3 Marketing Security Risks. How to combat the threats to the security of your Marketing Database

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1 3 Marketing Security Risks How to combat the threats to the security of your Marketing Database Marketing Guide June 2013

2 Security Threats PROTECTING YOUR DATABASE FROM HACKERS & OTHER SECURITY THREATS Over the last few years it seems that on any week there is a data breach at a large organisation. It started with customer data being left on trains or in a pub by government workers. More recently some Service Providers have been breached, allowing the hackers access to all of their customers data lists. We cannot leave out the impact of the Sony Playstation Network, which led to several weeks worth of downtime while the breach was resolved. This has left consumers fed up with the constant stream of apology s arriving in their inbox, telling them to look out for scams and spam. While damage can be difficult to put into monetary terms, The Ponemon Institute have estimated the average breach cost for UK organisations stands at $98 per record. Data security, once the domain of IT departments, has risen to the top of the priority list for marketers. This paper provides a breakdown of the types of breaches likely to impact on an marketer, and steps to prevent these. THE THREATS This paper does not aim to cover every single threat in detail, but set out the main types of threat, and the best ways to cover yourself against them. For more detailed and technical guidelines please see our Additional Resources section. 2

3 1 Hackers A hacker accessing an organisations data is often the most high profile type of data breach. The millions of addresses on a brand s list are extremely valuable to hackers. Here are the main ways hackers have gained access to organisation s data: YOUR OWN NETWORK Malware and viruses can infiltrate your PC or network and look for data; they can even send s behind the scenes, from your machine. Indeed this is where most spam originates, from hijacked computers. This sort of threat usually arrives through attachments on s, or through visiting and downloading material containing viruses on the Internet. The biggest danger can be when this infiltrates onto the network and starts contaminating all PCs on that network so even if you think you are too careful to get a virus, you cannot make any guarantees for your colleagues. These viruses and malicious codes can be used to look for certain types of files, steal passwords, or hijack your PC so it can be controlled remotely and therefore bypass much of your existing security. HACKED AT YOUR ESP OR HOSTED DATABASE PROVIDER Possibly the biggest risk to an organisation is security that it cannot control. When using third parties such as ESPs, cloud based CRM or marketing database providers, they all have access to your data through their logins. You can put all the security you like in your own organisation, but if your third party has a breach, your efforts count for nothing. Read our ESP Data Breaches explained section (page 4) for more on how this threat can occur. SYSTEM VULNERABILITIES As well as gaining front end access to your systems and databases, hackers also try to infiltrate any vulnerabilities in back end database access. One of these methods is to try and post code into your web forms which will then return data or allow further access. This is known as SQL Injection. While it is not this paper s aim to explain the full technical explanation for these and other types of system vulnerabilities, it is important marketers are aware of them in order to question potential suppliers and their IT department about any penetration testing that has been carried out, to ensure security is proven to be strong. 3

4 THE ESP DATA BREACHES EXPLAINED ESPs hold millions of addresses for their clients making them a high profile target. There have been several instances of breaches at ESPs in the past, but until 2011 these had been restricted to entry level marketing companies. In 2011 Epsilon and Silverpop, ESPs who operate at the enterprise level in the market, fell victim to sophisticated attacks. Usernames and passwords of those with administration access into their platform were compromised and therefore hackers were able to gain access to data on all customers. A database of executives addresses from ESPs was infiltrated by hackers, and personalised s were sent to them. If any of the ESPs team members opened the attachment from this , it would disable their anti virus and install malicious code on that employee s machine and, in turn, the network. This code not only enabled hackers to steal passwords, but also enabled them to remotely control their PCs. This meant even if the login was restricted to their network, the hacker could still login using their PC and download addresses. It was not just ESPs that were victims. Users of their systems had also fallen victim to the original attack. Although less is known about this, there is significant evidence that data hacked from one ESP system was uploaded into another, where spam was then sent containing links to malicious sites which would infect the recipient s machine. The hacks were identified when those with a unique address for receiving an organisation s s, started receiving spam into that account. Epsilon also had monitoring tools to identify unusual patterns of downloading of data this helped minimise the impact of the attack. Both the Silverpop and Epsilon breaches made headline news in the mass media, as news organisations learned of the hack through client warnings and apology s following the discovery of the breach. Simultaneously, comments from concerned consumers swept the social networks. 4

