states; help replace important documents; and work with law enforcement agencies to determine what happened and where concerns may still remain.


INCREASE REVENUE Offering your business policyholders identity management services is an excellent way to increase revenue potential. Data defense services should be top of mind for every business and organization today, at a time when breaches are rampant and individuals are increasingly worried about the safety of their personal information. Because it’s an issue on the minds of many—and because both businesses and consumers are aware of the financial harm, emotional toll, and reputational damage an exposure may inflict—being able to offer meaningful support is good for your business policyholders and their employees.

By providing your policyholders with resources that include identity resolution and access to fraud experts, you’re differentiating your services as a trusted adviser and a business partner. You’re also empowering business policyholders to pursue a better security posture and reduce breach risks.

CONCLUSION Fortunately, there are comprehensive services that can help your policyholders understand, prepare for, and respond to a breach or system intrusion. Experienced forensic investigators can review the situation and work with businesses or organizations to identify vulnerabilities and deploy measures designed to return the network to a secure state. Specialists also are available to assist in notifying parties that may be affected by the exposure and help organizations navigate compliance issues that may need to be resolved with the various regulatory agencies.

Regarding the 5 billion connected devices in use today. So-called “smart” devices are transforming healthcare, transportation, our homes, our energy infrastructure, and more. However, the capability of these devices and our ingenuity in harnessing them are growing faster than our ability to secure them from information theft. Each new device adds to the potential attack surface for cyber attackers, and we’re already challenged in protecting the information systems that we have, as evidenced by the number of successful cyber attacks in the headlines almost every week.

Tech industry leaders, government agencies, and security experts recognize the dangers ahead and are beginning concerted efforts to solve the security challenges, but with 5 billion smart devices already in use and more being deployed daily, the security gap won’t be narrowing any time soon, so businesses need to incorporate the IoT into their own privacy and security planning. The IoT, Its Promise and Peril Smart devices are proliferating fast.

Personal things: According to the Pew Research Center (http:/ /www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphoneuse-in-2015/), two-thirds of Americans (around 215 million) now own a smart phone, and almost 20 percent of Americans use their smart phones to access online services and information. But Computer Science Zone predicts that 2015 will be an inflection point for growth in all kinds of personal smart devices: tablets, “phablets” (phone/tablet hybrids), wellness devices such as the FitBit, smart watches, and smart keychains, are all becoming increasingly popular.

Moving things: The advent of self-driving cars has been raising a lot of safety questions in recent months. Cars and other vehicles now play host to a number of smart devices that can pose risks to information safety. Boats, trains, and automobiles all now use digital control systems. In addition to vehicle control systems, GPS devices, communication systems, diagnostic systems, and other on-board devices can be hacked to endanger vehicles or the privacy of the passengers.

Industrial things: Smart devices are used to help keep our industrial society running at peak efficiency, from manufacturing lines to inventory tracking and power plant operation. Some of these devices are new and others have been in operation for decades, and both have security issues. In fact, FP reported (http:/ /www.computerweekly.com/news/2240232680/Industrial-control-systems-What-are-the-security-challenges) that security firm Kasperky Labs considers targeted attacks on computer industrial control systems (ICS) to be the biggest threat to critical national infrastructure. Cyber-attacks on some of these devices could cause havoc to a business, a massive attack could damage our economy, and an attack on a dam or nuclear plant could result in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Monitoring things: Anyone who watches television crime dramas knows that we are surrounded today by a maze of cameras and other sensors (although it’s unlikely that every police department really employs an attractive cyber geek who can instantly tap into any camera or computer on the planet). Connected devices are being used to monitor everything from available parking spaces or noise levels in a city to optimal operation of a refrigeration unit, water pressure, etc. These things can help to make our lives more convenient and sustainable, but they can also lead to big security headaches. The personal financial information of up to 110 million Target customers was compromised when hackers broke into Target’s networks using credentials of an HVAC subcontractor that provides temperature and energy consumption monitoring services.

Little Devices Can Pose Big Risks Many smart devices, in themselves, pose low security risks. Disaster could certainly strike if a hacker took control of an airplane or a car or a nuclear power plant, but why would a cyberattacker care about an open parking space or the temperature of a grocery chain’s refrigeration units? In most cases, the issue is not so much the devices themselves as the information that they transmit—a thief might be very happy to learn from your GPS unit that you are far from home—or the fact that the devices often have little or no security and connect to large networks full of sensitive and valuable information.

The Internet of Things is hard to secure for many reasons. Some of the devices, such as industrial controllers, have been in use for decades and run on outdated software with known security holes. For many of the device manufacturers, security is an afterthought, if it is thought of at all.

Even if manufacturers do build in security, as IoT security experts say hackers can easily purchase any IoT device, which will often contain the same security features of other, identical devices already deployed in hundreds or even thousands of homes. Unlike servers or networking equipment, which are usually hacked through remote access points and reside in protected and monitored environments, IoT devices are more accessible to malicious threat actors.

As with any other operating system, security flaws in IoT device software are being discovered and exploited faster than they can be patched. The sheer number of devices means that IT departments can’t keep track of or manage patches on the ones in use for business, and they have to rely on users to install timely patches on the personal devices they use to access business networks.

Why You Need to Get Smart About the IoT It would be hard to name a business today that isn’t touched by the Internet of Things. Even if your organization isn’t involved in transportation or manufacturing or utilities, you almost certainly have customers and employees who access your network with mobile devices. Every business needs to consider smart devices as part of its risk management strategy. According to a new report (http:/ /www.isaca.org/pages/2015-risk-rewardbarometer.aspx) from the Industrial Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) shows that 73 percent of IT professionals already consider it likely that their company will be hacked through a connected device.

The Internet of Things is transforming lives and offering businesses new efficiencies and new opportunities, but every advance in information technology has brought new security risks, and the IoT is no exception. The business risk of not embracing the Internet of Things—and falling behind competitors—is not an option. Smart devices are just one more area for privacy and information security professionals to be aware of and to include in security programs and incident response plans.

Click here to watch my exclusive web class replay of, 5 Steps You Must Take Immediately to Protect Yourself and Your Clients… Not Implementing Them Could Cost You a lot of Money and Your Reputation!