Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What will it take?

Ira Winkler, at Computerworld, asks what will it take for executives to pay attention to the privacy of personal information. He ends his opinion piece thusly:

Opinion: What will it take?

... Again, the problem isn’t that the laptops are getting stolen, but that the data is on the laptops to begin with. There is no legitimate work situation where tens of thousands, let alone millions, of personal records are required on an individual system. I can understand the need for backup tapes, but no individual should be entrusted with all this data.

At this point, given all of the attention to stolen laptops, every organization should IMMEDIATELY ban the bulk downloading of databases holding personally identifiable information. All copies of such data should immediately be deleted with a disk wiping program. Continued possession of such data should be cause for immediate dismissal.

But let's not stop with the users, since the problem certainly didn't start with them. After the dozens of incidents of the compromise of millions of records, any CIO or consulting or audit manager who doesn’t immediately ban the practice of downloading data and institute a program to minimize the exposure of personally identifiable information on portable media should be fired. Immediately. You can't guarantee that everyone will follow the policy, but if you don’t have a policy in the first place, only a very poor manager does not learn from the painful experience of others. There is no discussion about this.

So what more has to happen to get a CIO to realize this? Or will it take a few high-profile cannings to get my point across?

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