Fast and Furious Surveillance: Keeping your Data Away from Watching Eyes

Last updated: 16 May 2016

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“Every cell phone tower you pass, friend you keep, article you write, site you visit, subject line you type, and packet you route, is in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited but whose safeguards are not.”

So if you don’t recognize this quote already, the author is Edward Snowden. We’re not talking science fiction like the “God’s Eye’ technology in Fast and Furious 7 movie here; the capabilities to observe, track and even change data are here today. And the capacity to do so is growing at a truly fast and furious pace. You simply don’t know if, or maybe it’s more likely when, you are under surveillance.

Surveillance is a heavily loaded word, and there is a lot of debate about security vs. surveillance, who should have access and who shouldn’t, but does, etc.  Ultimately this is about our inability to create a technology or capability that distinguishes the good guys from the bad guys, and our definition of who those guys are.

Let’s narrow the focus and look at what this means for you and me. Let’s start with some basics.

  1. Is your data secure and what does that actually mean?
  2. Who can access that data, and who are we trying to keep out?
  3. What happens when that data is moving across the network?
  4. And would you even know if you had been breached? The sad truth is probably not, as very few countries and/or states or even industries require notification.

So what can we do to prevent our sensitive information from being exposed to covert and overt watching eyes? A good start is to consider whether your information — and that could be data, voice, video or even metadata — is encrypted.  Without the correct controls, your business and your personal data are vulnerable.

Approved users and processes need to be able to leverage the data that’s available, wherever it resides, while keeping the bad guys out. Make sure you lock down any high-value, sensitive information, such as intellectual property, personally identifiable information, and company financials. And then you’re taking the first steps to keeping your information away from watching eyes.

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