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Think Before You Send

Privacy advocates, some members of Congress, and even President Obama expressed concern last month when the House of Representatives passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The intent of CISPA was to make it easy for companies to share information related to cyberthreats in order to better understand and respond to those threats. But critics of the bill argued that CISPA, which the American Civil Liberties Union called “an extreme proposal,” did not provide for adequate protection against indiscriminate sharing of personal and sensitive information collected by companies.

Although the Senate effectively killed the measure for the current legislative year, the dialog sparked by CISPA brought a number of critical document safety issues to the fore. One of those issues is awareness over what happens to digital information once it is created and emailed. We don’t often think about the larger implications of sharing in the digital age, so when events like CISPA occur, we do well to use them as a reminder of the risks we incur through serial sharing.

For consumers, digital sharing often happens when we make purchases and surrender a credit card, write a check, or fill out forms both in-person and online. But when consumers become employees, the opportunities for sharing high value information increase. Think about the things that are emailed every day and the implications of those confidential documents falling into the wrong hands:
• Customer databases
• Price lists
• Internal memos
• Marketing plans
• Product roadmaps
• Employee lists
• Business proposals
• Financial disclosures
• Earnings reports
• Sales figures

For larger enterprises a leak or theft of this type of information may result in a major headache with the chief security officer, state attorney general, Securities and Exchange Commission, or other entities. For smaller companies, sole proprietors, or consultants, a breach of this sort can put the very existence of a business at risk due to loss of customer trust, exploitation by a competitor, or the legal costs resulting from potential legal action.

Think before you hit “send.” Double check the contents and the distribution of any email. And consider the advantages of safeguarding your confidential documents with a product like HoGo.

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