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Another Reason to Care About Security

By Steve Jones,

This is likely a short and quiet day for many of you with Thanksgiving in the US tomorrow. Most people have tomorrow off in the US, and those that do business with the US may have a quiet couple of days with little communication from the US. A good time to catch up on things.

Before you go, I want you to think a bit about security today, and perhaps across the weekend before you come back. Security is important, and many of us that work in the data world know this. We see more and more data breaches occurring every week, with the rate of incidents at this point being a little over 4 per day. These are losses of data from all sizes and kinds of companies from household names to local law firms and retails organizations. 

Most of us work for some company that has data, and we know a portion of this deserves protection to ensure we don't need to pay for identity insurance or get fined by the government. There's another reason to care about security: branding. There's a survey that just came out, which notes that consumers are likely to stop using a brand if there's a data breach. There's a report on the survey as well, if you don't want to give up more data to get the data.

Consumers note that many would stop working with a brand if there were a data breach, but that might not mean not using that service, just not using their online services. This makes some sense in some industries, but not others. I also know that consumers can be emotional and look to leave a service, like a mobile phone provider, after a breach, to move to a new provider. In many cases, this may create churn as most providers have had some breach, and it's entirely possible whoever is last is the one losing customers this quarter.

What I did find interesting is that more consumers are being careful what information they share, preferring to use official portals rather than email, even avoiding clicking on links. To me, this is only a matter of time before customers stop providing most voluntary information, or the start to make up data values. That might be a problem for those of us that look to analyze data for our employers. If quality falls, perhaps we're less valuable.

We need to do a better job of securing system, patching them against vulnerabilities, writing better software, and preventing exposure of data. We've gotten better in recent years, but we need to do more work, including avoiding keeping extra copies of sensitive data in development and test environments. It requires work to mask or remove this data, but it's better than the risk of accidental exposure and brand damage.

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