United Airlines ‘leak’ poses reminder for all companies with sensitive data

United Airlines is having a tough year so far with the company alerting its pilots this week of an employee accidentally posting cockpit security codes online.

The airline says the codes aren’t the only security measure taken to prevent unlawful access to its plane cockpits, with other protocols and security measures in place. However, this is a disturbing and very real reminder of how sensitive data can fall into the wrong hands if not properly protected, and can be misused to devastating effect.

IBM and Ponemon Institute’s Cost of Data Breach Study 2016 says that while 48% of incidents involve a malicious or criminal attack, 25% are caused by negligent employees or contractors. The report calculates that the average cost per record of a malicious or criminal attack is US$170, with an accidental insider breach costing US$133 per record. So, while it is usually outside threats that generate the most media headlines and cost more to identify and contain, insider threats are still common and pose significant risk and cost.

So, what’s the solution? We believe it is the use of data-level security solutions which allow organisations to persistently control and encrypt sensitive data, ensuring it is always protected however and wherever it is stored or shared. Look for solutions that offer full access and administrative controls, allowing organisations to manage all security and privilege aspects, and provide an audit trail of who has accessed what and when.

Organisations must also understand, put in place and educate employees at all levels on the necessary protection and security policies to combat data security issues. These rules must apply to everyone from the c-suite to the most junior member of staff, as no-one is exempt from a security breach. Data-level protection should never be an afterthought.

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May 17, 2017