Retailer Nordstrom Inc. is the latest retailer to be affected by a data breach that exposed employee data.
The company informed employees of the data theft late last week, saying that the data included social security numbers, dates of birth, checking account and routing numbers, salaries and additional information. Although it didn’t provide a specific number, about 76,000 employee records are believed to have been exposed.
Nordstrom said the data breach, detected Oct. 9, was caused by a contract worker improperly handling the employee information. It said there’s no indication that the data has been shared or used inappropriately.
Tim Erlin, vice president of product management and strategy at Tripwire Inc., noted that despite headlines about customer data breaches, compromises of employee data are also significant, especially for large employers.
“Think about the personal data that your employer has about you,” he said. “There’s enough data in there to carry out a variety of criminal activities, including identity theft and insurance fraud. Risk assessments and threat modeling need to account for all the sensitive data within the organization, including employee data.”
Rich Campagna, chief marketing officer at Bitglass Inc., told SiliconANGLE that although careless and malicious insiders are a top concern for companies, they can be dealt with. “Organizations can protect their data from insider threats through a multipronged approach that leverages best practices in cybersecurity, privacy and information governance, as well as employee training,” he said.
The problem, said Mark Weiner, chief marketing officer at Balbix Inc., is that most enterprises don’t have adequate visibility into all vulnerabilities in their networks and infrastructure and therefore can’t take proper actions to prevent breaches and protect against them.
“Nordstrom’s breach indicates a lack of employee training for proper data handling and possibly a lack of proper privilege management and safeguards that can help ensure critical data remains secure,” Weiner said. “Incidents such as these cause employees to lose trust in their employer and can also signal to consumers that the company is not the best steward of sensitive information.”
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