When I was a bright-eyed journalism student, hell-bent on changing the world, one of my university lecturers told me that news was only something that someone, somewhere didn’t want you to write. Otherwise, what’s the point? Indeed. I suppose the same could be said for information. What’s the point in stealing something if it’s not worth anything? The intellectual property of corporate giants and banking institutions, and the secrets of international governments and their defence forces, are unquantifiable. The value of such information has created an underworld of cyber crime, where hackers feed off the information stored in data centres around the world.
Everyone I have spoken to, from RSA, Symantec and ICONZ, to IBM and Cisco, has emphasised the importance of robust security policies. It’s futile really, they said, investing in storage and infrastructure if a disgruntled employee or a punk kid in a garage can walk away with millions of dollars worth of information.But despite companies preaching about the benefits of security policies, businesses and individuals remain blasé about their personal information and who has access to it. It has been reported that around a third of all disk drives sold on online auctioning site eBay still contain confidential information once bought.
According to online news site Enterprise Security, disks bought on eBay have contained sensitive information such as the test launch routines of air missiles for THAAD – Terminal High Altitude Area Defense – as well as missile manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s facility blueprints and the social security numbers of its employees. Two disks that were bought in the UK contained medical records, X-ray images and staff letters from the Lanarkshire National Health Service (NHS) Trust.
Most recently the disk drive of a secondhand computer bought on eBay contained details of the US defence system used to shoot down Scud missiles in Iraq. Disks bought by BT researchers in May were reported to have contained bank and medical records, confidential business plans and financial company data.
It is amazing to me that such information is ever allowed into the public domain, yet it happens all the time. The way we receive and impart information is changing on a scale not experienced before. As you will read in the contributing articles, the digital universe is exploding and with that expansion comes enormous responsibility to protect the information we entrust to our governments and banks. But we too as individuals have a responsibility to protect our personal information from pirates that surf the Internet.
I hope you find this edition informative, and as always, feedback is appreciated.Happy reading,
Kelly GregorEditor, IT Brief