It's no longer just a possibility. Visa and MasterCard are the latest victims of a security breach. Global Payments, an international credit card processor, on Sunday confirmed that hackers had stolen credit card numbers of as many as 1.5 million customers.
Whether the problem is careless or malicious insiders or criminal networks looking to monetize their exploits for financial and ideological gain, every organization must be diligent about protecting customer data, Lawrence Reusing, general manager for mobile security at Imation Corp., told us Monday morning.
"Today, companies are investing billions of dollars in the IT security industry's best-of-breed solutions," Reusing said. "Organizations need to layer their information network with technologies that protect the network itself from outside intrusion, the data and proprietary information that resides on it, and the easily lost or stolen mobile devices employees use to access the network and work out of the office."
Neil Roiter, research director at Corero Network Security, also shared some thoughts with us on the topic. As he sees it, this latest breach shows that three years after the Heartland Payment Systems breach of 130 million credit card numbers, credit card data is still vulnerable.
"The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is highly prescriptive in nature, but simply complying does not ensure credit card security," Roiter said. "Companies that rely on PCI DSS to solely dictate their security measures will continue to remain vulnerable to attack."
We also asked Mike Potts, CEO of Lancope, for his insights into the Visa and MasterCard breach. His conclusion: The perimeter-based approach is not sufficient and fails to protect critical data and internal resources that bypass these point solutions. What's more, he said, enterprises must find new ways to deal with online security issues that are made more complex by IT consumerization, mobility and movement to the cloud.
"Unfortunately, traditional tools such as firewalls, antivirus and [intrusion detection and prevention systems] are no longer enough to protect against rapidly evolving zero-day and insider attacks," Potts said. "Companies must instead seek out next-generation solutions such as flow-based monitoring to obtain the comprehensive network visibility they need to thwart today's more targeted and sophisticated threats."
Browsers to Blame?
Bill Morrow, CEO and executive chairman of Quarri Technologies, told us that the continued adoption of Web applications for secure electronic transactions introduces a weak link in the chain of security.
"Banks, government agencies, healthcare institutions and other organizations are increasingly using browsers as the primary platform for the delivery of information, making browsers the primary point of theft or data leakage," he said. "Standard Web browsers contain critical security gaps that create significant risks to organizations' confidential data."
Morrow argued any credit card processing conducted in the Web browser leaves data at risk, as it's unencrypted on the endpoint , and many organizations aren't up-to-date with antivirus software, leaving them vulnerable to malware and man-in-the-middle threats. That same data can also remain in the Web browser cache in clear text format and be vulnerable to extraction by malware.
"Even simple, everyday tasks such as cut, copy, paste and screen capture put sensitive data in the systemwide clipboard, which is also rendered in clear text format and easily accessible, even after the Web session has ended," Morrow said, noting that stored user names and passwords from browser sessions remain available in the authentication cache and vulnerable to malware.
"The good news is there are technologies that address these challenges," Morrow said. "Providing and enforcing usage of a secure, hardened browser session for your employees and customers is the best way to protect your data."