I think everyone has heard of the issues of major corporation computers being hacked into and information stolen. The first big example I remember on this was last year during the holiday season when the Target stores computer was hacked and identity information of some 40 million customers was exposed. In June this year, P.F. Chang’s restaurant reported that transactions from September 2013 until now were also potentially stolen. UPS announced in August that 100,000 transactions from January thru August of 2014 were potentially opened, exposing not only credit card information but names, addresses and e-mail addresses. At the end of August, Home Depot reported their computer was hacked into and credit card transactions at their stores from the period of April thru August of 2014 were exposed.
So what is my point? All of these companies are retail outlets and it makes sense that computer hackers might look to these systems to steal information. I think there are two points. First, this seems to be a recent trend that we haven’t seen before. It means that we need to be more vigilant in our efforts to keep computers and data on those computers secure. Everyone talks about security and confidentiality of data but these large corporations were caught by surprise and smaller businesses that don’t have the resources of a large company are vulnerable as well, perhaps to a larger extent. The second point is this trend has made it’s way into the government contractor market as well. In August, a Department of Homeland Security contractor had a computer breach. This contractor was providing background checks for the DHS and potentially exposed a number of DHS employee’s information. The FBI is currently investigating this. Again, last month it was announced that there was a breach in the Deltek computer system used for timekeeping. This breach exposed many defense contractor’s data. The contractors may see erroneous entries in their personal account or changes in balances. This breach occurred back in March but only recently has been publicized. The FBI is also investigating this breach. It is rumored that an arrest has been made in this case.
I think the fact that some of these computer security breaches are occurring in government contractors systems is alarming. It just goes to prove that we can’t be too careful in today’s computer driven environment. We need to pay attention to computer security and diligently change passwords to help protect data. At ReliAscent, we use cloud based systems to assist our clients. We do this because of the ease of use, the security of information on the cloud, the accessibility and the ability to reduce expenditures on internal IT requirements. All of this is true but we all need to pay attention to the security portion of this. It’s not good enough to look at it once and forget it. We need to pay constant attention to the levels of security and how it is managed. There are companies out there that can evaluate and report to you’re the security of your data and your risk. These services could become more in demand as we move forward. I don’t see the cloud environment going away, mainly due to the benefits I mentioned above. But I do see additional security measures to protect our information on the cloud. It is just part of our changing world. Remember the old adage, “The only thing that doesn’t change is change itself”.