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The Expanded Need for Information Protection

September 10th, 2006

Security companies are in a constant race to outwit and outsmart hacker creativity and innovation. Cybercriminals work tirelessly to bring corporate America to its knees. As time has passed, these individuals have found new ways to steal confidential information businesses, putting the company itself and its customers at risk. However, this was not always the case. Looking back only a few years, cyber threats seem predictable by today’s standards. Companies then worked to block them at the network perimeter, keeping their impact to a minimum.

Unfortunately, this procedure has become more and more difficult. Today, employees, partners and customers continually share information, which is often passed in and out of the controlled sphere of the enterprise network. Those outside the network defenses potentially provide cybercriminals with a doorway into the company, which they will exploit to compromise sensitive information for financial gain.

Consequently, many corporations have instituted security policies, hoping to effectively cut these criminals off from access. Industry and government entities have also added their own regulations which have put organizations under greater pressure to ensure online business communications and transactions are protected.

These dynamic changes in the way people conduct business have also changed how companies need to protect their information. Obviously, the network is no longer the perimeter. The people are. Therefore, information protection is no longer about protecting the network. It’s about protecting information wherever it can be found.

Globally Connected

Today, businesses depend on a vast array of connections between other companies and individuals in order for their own business to flourish. As a result, data continually flows between these entities, whose security offerings differ widely. Organizations are dependent on these interconnections for the on-time delivery of goods and services as well as their financial performance.

These interconnections have become increasingly common. For instance, salespeople connect to the corporate network through a hotel network, guests access the Internet through the corporate wired or wireless LAN, mobile workers at kiosks check email and download attachments, and customers transact business online from home Internet connections and public wireless hot spots.

Partners also play a significant role in this new interconnectivity. Online retailers have partners, affiliates and subsidiaries who often have their own group of the same, who have also developed their own network of contacts. This produces a complex maze of cyber-relationships that increases the risk of sensitive data leakage. Confidential information is susceptible to exposure over each of these connections. As a result, protecting data in such an environment requires the elimination of exposures both inside the network and across business boundaries. This means endpoint enforcement through protection, configuration, and usage, as well as endpoint compliance. In other words, businesses need to constantly secure all endpoints and all access points.

However, this issue is complicated by simple user error. Such errors put organizations, their customers, their partners and their employees at risk for a security breach. For example, when Veteran Affairs revealed that an employee’s laptop was stolen, including personal information about 2.2 million active-duty military personnel, it was dubbed one of the nation’s largest security breaches to date.

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