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Cybersecurity - How to avoid data breaches

September 04, 2015
From the August 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

The Anthem breach occurred on Dec. 10, 2014, but it wasn’t until Jan. 27, 2015, that suspicious activity (an unaccounted database query) was spotted by a database administrator. During that time, a majority of the 80 million records contained in the compromised database were exposed.

The hackers had access to Anthem’s systems for nearly seven weeks before the breach was discovered. During that time, the hackers must have been running many queries that went unnoticed. One can only speculate, but if Anthem had a team and process in place looking for unaccounted-for queries, the breach might have been spotted right away. I would be shocked if such a team and process aren’t in place going forward.

Embrace audits and penetration tests by outside security experts
Albert Einstein once said “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” No matter how regimented and advanced your internal IT systems are, it’s unavoidable that over time, your staff will develop blind spots. Beyond even that, business needs to continue to drive the need for ever more data collaboration, which drives the need for ever more new technology, which drives new avenues for attack vectors.

A hacker, or as is becoming far more common, an organized team of hackers, only needs to learn one new attack vector then use it on multiple companies. Conversely, your security staff needs to defend against multiple hackers using multiple tactics across multiple technologies. It’s no longer possible to actually perform all of your security analysis internally. Your chief information security officer (or equivalent) must view external experts not as threats, but as resources hired to deliberately highlight and help fix data security threats.

Identifying those threats should be applauded and celebrated, because you can only remedy issues that you’re actually aware of. Senior business management must learn to be highly supportive of receiving external feedback. Conversely, passing an external security audit with “flying colors” or without at least some remediation suggestions must be viewed as highly suspicious. Data security requires an ecosystem of the correct tools, policies, procedures, audits and expertise. Ultimately, senior business leadership must embrace data security requirements as a core requirement for performing business in the 21st century.

About the author: John-Philip Galinski is the CEO and co-founder of Global Data Sentinel (GDS), an end-to-end proactive cyber security platform designed for the enterprise. GDS dramatically increases the security of corporate data across any network and cloud, while proprietary hardware integrates with GDS software to secure data streaming to and from any device.

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