Storing Business Data on Personal Devices: Eight Things Enterprises Must Know

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Storing Business Data on Personal Devices: Eight Things Enterprises Must Know

by Chris Preimesberger

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There Is No Perimeter Anymore

With the convergence of personal and business devices, there is no "inside" or "outside" any longer. Web-facing applications provide direct access to ERP systems, and these vulnerabilities expose internal systems to cyber-criminals. A recent example is the Kneber Botnet, a massive botnet that affected some 75,000 computers at 2,500 companies and government agencies worldwide during 2008 and 2009. Kneber was used to gather log-in credentials to online financial systems, social networking sites and e-mail systems for about 18 months.??í

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Personal Devices Pose a Serious Threat

The portability, connectivity and storage capacity of cell phones, MP3 players, USB flash drives, iPads and many other devices pose security risks. Risks include data leakage/theft and malware; because of several gigabytes of storage capacity, the devices can capture/store massive amounts of sensitive data (for good or bad); and the fact that they are far too easily lost or stolen.

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Cloud Computing Complicates Security Controls

There are no walls, and the risks are concentrated. Few people realize that DBAs have open access to all data within a cloud. Separation of duties is needed; privileged users need to be monitored in real time. Cyber-criminals can get fast access to information using SQL injection; enterprises need to monitor access to sensitive data in real time.

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Virtual Is Now Reality

Increased desktop virtualization on personal devices circumvents traditional defenses. A recent industry study reported that 85 percent of more than 300 IT professionals said they have virtualized at least some of their servers. However, only 28 percent of respondents expressed confidence that their virtual environment is as secure as the rest of their IT architecture. A full 65 percent of respondents indicated they have not implemented a separation of duties policy between the staffers responsible for provisioning virtual machines and other administrator groups. Lost and stolen devices with access to virtualized systems pose a serious threat.

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Compliance Does Not Protect You

Simply being current with federal and local data storage regulations does not affect how airtight a system's data protection may be. Storage regulations, such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley, spell out what should be stored, how it should be stored and for how long, and some basic security requirements. But hackers have always been a jump ahead of the security providers, and even very recent compliance rules can be outdated in a short time.

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Forget About Firewalls

It's no longer about the bad guys on the outside; they're inside, too. The causes are typical: a struggling economy, disgruntled employees and data theft, often through personal devices. Other risks include constantly evolving malware, data leakage and traffic that looks legitimate but isn't.

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Encryption Is Essential

Using smartphones to access corporate databases or store confidential information always opens up risk factors. Device encryption on approved smartphones and other devices should be mandatory within an enterprise. Enterprise security systems should monitor all access to sensitive information.

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Enterprises Need a Layered Defense

Enterprise security should include layers in the data center that monitor access to ERP systems and the database. Administrators should always be on the lookout for unauthorized or anomalous activity.

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