Can't data get a little privacy around here? Nope. One moment someone is secretly stealing it and the next a government agency is outright demanding it be handed over (and also secretly stealing it). Like they say, information is the new oil. Those who are in control of it can wield a lot of power. So long as this is true --and really there's no end in sight -- data security issues are everyone's problem.
By now we're pretty hip to how a certain government agency gets at our information. But what of the hackers who lately seem to have the run of the store? The New York Times, The Washington Post, LexisNexis, Kroll and Dun & Bradstreet are a few who've recently suffered data comprise. This week it was Adobe. More than 2.9 million customers' credit card information, as well as Adobe's source code for several software titles -- including ColdFusion and the Acrobat family of products – were compromised. They make it seem easy, and in a roundabout way, it is because there's almost always a door someone forgot to lock.
In this week's lead Searchlight item, journalist/blogger Brian Krebs explained how he and a fellow security expert Alex Holden happened upon the apparent source of the data breach. How did it happen? The investigation suggested: "The attackers appear to have gotten their foot in the door through 'some type of out-of-date ' software."
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Go ahead and chuckle, if you must, but it's not as uncommon as you think and not the worst story out there by far. Data security issues have reared their sneaky heads in more eye-roll-inducing places. In a conversation earlier this year with former White House CIO Theresa Payton, now turned CEO of her own cybersecurity consulting firm, I got a little inside scoop about the ridiculous ways companies have seen their data compromised. It can all start with something as seemingly innocuous as discussing a project on social media or getting a little too specific about your work on LinkedIn.
As information becomes currency, it has never been more important for CIOs to have a handle on data security. And this means considering all the moving parts, on all fronts. You're the one helping run a business; the hackers have all day to spend looking for the tiny window left open -- or the software that was never updated.
- Adobe's data security issues could happen to any company, because unfortunately, everyone makes silly mistakes.
- There are some really good reasons why data scientists should be America's 21st century factory workers. Shockingly, "because they'd look extra sexy in Rosie the Riveter-esque headscarves" was not one of them.
- Amid all the intrigue associated with the Silk Road shutdown, someone finally addressed the most nagging question: How do you seize non-existent currency?
- Making data centers more energy-efficient? Oh, graphene, is there anything you can't do (once science figures you out)?
- Speaking of energy efficiency, with the major influx of mobile devices into developing nations where battery-charging capabilities are scarce, Intel thinks it can shed some light on the problem.
- A quick take on why top Microsoft shareholders would like to CTRL+ALT+DEL Bill Gates as company chairman. If you guessed, "Uh, money," well, yes you're right, but you still should check out this story.
Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, senior features writer.
This was first published in October 2013