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The Ill Winds of Solar Winds

Look for a continuing fallout from the breach of Solar Winds, the giant technology management company that was responsible for the high-level federal government systems that were hacked last year. The hack is top of mind because some of our most sensitive systems were hacked, but businesses were affected, too. It’s time to look at the world of big data management.

The lesson we all need to learn from the hack of Solar Winds is that nothing is truly, truly safe. We don’t know where government agencies and private industry systems were breached – and how badly they were breached – and when it comes to the government systems, we’ll probably never know. But I don’t think we’re going out on a limb by saying that 1.) Solar Winds will need to work extra hard to regain the confidence of customers (and their customers, too) and that if 2.) they don’t succeed in repairing their systems and reputation, they’ll join a lot of other companies on technology’s garbage heap. From our various industry contacts, we had heard customers wanted to leave Solar Winds for reasons other than security.

The big data management companies should be subject to much more scrutiny by government oversight and by their customers. Strict government oversight similar to what we do to monitor CIA activity is necessary because of the extremely critical and sensitive nature of government work. Industry regulation is required to set standards for performance and accountability.

How much oversight and regulation are needed is a political question. What is not political is the need to keep our systems secure and, where possible, insist on transparency in letting us know when things go wrong. Dependency is critical because every system is so intertwined. It’s easy to see it if you look at it like a wheel. In the case of Soar Winds, look at them as the hub, and then look at every organization in their customer list as spokes connecting the hub to the rim. The rim is everyone who does business with any one of the spokes.

Solar Winds and its customers are not the first victims of sophisticated hacking, and unfortunately, they won’t be the last. Google has experienced problems, including an email issue last month, and Microsoft has had its share of issues. Look at what our nation went through with security for our elections.

As individuals we can demand that big data management companies take greater care, but we also need to own our security and asset protection. A lot of it is technology-based. We’ve implored everyone over the years to keep all operating systems, networks and application software up to date – to make sure you download and install updates, security patches and bug fixes. We’ve implored everyone to have all data securely backed up and to have a plan to get your assets – like money in your bank account – when you need them.

Beyond that, be critical of information requested when you fill out forms. Why does somebody need your social security number? Even for a job application, does your prospective employer need that information before they’re ready to do a background check or pay you? Don’t be afraid to question a request or demand a satisfactory answer. For companies where you have critical relationships, like your bank, maintain personal contacts. Know that you can pick up a phone and actually talk to a real human being when you’re concerned about your asset. We can help you with the technology part of security. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us for a security audit or to discuss applications and processes that can keep your computers as safe as possible when a big data manager is breached.

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