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Too Big to Protect

A curious editorial ran yesterday in the Bangor Daily News in which the author cited a spate of recent computer crashes affecting operations with major brands – including the Nasdaq stock exchange, Apple’s iCloud, Goldman Sachs, Amazon and YouTube – and layered those events with the Edward Snowden disclosures to draw the following conclusion: our digital communications networks are growing too large too fast to ever achieve true data security.

The systems on which organizations depend to operate and trade in today’s digital economy are showing cracks as they generate, process, and store more and more information. The companies mentioned were overwhelmed by this dynamic and shutdowns occurred. As a result, “every step onward increases the scale and complexity of the systems, until they are too big and complex for any one person to understand.”

Even the National Security Agency, the federal agency at the center of the domestic surveillance controversy, has signaled that it does not know how much information Mr. Snowden took with him when he fled overseas and blew the whistle on possible constitutional violations by the NSA.

More and more of our lives are being digitized and shared online. Whether those transactions are commercial as we buy goods, manage our financial affairs, conduct business with government, or merely share personal vignettes with our friends, family, or the world, we are trusting others with our digital identities as never before, and the pace does not appear to be slowing.

Much of that sharing may seem mundane, but if even a small amount of that sharing includes high value information, personal documents, or other confidential information, the implications can be serious if security is not considered.

As we have consistently reminded, the person most responsible for securing your valuable personal or business information is you. You must make sure you know and trust all recipients of an email, and you must make sure that you’ve taken necessary steps to effect document security.

If you aren’t already doing so, make document security a habit. One day, you’ll be glad you did.

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