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What Business Must Learn from the eBay Breach

How can enterprises protect sensitive data?

Until this week the biggest anxiety when dealing with eBay has likely been fretting over a negative rating, concerns about slow shipping or a delayed refund. Then suddenly yesterday the media jumped all over the story that eBay had been hacked and users need to change their passwords. By the way, I can tell you from experience the password change process is not as easy or straightforward as you would expect.

EBay is now in damage control mode and trying to calm fears after revealing that hackers attacked its network three months ago. It is believed over 145 million user records were accessed, forcing eBay to issue a security warning. Three states are conducting a joint investigation which will focus on eBay's measures for securing personal data, the circumstances that led to the breach, how many users were affected, and the company's response to the breach, said a spokeswoman for Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen.[i] The breach could possibly be the second-biggest in US history, based on the number of records accessed by the hackers. Massive data breaches seem to be occurring much more frequently with Heartland Payments, Target, Neiman Marcus, Living Social, Zappos, AOL and now eBay all reporting damages in the news recently.

Why is this happening?
Enterprises that act as large repositories of data aggregated from consumers and businesses find themselves attractive targets for today's cybercriminals. Think about it, a successful hack provides a colossal "Return on Investment" for the cybercriminal. I believe we will continue to see aggressive attempts to break into shared consumer services like eBay as well as their "equivalents" in the business world - Enterprise Cloud Applications. Enterprises are increasingly turning to these cloud solutions to run operations such as Sales, Finance, Customer Support, etc. All of these groups within an organization maintain records with confidential files, proprietary data as well as Intellectual Property that is frequently the source of a business' competitive advantage.

How can enterprises protect sensitive data?
EBay says financial data was not affected; pointing out credit card information is encrypted and stored separately from the affected database. This is positive news, but what if they had taken the extra step of encrypting all data stored in their systems? If eBay had encrypted or tokenized all sensitive data, the hackers would have received meaningless information rather than private email addresses, birth dates, mailing addresses, etc. The same holds true for enterprise cloud systems. Sensitive/regulated data and IP should never be processed or stored in the clear when outside of an organization's control.

Executives and security professionals at enterprises need to consider broad based use of encryption and tokenization. And by the way, tokenization and encryption technologies can also protect information from unlawful surveillance and even safeguard against the loss of Intellectual Property due to cyber espionage (U.S. Charges Five Chinese Military Hackers for Cyber Espionage Against U.S. Corporations and a Labor Organization for Commercial Advantage.

Solutions such as Cloud Data Control Gateways can be deployed to protect all sensitive data. These Gateways allow enterprises to keep sensitive data behind their firewall, replacing it with tokens or encrypted values which then go to the cloud for processing and storage. Sensitive data never leaves the organization's control in any format, so information a cybercriminal obtains is either tokenized or encrypted so it is meaningless. Best of all, these gateways ensure that users of cloud applications are not impacted - they can still enjoy all the benefits of their critical cloud applications while the enterprise benefits from complete control of their data. Learn more at

[i] Reuters, "U.S. states probe eBay cyber-attack as customers complain."

Read the original blog entry...

Perspecsys Inc. is a leading provider of cloud data tokenization and cloud encryption solutions that enable mission-critical cloud applications to be adopted throughout the enterprise. Cloud security companies like Perspecsys remove the technical, legal and financial risks of placing sensitive company data in the cloud. Perspecsys accomplishes this for many large, heavily regulated companies across the world by never allowing sensitive data to leave a customer's network, while maintaining the functionality of cloud applications. For more information please visit or follow on Twitter @perspecsys.

More Stories By David Canellos

David Canellos is a security veteran who is now President and CEO of PerspecSys. An entrepreneur specializing in bringing innovative security and privacy solutions to market, he has been instrumental in establishing PerspecSys as the leader in the Cloud data Protection Gateway market.

Before joining PerspecSys, David held executive positions at Irdeto Worldwide, which acquired the company he led, Cloakware, which was a pioneer in encryption and digital rights management. Before joining Cloakware, he was the General Manager and Vice President of Sales for Cramer Systems (now Amdocs), a UK-based company, where he was responsible for the company’s revenue and operations in the Americas. Prior to his work with Cramer, David held a variety of executive, sales management and business development positions with the Oracle Corporation, Versatility and SAIC.

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