Lack of Coordination Doubles Data Breach Risk

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."

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