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The Informatica blog - Authored by Claudiu Popa

Businesses Have 5 Opportunities to Benefit from Better Security

CRA and 9 other agencies fail to adequately report privacy and security breaches.In a recent press release we echoed the Privacy Commissioner's concerns over growing numbers of data breaches occurring in 10 government agencies. Over 3000 inadequately reported data breaches took place at the Canadian Revenue Agency, Fisheries and Oceans, Public Safety, Employment and Social Development Canada, Justice Canada, Citizenship and Immigration, Passport Canada, the Correctional Service, the RCMP, the Parole Board and Veterans Affairs.

Despite a reported 97% of Canadians demanding to know when their privacy has been breached, not enough is being done to improve mandatory reporting, but we think believe the private sector has a chance to lead the way and gain public trust and positive exposure in the process. Here are 5 best practices that can be adopted equally effectively by public agencies and private organizations:

1. Notify.
 
The government must push for standardized breach reporting at all levels but savvy businesses can also lead the way with adequate reporting of any suspected privacy/security issues to Privacy Commissioners. Following process demonstrates professional integrity and creates a chain of custody for any relevant tracking information early on.

2. Verify.
 
Both government and the private sector need to standardize risk assessments and have their practices and results independently verified. It's a simple, recurring process that leads to incremental improvements in security.

3. Communicate.
 
Security by obscurity doesn't work. Secrecy erodes trust. Share standards and practices to educate the public about what your government agency or business is doing. Review your policies and write them in simple, clear language. Your audience will pay you back in trust.

4. Enforce.
 
Policies should not be wishful thinking. They must describe existing practices and incorporate privacy principles that put the public's interest first. Employees must be intimately aware of them. The public must have access to all relevant information on current practices. Encourage reporting of any suspected issues, gaps or deficiencies. It's free and it demonstrates awareness, accountability and risk maturity.

5. Educate.
 
If encryption standards are weaker as a result of pervasive surveillance, the government should not remain quiet on the topic. It should immediately let Canadians know how to restore the confidentiality of their information. Similarly, businesses need to be savvy about all legislative changes and educate their workforce on the best ways to protect information, whether it is legally mandated or not. Bring people into the loop.

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