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February 2007

Encrypt It

Unencrypted data at rest is data at peril. Since Bank of America disclosed in 2005 that it lost a backup tape with customers' personal data, nearly 30 other companies have reported similar embarrassing mishaps. The list of organizations losing tapes with sensitive personal information includes many high-profile names: Ameritrade, Time Warner, CitiFinancial, ABN Amro Mortgage Group, People's Bank, Con Edison, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Chase Card Services. The breaches affected millions of people, resulted in millions of dollars in direct costs, and even more in indirect costs. Direct costs include notifying customers of the breach, estimated at $5 to $10 per person, and the expenses associated with controlling damage to the brand, such as advertising in national newspapers. Indirect costs stem from damage to the brand. A loss of trust can easily cause some customers to depart, or potential customers to choose another company to do business with; either way, it's lost revenue. The key to your organization ...

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