Lack of Coordination Doubles Data Breach Risk

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2007-10-24 Print this article Print

A new survey exemplifies how poor collaboration is hurting companies when it comes to protecting data.

The marketing department tells you when and why its collecting personal data, right? Wrong.

According to a recent survey from Microsoft of 3,600 security, privacy and marketing professionals in the United States, the UK and Germany, 78 percent of respondents believe their marketing department informs security and privacy executives of what its up to with personal data collection, yet only 30 percent of marketers said that that is in fact what they do.
Thats only one finding that exemplifies how lack of collaboration is hurting companies when it comes to figuring out how to protect data. The survey was released on Oct. 23, the same day that the company released its most recent Security Intelligence Report, an analysis of the current threat landscape.
Scott Charney, corporate vice president of Microsofts Trustworthy Computing Group, planned to present the results of the survey in his keynote address at the International Association for Privacy Professionals Privacy Academy in San Francisco. Brendon Lynch, Microsofts director of privacy strategy, told eWEEK that, in a span of time thats seen a 150 percent increase in phishing attacks and a 500 percent increase in the detection of Trojan downloaders and droppers—malware thats all bent on stealing personal data—poor collaboration between organizations data handlers has led to twice as many data breaches over the past two years compared with companies that have good collaboration in place. Security, privacy and marketing professionals all handle personal data, but Microsofts survey—titled "Microsoft Study on Data Protection and Role Collaboration Within Organizations"—found that they all have distinct priorities when they approach it. Marketers are concerned with the organizations reputation and maintenance of trust with customers or other groups. Privacy experts are primarily concerned with regulatory compliance, and security professionals top priority is to protect the organization from attack. Lynch pointed out that on top of having different priorities, the camps report to separate parts of the organization and have separate charters. Security reports to the CIO; the privacy experts report up through the legal side, to compliance executives or sometimes up to the CIO; and marketing is a separate beast altogether. "Marketings instinct is to derive value from the information," Lynch said. "But theyre also interested in privacy and trust. They want to use it responsibly so theres value to the organization." For that to happen, though, there must be collaboration, he said. "Take threats like social engineering attacks, which are trying to find ways through the business model. Thats an example of the need for collaboration: to look holistically at the threat landscape of how people try to get the information and plan accordingly. That needs to involve all three of those groups." Check out eWEEK.coms Security Center for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEKs Security Watch blog.
Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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