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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

South Carolina moves to improve data security

South Carolina recently announced a number of new policies and initiatives aimed at improving the government's data security following a major data breach last year.

Category:   Secure File Transfer

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Data breaches are among the most costly, damaging events that can occur to an organization. Firms of all sizes and every industry have discovered the consequences which can arise from these incidents, to their great detriment. From direct financial losses to tarnished reputations, data breaches can have a lasting impact that should be avoided at all costs.

This is a lesson that the state of South Carolina has learned the hard way. As The Post and Courier reported, the state recently announced a number of new policies and initiatives aimed at improving the government's data security following a major data breach last year.

State security
The news source reported that Governor Nikki Haley called a special meeting of her cabinet to announce the administration's new policies regarding data security. These efforts were the result of a  data breach affecting the Revenue Department, which resulted in the exposure of 5.7 million taxpayer's Social Security numbers and 700,000 businesses' financial data - a data breach which Haley called "a debacle."

This data breach occurred when a government employee opened an email from a cybercriminal, which provided the hacker with the information needed to infiltrate the department's network, the news source reported.

Haley revealed that the new director of the Revenue Department, Bill Blume, has developed an approach to improving the agency's security, an effort which Haley directed the other departments to follow, the news source reported.

According to the news source, Blume's primary focus for improving data security included limited outside access to data, upgrading security technology and constantly monitoring relevant systems.

To further these efforts, the Division of State Information Technology revealed that it has followed the plan devised by Blume and is now taking steps to consolidate and coordinate data security efforts throughout state agencies. Additionally, the organizations' officials noted that they will go through all of the state's information, classifying this data into various categories based upon sensitivity, the news source reported. This division aims to have implemented these more robust security solutions among the majority of South Carolina government agencies by the end of 2014.

Upgraded tools
As Blume noted, a key part of any organization's data security measures must be improved security tools. Without high-quality cybersecurity technology, a firm will inevitably be vulnerable to data loss and exposure.

This means that it is imperative for any organization, be it public or private, to make the right choices when upgrading these solutions. There are a number of key issues which must be addressed to make sure that that the firm remains as protected as possible from the threat of a data breach.

Blume highlighted several of the most important components of any effective data protection tools, including the ability to limit outsider access while simultaneously providing monitoring abilities to relevant personnel. The merits of restricting outsider access are clear. However, monitoring abilities are also essential. Only with sufficient visibility can IT employees successfully ensure that sensitive data is not accessed, viewed or copied by unauthorized individuals.

To this end, high-grade secure file transfer solutions are essential. These tools should allow the organization to track data at all times, including while it is in transit between personnel inside or outside the company.

By investing in these types of data security tools, organizations can not only improve their ability to protect data, but also ensure that they meet relevant compliance standards and even achieve faster data sharing, which can lead to improved efficiency and productivity.