Mission: Improbable

When Oliver Stone revealed that he was going to take on the challenge of turning the exploits of Edward Snowden into a film, I guess it wasn’t really any great surprise.

After all, he’s never been one to shy away from controversial subject matter and he described it as ‘one of the greatest stories of our time’.

My question is, ‘how will he tackle the technology issues?’

I still find it quite remarkable to think that Snowden managed to ‘acquire’ 1.7 million documents in the US alone without being detected. Surely, there would have been something in place to alert such suspicious activity, or perhaps he was smart enough to bypass the systems?

To translate the scenario into a business context – and particularly thinking about SMEs – it’s a bit like employing a temp during a busy period, giving them access to the company database in such a way that would allow them to extract data, and not locking down the USB ports on the machines they use.

(It’s certainly worth being ‘cautious’ about the information temps can access…as I’m sure Richard Scuadamore, CEO of the Premier League will testify!)

Thankfully, an increasing number of companies are implementing robust rights management and data loss prevention policies that should avoid people simply walking away with their crown jewels.

Ultimately, Snowden’s purpose was to expose the fact that government agencies are continuously capturing data, and that data could be about any of us.

Most of it I suspect wouldn’t be of much interest, and simply adds to the general background noise that gets in the way of pinpointing the information that they’re actually trying to uncover.

However, the fact that he’s exposed this practice may not actually prevent it from happening. In fact, if anything, it may actually drive them to find increasingly sophisticated ways to capture information, cover their tracks and maintain the highest levels of security to prevent further data breaches.

It’s remarkably similar to the world of cyber-crime. The increasing sophistication of this world continues to cause problems even for the biggest brands such as Sony and Ebay. Both have recently suffered data loss. Passwords in the case of Ebay. Credit card details in the case of Sony.

It all means that security experts have to continually innovate.

The combination of the above factors and the proliferation of devices makes it absolutely imperative to take a holistic view of IT security. In isolation, Anti Virus, malware or mail filtering will only ever offer limited protection.

Endpoint solutions deliver far more than Anti Virus by controlling policies for your staff, applying restrictions to web-browsing, managing encryption and password policies, locking down USB ports, and protecting devices from most potential vulnerabilities.

And UTM (Unified Threat Management) avoids the potential problems of bolting together solutions in a way that will create compatibility challenges and leave unwanted gaps.

Anything less could leave the backdoor wide open.