It's serious news that RSA's SecurID solution has been the target of an advanced persistent threat. But "It's not a game-changer," says Stephen Northcutt, CEO of SANS Institute. "Anybody who says it is [a game-changer] is an alarmist."
The federal government's official tally of major health information breaches now confirms the recent Health Net incident affected 1.9 million individuals, making it the largest breach on the list. Meanwhile, at least four state agencies are now investigating the incident.
When it comes to e-marketing and the reliance on third parties such as Epsilon, Nicolas Christin of Carnegie Mellon University says banks and merchants should "come clean" about the information they share with outside entities.
Communicating with customers about the incident and warning them not to click links in phishing e-mails are all these impacted institutions and companies really can do, says Jeremiah Grossman, chief technology officer of WhiteHat Security.
Privacy Attorney Lisa Sotto says the Epsilon e-mail breach is a warning about the state of data security employed by some third-party service providers. Strong contracts related to security practices must be the norm, not the exception.
"Persistent" is the operative word about the advanced persistent threat that has struck RSA and its SecurID products. "If the bad guys out there want to get to someone ... they can," says David Navetta of the Information Law Group.
"It is the biggest breach we have ever seen; and to say no financial information has been stolen is, well, understating the massive breach and concern," says Neil Schwartzman, founder and chief security specialist at CASL Consulting.
After the revelation of Operation Aurora, the term began to take on a different meaning. "In essence," IBM's X-Force report says, "APT became associated with any targeted, sophisticated or complex attack regardless of the attacker, motive, origin or method of operation."
Three recent breach incidents, each involving the loss or theft of back-up drives, illustrate that some organizations are doing a better job than others in informing consumers about the steps they're taking to prevent more breaches.
Although many organizations are using encryption to protect data on mobile devices, they're often overlooking other important ways to prevent health information breaches, says Terrell Herzig, information security officer at UAB Medicine.
An Illinois childcare agency has articulated a revised security policy, including the use of encryption, in announcing a breach involving the apparent theft of three back-up unencrypted portable hard drives.
Users of RSA's SecurID two-factor authentication products, acting on advice from the company, are devising strategies to monitor for threats and take preventive steps in the aftermath of a hacker attack against the products.