Category Archives: Data Security

Five Simple Things Businesses Can Do to Better Secure Their Data

News of data security breaches at one company or another has become so common that perhaps we are becoming immune to the significant impact these breaches can have on those whose information are affected. Not only can identity theft destroy an affected individual’s credit and limit his/her future buying choices, but also it is becoming clear that, philosophically, perhaps our private data really aren’t private anymore. Think of how easy it is to search public records online and find out personal details about a person well beyond what the phone book would have listed in days past. It is harder and harder to keep secrets when the Internet is involved.

Notwithstanding such developing immunity to the shock of a data breach at any particular company, data breaches are very serious events for a company – of any size. In the aftermath, it is not unusual to hear business executives announce that they “never want to go through that again.”

So, what can you do to minimize your company’s risk for data breach? Here are my top five recommendations: Continue reading

Mobile Device Security Policies for Employers – Small and Large

As a business owner, perhaps you have seen articles about setting ground rules for BYOD (a.k.a. employees bringing their own devices to work to use for work purposes). Placing restrictions on access to Company information, however, should not be limited only to those BYOD devices. Instead, if the Company issues Company-owned devices to employees for use on Company systems, similar ground rules should be put in place to set expectations and provide the backdrop for any disciplinary action that may be needed later if an employee misuses Company information or loses an unsecured device.

Here are some questions to keep in mind as you develop policies for Company-owned devices issued to employees: Continue reading

California Enacts Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA)

On October 8, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA) into law. This law basically prevents the government from accessing private electronic communications or electronic data without a warrant, subpoena or wiretap order, or without consent of the appropriate individual. State Senator Mark Leno explained the impetus for seeking to pass this legislation: “For what logical reason should a handwritten letter stored in a desk drawer enjoy more protection from warrantless government surveillance than an email sent to a colleague or a text message to a loved one?” Kim Zetter, “California Now Has the Nation’s Best Digital Privacy Law,” WIRED Magazine, Oct. 8, 2015.

As the Electronic Frontier Foundation summarized, “CalECPA protects Californians by requiring a warrant for digital records including emails and texts, as well as a user’s geographical location.” Dave Maass, “Victory in California! Gov. Brown signs CalECPA, Requiring Police to Get a Warrant Before Accessing Your Data,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, Oct. 8, 2015.

The law focuses on two kinds of data sets: “electronic communication information” and “electronic device information.” 2015 Cal. Stat. Ch.651. Continue reading

Why Privacy Policies Must be Personalized

The best argument for why companies should never simply copy and paste the text of another entities’ privacy policy onto their own website can be found in the recent announcement by the FTC of a settlement reached with Snapchat – relating to misrepresentations contained in the Privacy Policy, among other things. (Snapchat is not alleged to have used someone else’s Privacy Policy as its own; however, its mistakes in its public statements about its products illustrate fully that companies should say what they mean, and mean what they say in their privacy policies!) Continue reading

Data Breach Planning for Small Businesses

Many of the top stories last year related to data breach – from the Target breach during the Christmas Shopping Season (Dec. 2013: Prior Post, Small Business Magazine article; additional news coverage) to the UPS Store data breach during the summer (Aug. 21, 2014) to, more recently, the intentional hacking of Sony Pictures‘ servers (Nov. 24, 2014) and Staples’ data breach (Dec. 19, 2014).

It would be easy to believe that data security breaches happen only to large organizations, but such a belief would be mistaken. In the last year, a number of smaller companies have experienced breaches of the records they maintain. These can occur in at least two ways – 1) they may be the third-party vendor through whom hackers invade a larger company like Target or Home Depot; or 2) they use a third-party vendor who experiences a breach that impacts the smaller company’s customers. Continue reading