How the government broke its own data breach record

Our weekly roundup of interesting stories online including a quantum computer on steroids, a new way of thinking about SIP trunking, and more


Blame it on the USB

It was probably a distinction that information security officers in government departments would rather not have received.

Canada’s privacy commissioner tabled before Parliament its 2014-2015 Annual Report on the Privacy Act, which revealed that federal institutions reported no less than 256 data breaches for the period, up from 228 the year before (which itself was double the figure reported  the prior year).

No high-profile attacks were blamed for the breaches; rather, it seems portable storage was a major factor.

An earlier audit, which looked at how 17 government institutions managed portable storage devices, found that more than two-thirds (70 per cent) of the institutions had not formally assessed the risks surrounding the use of all types of portable storage devices.

More than 90 per cent did not track all portable storage devices throughout their lifecycle, and more than 85 per cent did not retain records verifying the secure destruction of data retained on surplus or defective portable storage devices. And one-quarter did not enforce the use of encrypted USB storage devices.

Two-thirds did not have technical controls in place to prevent the connection of unauthorized portable storage devices (for example, privately owned device) on their networks, and more than half had not assessed the risk to personal information resulting from the absence of such controls.

Google and NASA’s PC on steroids

The latest iteration of a D-Wave 2X quantum computer being developed by Google and NASA has achieved a noteworthy performance boost when dealing with specialized workloads.

The new D-Wave offers up more than 1,000 qubits, which means it’s up to 100 times faster than a single-core conventional computer in solving problems involving 945 binary variables.

This computer on steroids, however, could be a solution waiting for a problem since D-Wave computers are not capable of universal computing. They are only useful for a small number of specific tasks, which Google and NASA are still trying to identify.

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Rethinking SIP trunking

Early adopters of SIP trunking were mostly concerned with cost savings and enhancing the flexibility of their communications infrastructure. But that frame of mind appears to be changing as SIP trunking adoption continues to grow.

Some 35 per cent of firms surveyed by research firm Forrester said they were either implementing or expanding SIP trunking — that’s a 10 per cent jump from numbers obtained for the previous year.

The adoption is fueled in part by organizations starting to realize SIP trunking may be the first step toward business transformation, according to Art Schoeller, principal analyst at Forrester.

Schoeller forecasts that organizations will soon view SIP trunking as  critical to providing disaster recovery, cloud call recording, unified communications and on-demand provisioning.

How banks can become truly ‘customer-centric’

Does the term “customer-centric” sound empty to you each time you deal with your bank?

You’re not alone. In fact, a new global survey indicates that nearly half of 185 banking professionals believe customer-centricity is an overused term.

The survey, conducted by software firm Misys and banking industry group Efma indicated that many bankers found the term tiresome because, despite years of usage, it has still not been translated to real customer service.

Misys recommends that banks look to digital disruptors like Google, Uber and Amazon. These organizations focus on convenient, connected customer service, according to journalist Christine Wong.

It’s a change that banks had better adopt soon. Recent research by Goldman Sachs shows that 33 per cent of millennials believe they won’t need a bank at all within five years.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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