“A Data Breach Made Us Stronger” – err…really?!

It would appear so. RSA (security devision of EMC) revealed at the RSA Conference Europe 2011 that they have become more focused and experienced since they suffered an attack to their IT systems in March 2011. 

Attackers stole information from the company’s IT systems earlier this year. The two hacking groups were “acting on behalf of a nation state targeted at defence industry-related information.” The attack was “specialised and sophisticated” and mimicked RSA naming conventions to avoid detection.

Surprisingly, only one attack on an RSA customer was ever reported, showing that the counter-actions RSA took were extremely effective.

Tom Heiser, president of RSA, claims that this experience has made his company stronger, and more experienced. The knowledge they have gained since being a victim of an attack has opened their eyes to the extent of cybercrime.

“The breach highlighted the fact that contemporary attacks are gaining the upper hand, attackers are developing new techniques very quickly, attacks are more likely to be “low and slow”, and that people are making it easier for attackers by providing so much personal data online.”

But would a data breach make every company stronger?


RSA were able to survive this attack with minimum consequences  due to three simple facts:

  1. They were prepared – From being in the security industry they knew the risks of suffering an attack or data and so were able to adapt better to the attack.
  2. They acted quickly – RSA were quick to spot that the attack was in progress and so locked down its infrastructure almost immediately, by using software from NetWitness.
  3. They communicated with customers – RSA kept in touch with them and let them know what was going on

Normally when I write about data breaches, I refer to the consequences as brand damage, ruined reputations, customer loss and hefty fines. But here I am talking about how it has made a company stronger. Follow RSA’s steps and you’ll be on the latter end of this  spectrum.

Have you got all the above points covered? If not, read IT Governance: A Manager’s Guide to Data Security and ISO 27001 / ISO 27002, Fourth Edition. This manual covers everything you need to know about information security and data protection, and is also the Open University post-graduate text book for information security.

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You may also be interested in our Digital Forensics Training Course as it will help you develop an effective forensic readiness plan for your organisation. And why is forensic readiness so important? Well, it is the “ability to collect, preserve, protect and analyse digital evidence that can be effectively used in any legal matters, in security investigations, in disciplinary matters, in an employment tribunal or in a court of law” and is now a mandatory requirement of all UK government departments.

Read more about this course here >>