5 1 Hackers PREVENTATIVE ACTION We have talked about the types of threats from hackers and now we need to understand how to avoid them. We have broken this into three key areas which should apply equally to third parties such as ESPs as well as your own organisation. PREVENTING PASSWORDS FROM BEING STOLEN Clearly the first step in preventing easy access for hackers is to stop them from getting hold of your password. 1. Ensure you have a good, up to date, anti virus package if you do get targeted by hackers in the same way as the ESP Data Breach, then you are likely to receive with viruses attached. Also, it is known at least one of the ESPs had the virus infiltrate their network the person whose login was stolen had their password stolen from this, not from receiving the initial with the virus. Therefore the approach to data security should be company wide, not just a marketing initiative. 2. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Solutions are specialist offerings designed to stop the leakage of data and key information such as passwords from your network. If you are serious about data security then a DLP solution is a must. 3. Password management make it secure, impossible to guess and rotate them regularly. 4. Use a secure connection to third party systems. Most ESPs connections are secure as standard, but also consider how you might transfer data. Do you use FTP? Then make sure you use Secure FTP. Do you data? We recommend you do not, but if you have no choice then at the very least put it in a password protected ZIP file, and telephone the password through; do not include it in the ! 5. Reducing the number of people with access to your data is the best way of minimising passwords getting lost. Does everyone need full access rights into your ESP? Can they get data access turned off? Does someone need access to all of your lists held in your ESP or just a small number? Some quick 5 minute changes to access rights can make a dramatic impact on your data security. RESTRICTING ACCESS EVEN IF PASSWORDS ARE LOST TO HACKER Even if the worst happens and a hacker gets hold of a password, there is still plenty of options open to you, to prevent any damage being done. IP lockdown only allow access from the IP address of your office, to make it harder for a hacker to get access. However this alone was not sufficient in the ESP Data Breach, as hackers took control of PCs belonging to ESP employees. 5

6 1 Hackers Add an unbreakable third level of authentication. At center, our staff all have a special USB key they plugin to their PCs when logging into our systems with their usual username and password, they are also required to press a button on the key. This sends a unique encrypted code to the system to complete the login. As a onetime password, this code cannot be used twice, ensuring no one can get access unless they are physically in front of the PC, pressing the button. User access rights we have talked about the importance of rationalising who has access to your data, but we need to emphasise it again here. If hacker obtains a password, but does not have the access rights to export data, then the damage is limited. TESTING AGAINST SYSTEM VULNERABILITIES Systems that handle data are designed to deal with intrusion attempts and as a result system vulnerability is rarely the cause of a data breach. It is however important not to become complacent in this regard. Supplier audits have your IT team question existing and potential suppliers about who will be hosting or handling customer data. Do they have recent third party penetration tests? Call in the experts there is no point in doing your own penetration testing as your team will be too close, fresh eyes are needed. Numerous third parties are available to run these and provide a detailed report at reasonable rates. 6

