By Eric Rickard, CEO, Sertainty Federal Systems

What do the Coronavirus pandemic, 9/11 terrorist attacks, Boeing 737 MAX crashes, and the OPM data breach have in common?

First, their root causes were known and preventable. Second, they resulted in a substantial human loss of life and privacy.

In most cases, Presidential panels were convened to affirm the root cause of their failures. Similarly, Congressional hearings have or will be held to investigate why these disasters in-waiting were known but not prevented.

Yet, the only catastrophe that has not been fully mitigated is the data breaches. The effects of Federal data breaches continue unabated.

  • 2015 – OPM data breach exposed PII of nearly 26M people, including biometrics and financial data.
  • 2018 – US Postal Service lost 60M customer records (1/5th of the US population)!
  • 2 Feb 2020 – FBI arrests Raytheon Missile Systems engineer for giving laptop with sensitive missile defense technology to China.
  • 10 Feb 2020 – US DOJ just charged four Chinese military officers over the $800M Equifax hack
  • Perpetual – The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health have had data breaches more frequently than other agencies in the Federal government.

The root cause consensus for the data breaches was network penetration and data exfiltration. Incredibly, the experts missed the obvious. The actual root cause was the failure to employ self-protecting data technology to render stolen data unusable and inaccessible.

Most experts agree that network cybersecurity protection does not guarantee data loss prevention and data loss prevention does not prevent data misuse.

Over the past 4 years, DHS has spent nearly $2B to protect Federal networks but recklessly persists in failing to protect exfiltrated or lost data. Sadly, they are not alone. The DoD and industry are negligent as well.

This National data loss epidemic, like the Coronavirus, is completely preventable if Congress and the Department Secretaries act now.

Barriers to Entry 

Less than 15 years ago cloud computing was universally rejected as an immature and novel computing environment that was too insecure for the Federal government.  Today, it is the preferred computing security solution, even for our nation’s most highly classified data.  Similarly, the idea of self-protecting data technology is treated like an unproven novelty that is too good to be true. After 10 years self-protecting data technology should be the nation’s preferred data security solution.

The projected impacts of implementing a self-protecting data solution in the Federal, DoD, and industry are staggering.

Financial Benefits

  • $1T Industrial loss prevention over 10 years by permanently protecting industrial intellectual property from digital espionage by foreign adversaries.
  • $.5T DoD R&D loss prevention over 10 years from digital espionage.
  • $7B per year in DoD cost reduction by protecting DoD data at the time of origination

Privacy, Regulatory Compliance and Audit Benefits

  • Empowers consumers and businesses to control their most private data (HIPPA, GDPR, FERPA, GLBA, ITAR, EAR, FIRRMA)
    • 25M Military, Civilian and Industry private records protected
    • 60M US Postal Service customer records protected
    • 15M VA health records protected
  • Assured universal financial regulatory compliance with automated audit enforcement.
  • Exposes personnel and actors who leak, steal, and proliferate stolen data.

National Defense Benefits

  • Neutralizing China and Russia digital espionage – Protection of Federal and industry intellectual property at the time of data origination defeats Nation-state adversaries forever.
  • Defeat Insider Threat and Mistakes – accidental or deliberate data loss no longer poses threats to national security
  • Sustainable 1,000+% increase in DoD weapon systems resiliency
  • 3+K US Military Service Members lives saved

Universal Business Benefits

  • The data snitches on personnel and actors who leak, steal, and proliferate stolen data.
  • Small Business Growth – Eliminates $100K per year of recurring regulatory compliance barriers to entry for small DoD businesses
  • Reduces businesses Data Loss insurance premiums and subsequent business risks

1000:1 Return on Investment

The estimated 10-year cost of deployment, refinement, testing and sustainment of a joint Federal and Industrial self-protecting data solution is less than $500M per year – less than 1/1,000th the value of the property and lives saved.

Key Takeaways:

All Data is Sensitive

In December 2019 the New York Times used cell phone data to track President Donald Trump in Florida when he was with Japan’s Prime minister Abe. All members of the President’s Secret Service protection and advance team are known. No data is unimportant and all data needs permanent protection by its owner.

Information is Power

Data used to be just numbers and letters. Today, with advanced analytics data describes who we are as a person and a nation. It reveals our character, our loyalties, our secrets, and our intentions. In the wrong hands, our data becomes a weapon against us.

Cyber Criminals Beware

A self-protecting data solution does more than prevent information theft, it steals the advantage from the thief. By denying adversaries the ability to access sensitive data lives are saved, privacy is preserved and National prosperity through fair competition of commerce and ideas.

About the Author

Eric Rickard CEO, Sertainty Federal Systems

-A veteran Defense and Federal Systems executive, with two US Government appointments at the National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.