The Information Heist: a Lead to Serious Data Valuing

Posted on: April 1, 2015 by David Storch

We are all witnessing some of the greatest thefts in history, but few people seem to be taking note.

Numerous entities - ranging from individual hackers, dubious cyber-collectives, corporate bodies and even governments - are quite literally stealing everything from email data to design patents. Everything is at risk. Intellectual property and processes that have taken businesses decades to develop and refine can now be stolen in a few clicks.

New Thinking for Data Security

While traditionally a business has held its value in physical assets, today’s organisations are more than a collection of computers, buildings or staff. They are made up of ideas, knowledge and information. This presents a real problem: while physical assets can be secured via physical means, securing mission-critical data is somewhat more elusive.

Take Fort Knox as an example: gold bullion is heavy, its storage vaults can be defended and should a thief manage to sneak some gold out, it would then need to be transported in big, conspicuous trucks.

Defending against theft of IP and cyber espionage is a very different matter (data security). In many cases, the victim does not even know a crime has occurred. This only adds to the threat level – the less a business knows, the more powerless it is when trying to minimise an incursions’ impact.

Mobile devices have played an enormous part in opening businesses up to these threats. While previous generations of CIOs only had to worry about data leaks from a limited collection of servers, the rise of the mobile workforce has added a new level of complexity to the beleaguered CIO’s fight for data security.

Locking Down Data

Easy access to ‘plug-and-play’ cloud services has seen employees placing company data into a host of unapproved environments, often with the best intentions but rarely with the CIO’s permission.

Businesses are their IP, their processes, their plans—but all this information is digitalized and accordingly more available than most people realize.

There’s a curious phenomenon when it comes to all things ‘digital’: people appear to think that digital things, sometimes being intangible, are immune to theft, or at least they don't defend digital assets the way they do more concrete assets. We are left with this paradox: people will post mission critical information into an insecure environment and then wonder how it is stolen. Further education and a change in mindset will be required so we put a virtual lock on our data! It’s hard not to be left exasperated; even a 10-year-old knows to put a lock on her diary.

I had a look at ways that organisations can secure mobile devices across their business in my earlier posting…

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About David Storch
Security Consultant IV
David Storch is a displaced American and, worse, a displaced New Yorker. He finds the customs and language of the inhabitants of the UK curious but only occasionally alarming. Unlike many of his peers, David has almost no interest in gadgets. He thinks if you have a Facebook page this is proof that you have too much time on your hands and misaligned priorities to boot. He does however have a SatNav and thinks it the greatest invention of the last few centuries. He has an MBA and is interested in the intersection of technology and ‘life improvement’, which can then be translated into business and consumer benefit. With a background in Marketing, he likes to separate real value from purported value, dissecting the facts from the fiction. He likes to think about Big Problems and Large Issues. His favourite quote of late is ‘May you live in interesting times.’ He misses good pizza.