26 January 2009

PII: Achieving a Defensible Standard of Care...

A data security breach of "Personal Identifiable Information" (PII) will impact your organization in the future. This incident is no different than other Operational Risk loss events to your global enterprise this year, such as occupational fraud or the settlement of a lawsuit. Correct?

This time however, the difference is that now your own employees or your customers are the victim. Their PII has been lost or stolen and your organization has been the safeguarding entity of that valuable data until now. Your response is vital and the way you legally and ethically behave is a significant risk factor in itself.

Your brand reputation in the marketplace is on the line and the potential churn in lost customers or employees is at stake. Like many post 9/11 companies, your crisis response protocol is already in place for incidents that require your senior executives and the establishment of an immediate Incident Response Team (IRT).

So why is lost or stolen PII such an important executive issue for any organization?

In privacy, PII is less restrictive than in Information security and one definition can be found in the EU directive 95/46/EC:[1]

Article 2a: 'personal data' shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person ('data subject'); an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity;

Although the concept of PII is ancient, it has become much more important as information technology and the Internet have made it easier to collect PII, leading to a profitable market in collecting and reselling PII. PII can also be exploited by criminals to stalk or steal the identity of a person, or to plan a person's murder or robbery, among other crimes. As a response to these threats, many web site privacy policies specifically address the collection of PII, and lawmakers have enacted a series of legislation to limit the distribution and accessibility of PII.

As your General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer begin to assess the magnitude and breadth of your recent PII exposure, so too does the plaintiff lawyers. Now the clock starts ticking and each tick gets louder and louder, as different litigation strategies are discussed. In Board Rooms and judges court chambers across the United States, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) and the admissibility of "Electronically Stored Information" (ESI) is being discussed as a legitimate component of evidence and it's relevance in the case.

What if you could now "Rewind" this scenario and find yourself in a "legal safe zone" to adequately prepare, prevent and even preempt a "Data Security Breach" in your organization. This "legal safe zone" is available today and is as close as your corporate executive conference room, with several "Subject Matter Experts" working side-by-side. It's a professional service solution from the data breach services leader, idexperts.

The "Achieving a Defensible Standard of Care" Readiness workshop in your organization begins with a two day facilitated process for discovery and convergence with your fellow company executives. You will be engaged in a proactive, preventive and preemptive tactical plan in preparation for the day of your next PII-involved Data Security Breach. Upon completion, this operational plan establishes the baseline framework for a complete team-based drill. This outcome will then test the readiness of your key stakeholders internally and external to the company. More importantly, it provides the strategic insight on what vulnerabilities still exist in your particular organizations approach to remediation and legal compliance.

Each year, despite security efforts, millions of personal records are compromised as a result of corporate and public-sector data breaches. Breach response costs - mandated notification, PR, call handling, credit monitoring and legal fees - can add up, yet traditional approaches don't fully mitigate the risk to your business or your customers.

A data security breach of "Personal Identifiable Information" (PII) will impact your organization in the future. The next one will be different.

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