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Logical Asset Security

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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Data Security, Protection, Sharing, and Dissemination

Data security is the protection of data from unauthorized activity by authorized users and from access by unauthorized users. Although laws differ depending on which country an organization is operating in, organizations must make the protection of personal information in particular a priority. To understand the level of importance, consider that according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (www.privacyrights.org), the total number of records containing sensitive personal information accumulated from security breaches in the United States between January 2005 and December 2015 is 895,531,860.

From a global standpoint the international standard ISO/IEC 17799 covers data security. ISO 17799 makes clear the fact that all data should have a data owner and data custodian so that it is clear whose responsibility it is to secure and protect access to that data.

An example of a proprietary international information security standard is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. PCI-DSS sets standards for any entity that handles cardholder information for credit cards, prepaid cards, and POS cards. PCI DSS version is comprised of six control objectives that contain one or more requirements:

  1. Build and Maintain a Secure Network

    Requirement 1: Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data

    Requirement 2: Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters

  2. Protect Cardholder Data

    Requirement 3: Protect stored cardholder data

    Requirement 4: Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks

  3. Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program

    Requirement 5: Use and regularly update anti-virus software

    Requirement 6: Develop and maintain secure systems and applications

  4. Implement Strong Access Control Measures

    Requirement 7: Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know

    Requirement 8: Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access

    Requirement 9: Restrict physical access to cardholder data

  5. Regularly Monitor and Test Networks

    Requirement 10: Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data

    Requirement 11: Regularly test security systems and processes

  6. Maintain an Information Security Policy

    Requirement 12: Maintain a policy that addresses information security

Privacy Impact Assessment

Another approach for organizations seeking to improve their protection of personal information is to develop an organization-wide policy based on a privacy impact analysis (PIA). A PIA should determine the risks and effects of collecting, maintaining, and distributing personal information in electronic-based systems. The PIA should be used to evaluate privacy risks and ensure that appropriate privacy controls exist. Existing data controls should be examined to verify that accountability is present and that compliance is built-in every time new projects or processes are planned to come online. The PIA must include a review of the following items as they adversely affect the CIA of privacy records:

  • Technology—Any time new systems are added or modifications are made, reviews are needed.

  • Processes—Business processes change, and even though a company might have a good change policy, the change management system might be overlooking personal information privacy.

  • People—Companies change employees and others with whom they do business. Any time business partners, vendors, or service providers change, the impact of the change on privacy needs to be reexamined.

Privacy controls tend to be overlooked for the same reason many security controls are. Management might have a preconceived idea that security controls will reduce the efficiency or speed of business processes. To overcome these types of barriers, senior management must make a strong commitment to protection of personal information and demonstrate its support. Risk-assessment activities aid in the process by informing stakeholders of the actual costs for the loss of personal information of clients and customers. These costs can include fines, lawsuits, lost customers, reputation, and the company going out of business.

Information Handling Requirements

Organizations handle large amounts of information and should have policies and procedures in place that detail how information is to be stored. Think of policies as high level documents, whereas procedures offer step-by-step instructions. Many organizations are within industries that fall under regulatory standards that detail how and how long information must be retained.

One key concern with storage is to ensure that media is appropriately labeled. Media should be labeled so that the data librarian or individual in charge of media management can identify the media owner, when the content was created, the classification level, and when the content is to be destroyed. Figure 2.3 shows an example of appropriate media labeling.

Data Retention and Destruction

All data has a lifetime. Eventually it should either be purged, released, or unclassified. As an example, consider the JFK Records Act. The JFK Records Act was put in place to eventually declassify all records dealing with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The JFK Records Act states that all assassination records must finally be made public by 2017. This is an example of declassification, but sometimes data in an organization will never be released and will need to be destroyed.

If the media is held on hard drives, magnetic media, or thumb drives, it must be sanitized. Sanitization is the process of clearing all identified content, such that no data remnants can be recovered. Some of the methods used for sanitization are as follows:

  • Drive wiping—This is the act of overwriting all information on the drive. As an example, DoD.5200.28-STD (7) specifies overwriting the drive with a special digital pattern through seven passes. Drive wiping allows the drive to be reused.

  • Zeroization—This process is usually associated with cryptographic processes. The term was originally used with mechanical cryptographic devices. These devices would be reset to 0 to prevent anyone from recovering the key. In the electronic realm, zeroization involves overwriting the data with zeros. Zeroization is defined as a standard in ANSI X9.17.

  • Degaussing—This process is used to permanently destroy the contents of a hard drive or magnetic media. Degaussing works by means of a powerful magnet whose field strength penetrates the media and reverses the polarity of the magnetic particles on the tape or hard disk. After media has been degaussed, it cannot be reused. The only method more secure than degaussing is physical destruction.

Physical media should be protected with a level of control equal to electronic media. These issues are covered in much greater detail in Chapter 3, “Physical Asset Security.”

With the discussion of controls concluded, the next section focuses on auditing and monitoring. It is time to review some of the ways organizations can maintain accountability.

Data Remanence and Decommissioning

Object reuse is important because of the remaining information that may reside on a hard disk or any other type of media. Even when data has been sanitized there may be some remaining information. This is known as data remanence. Data remanence is the residual data that remains after data has been erased. Most objects that may be reused will have some remaining amount of information left on media after it has been erased. If the media is not going to be destroyed outright, best practice is to overwrite it with a minimum of seven passes of random ones and zeros.

When information is deemed too sensitive assets such as hard drive, media, and other storage devices may not be reused and the decision may be made for asset disposal. Asset disposal must be handled in an approved manner and part of the system development life cycle. As an example, media that has been used to store sensitive or secret information should be physically destroyed. Before systems or data are decommissioned or disposed of, you must understand any existing legal requirements pertaining to records retention. When archiving information, you must consider the method for retrieving the information.

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