Insidious Insiders: Bank of America

When I talk or write about inappropriate confidential information disclosure, I often point out that data loss prevention (DLP) systems most commonly help reduce the everyday mistakes by well-intentioned employees just trying to do their jobs. A DLP system also helps discover a malicious insider gathering or passing confidential information to outsiders. Regardless of intent, a good DLP system can help administrators notice a trend of confidential leaks and help build a case file for action with regard to a problematic insider.

A story I saw today about a problem at Bank of America that has been under investigation for a while where an apparently-malicious employee, who had access to “personally identifiable information such as names, addresses, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, bank account numbers, driver’s license numbers, birth dates, e-mail addresses, family names, PINs and account balances,” allegedly passed this information to criminals. The estimated resulting direct financial loss is $10 million.  Indirect losses, including employee time spent investigating the problem, cost of credit report monitoring for affected customers, revisiting policies and controls, and diminished brand may be significant as well.

A DLP system is one of the best practices that a business can put into place to help track and prevent data breach events. If you have a DLP system in place, make sure it is correctly configured, installed in the correct locations in your network, servers, and clients, and make sure it is monitored. (It is highly likely that Bank of America has a DLP system in place, but I do not have any knowledge in regards to whether information from a DLP system helped with the investigation of this case.)

Other best practices for protection of information include:

  • Limiting the amount and scope of information available to employees to that necessary to do their jobs. Often, employees are given increasing access to information over their tenure, and it’s a good idea to review access to make sure potential for problems is limited.
  • Logging information access and reviewing the logs for unusual patterns. A Security Event Manager (SEM, also known as SIEM) can help with this by making it possible to centrally manage and review information from servers.
  • Limit network access for workstations and servers. Servers should generally not be using protocols like Internet Relay Chat or accessing random web sites. A network protocol manager or firewall can be configured to prevent unexpected network use. Unexpected use of web sites or network protocols from servers might be indicative of an intrusion that should be investigated.

With good practices and vigilance, you can reduce the risk posed by malicious intent.

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from Info Loss authored by Guy Helmer. Read the original post at: