18 November 2008

Virtual Truth: False Information Risk...

How does "False Information" impact the risk to your organization? Decisions based upon faulty or inaccurate information is the root of many of the systemic failures of catastrophic history. The Titanic, Challenger Shuttle and Three Mile Island nuclear incident can all be attributed to the integrity of vital information.

Fast forward to the financial crisis and the past decade of consumer credit expansion strategies. What data have you been collecting from US consumers or clients about their personal identifiable information attributes? The Information Age has drawn us into a more dangerous business operating environment as these digital assets have become another commodity to be sold in an international market place, to the highest bidder. Are you ready when the federal "Suits" or the local LEO's (Law Enforcement Officer) knock on your door in pursuit of the truth:

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) spells out rights for victims of identity theft, as well as responsibilities for businesses. Identity theft victims are entitled to ask businesses for a copy of transaction records — such as applications for credit — relating to the theft of their identity. Indeed, victims can authorize law enforcement officers to get the records or ask that the business send a copy of the records directly to a law enforcement officer. The businesses covered by the law must provide copies of these records, free of charge, within 30 days of receiving the request for them in writing. This means that the law enforcement officials who ask for these records in writing may get them from your business without a subpoena, as long as they have the victim’s authorization.

The financial integrity of your future as a business and as a consumer is at stake. Christopher Burns brings this to light in a dramatic fashion in his new book; Deadly Decisions:

"First, it is often extremely difficult to validate, corroborate, or verify the information we are dealing with, except by comparing it to the other information we are dealing with. And often the whole system is contaminated by misunderstanding, bad data and false assumptions that are hard to spot. The truth test rarely works. And second, the real issue of truth is not whether you or I should believe this or that, it is what we believe together. The truth that matters is group truth, and where we get into trouble is when a whole organization--a company, a community, a nation--starts to act on information that has been gathered from many sources and processed by many people but has come to contain significant elements that are false."

Beyond "Red Flags" imposed on business, the LEO community is starting to acquire what it needs for more effective deterence and enforcement mechanisms. The ID Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2008 is providing prosecuters with the tools to address cyber extortion schemes such as the Express Scripts Case:

Corporate custodians of confidential medical data should be closely monitoring events connected to a nightmarish computer security breach in the St. Louis region.

Express Scripts is one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits managers. The company, with headquarters in St. Louis County, handles approximately 500 million prescriptions per year for 50 million workers at 1,600 American companies. Early in October, it received an extortion letter, the details of which it released on Nov. 6.

The letter included personal information on about 75 Express Scripts clients — Social Security numbers, dates of birth and, in some cases, information about prescription medications. Whoever sent the letter demanded money from the company — the amount has not been disclosed — and threatened to use the Internet to reveal personal and medical information about millions of people if the demands were not met.

Now the clients themselves are receiving extortion demands directly from the criminal elements behind this latest critical incident. Express Scripts has hired a new Senior Compliance Counsel to start December 1 and one of the Board of Directors has tapped a unit of his former company to provide ID Theft professional services. It looks like they are heading in the right direction.

Trusted Information is at the core of current global trading, business transactions and the fabric of our own personal identities. False information and knowledge is what creates operational risk factors that can change a whole company or the integrity of a whole nation. Systems that comprise vast databases of "so called" trusted information are at our fingertips being utilized to make coherent and effective decisions. Yet what may be the more catostrophic Operational Risk beyond the simple stealing of information is the potential opportunity for the destruction of vital information.

The vulnerability of our institutions and the critical infrastructure of the United States economy is ever more at risk of a systemic loss. While our stolen data will continue to be sold to the highest bidder on a global platform for trading, the 4GW "Non-State" actors will change their modus operandi. This is a given.

Trusted Information systems that have certified integrity and the oversight controls to ensure the highest level of virtual truth is the "Holy Grail." The degree to which these same systems include false knowledge is our most complex problem for business and government in the next decade.

No comments:

Post a Comment