7 THE CENTER APPROACH TO DATA SECURITY Jason McSweeney Technical Director center UK Ltd At center we have always had data security at the top of our requirements. If our clients are hosting their valuable customer databases with us, then they expect this security to be of the highest standard. Our core security features include everything you would expect secure & encrypted connections, requirements for user passwords to be a certain strength, and of course data centres with the very best physical and network security. Max also offers some more advanced security features that go beyond the standard offered by a lot of cloud based marketing service providers. These include the ability to restrict any login to only be accessed via your own network simply enter the IPs you want to allow access from for each user. Remote workers can still utilise a secure VPN connection to access Max . But we feel even that does not go far enough. So for organisations who want extra piece of mind, we provide a special USB security key with a button on it, which users are prompted to press when logging in. This sends a unique, secure code and completes the login. A new code is generated each time the button is pressed. Therefore not only do you have to access through your own network, you also have to physically be at the PC, thus preventing someone from tens of thousands of miles away remotely controlling the PC. Even when you login to Max you may find you have been restricted to only what you need to access. You can restrict access to different workspaces, any folder whether it contains s, lists, reports or absolutely anything in your spaces. Each user can also be configured to allow access or otherwise to different aspects of Max including approval, data import, reporting, data exporting and more. And while we think we have everything covered, we don t rest on our laurels by the time you read this I am sure we will have added more enhancements to stay ahead of the game. 7

8 2 Employees THREAT 2: EMPLOYEES Once you have solved technical threats into your data, you need to turn to the human element. If one of your employees decides to take valuable data with them when they take a job with your biggest competitor, there might be nothing to stop them from getting it. However there is a deterrent in knowing that data access is logged to the exact user and the employee is directly accountable. The other area is employees which do not treat data security seriously those who leave a laptop with lots of sensitive files on the train or those who their passwords to their home computer which their child managed to get a malicious virus on. PREVENTATIVE ACTION Most of these proposed actions have already been discussed, but as we are talking about a human element, then there is a different reason for these. 1. Ensure only those that need particular access rights have that access. The less employees that have access, the harder it is for an unscrupulous employee to do damage. 2. DLP solutions not only help protect from hackers, but they also help protect you from mislaying data or letting employees transfer key data outside of the organisation. Many offerings are available on the market, from encrypting removable media in case it gets left on the train, through to sophisticated logging and protection of key files in case they are transferred. 3. Integrate with third parties reducing manual data transfer reduces the amount of people that need access to the data, reduces transit across unsecure channels such as , and as a bonus improves efficiency. 4. Physical security while not directly linked to employees, it is important to note here that one easy method of losing data is having hardware stolen, on site or while travelling. 8

9 3 Not yet known THREAT 3: WE DO NOT KNOW UNTIL IT HAPPENS Everything happens for the first time at some point and this goes for the ESP Data Breach episode. While there had been prior breaches, these had been limited to the value end of the ESP market place. The idea that hackers could possibly get into enterprise ESPs with ISO data security certifications was unthinkable. There will be new threats to data security in the future which we do not yet know about. That makes it difficult to plan solutions, but there are ways you can stack things in your favour. PREVENTATIVE ACTION Develop a culture of data security train people to think about potential impact of everything they do with data. Doing this enables staff to spot threats and deal with them before they arise, and not have a culture of it will never happen to us. Review data security on a regular basis, always looking to test for potential holes, no matter how bizarre they might seem. Choose your partners carefully you are only as strong as your weakest point. If your partners who hold your data do not have a strong data security ethos, then it is time to find one that does. 9

10 Further Resources This paper has been designed as an overview for marketers, but now you have read this you might want to delve deeper into this area. Here are our recommended further reading areas: Information Commissioner and The Data Protection Act: Read about your obligations under principle 7 of the Data Protection Act: Ponemon Institute: Want to know how much a Data Breach could cost you: of a data breach climbs higher Symantec: Anatomy of a Data Breach Why Breaches Happen and What to Do About It: 1.en us.pdf Security Week: Our favourite portal on everything to do with Information & Data Security: ABOUT CENTER center is a UK based provider of CRM focused marketing solutions. Founded in 1999, center continues to lead the industry in offering advanced marketing solutions such as, behavioural , data integration, event triggered s, content generation and dynamic content. Clients choose center because of our consistent track record in achieving best in class results and the support provided by our team of personal account managers. center have helped companies such as Toptable.com, Responsibletravel.com, Go Compare, talksport, Hoseasons Group, NS&I and Visit Britain achieve award winning marketing programmes. 10

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