By Jaikumar Vijayan
November 08, 2006
ORLANDO -- Regulatory requirements and increasing consumer concerns
about information security breaches are making data-level security
controls a top priority for 2007, according to IT managers at the
Computer Security Institute trade show held here this week.
After years of implementing technologies such as firewalls and
intrusion-detection systems to keep network perimeters safe, companies
now must move similar controls down to the data level, they said.
"The data now matters above everything else," said John Ceraolo,
director of information security at JM Family Enterprises Inc., a $9.4
billion auto distribution and financing company based in Deerfield
Nonpublic information of all sorts needs to be protected, whether it is
at rest or in transit, he said. And that requires an increasing focus on
measures such as data classification and encryption, stronger user
access and authentication and usage monitoring and auditing, Ceraolo
Most of the "blocking and tackling" that was needed to handle network
threats has, to a large extent, already been accomplished via
technologies such as firewalls and intrusion-detection and -prevention
systems, said Mark Burnett, director of IT security and compliance at
Gaylord Entertainment Co. in Nashville.
The goal now is to put multilayered defenses around the data as well, he
said. "We are layering technology controls to make sure we can identify
where the information is passing across our network" and protect it.
"The overall driving force behind our [security] program is reputation
management. We have worked hard to build the Gaylord brand," he said.
"Any one incident could ruin all that work."
Also driving the focus are regulations that Gaylord is required to
comply with, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Payment Card
Industry (PCI) data security standard, which is mandated by the major
credit card companies, he said. "We absolutely recognize the need to
protect sensitive information and are working hard to fulfill that
obligation," he said.
Ann Garrett, the chief information security officer at the North
Carolina state office of information technology in Raleigh, said that a
new state law governing the use of personally identifiable information
has elevated the need for security controls at the data level. The law
went into effect for private industry on Oct. 1 and will apply to state
agencies on Oct. 1, 2007.
"We have a strong network firewall, intrusion-detection system and
intrusion-prevention system," Garrett said. What's lacking are controls
for mitigating user errors at the end point, she said. As a result,
there's an increased focus on data encryption -- and on ways to log and
audit user transactions. "We have to add accountability and
auditability" at the end point, she said.
"There is a whole lot of emphasis on protecting personally identifiable
information right now," Howard said during a panel discussion.
"Congress, the Office of Management and Budget and inspectors general
are looking over our shoulders closely."
Howard's agency earlier this year disclosed that it had lost a backup
disk containing sensitive data on 757 current and former HUD employees.
"We pulled back the sheet and discovered there is a lot to do" to
protect personally identifiable data, Howard said.
HUD plans to have an implementation plan in place by the end of the year
to address issues identified so far, he said. Among the planned measures
are data encryption, two-factor authentication of users and the ability
to more closely monitor user activity.
"There are so many vulnerabilities out there, there aren't enough
hackers to take advantage of all of them," Howard said. So it's
important to take a holistic risk-based approach to securing data and to
understand that it's about "people, process and technology," he said.
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