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Data Breach Risks for Private Investigators

Private Investigator Computer SecurityThe popular book that I missed (but recently bought) is “Black Swans” by Taleb.  It explains that the big wins and losses in history can’t be easily predicted yet they are the most significant events.

Computer security is one field where this stuff really fits.  Here are 2 examples.

YOU WIN BIG:  In the old days to a PI had to rent an office, hire a secretary and someone to run to the courthouse… now you skip the administrivia and let a PC do the clerical work.  Life is good; you get to do investigations and skip the other stuff.  This convenience was not redicted when you were born.

YOU LOSE IT ALL: For the last 10 years you have been doing successful investigations.  Every week you open a new case, and enter detailed data on a new client and 10 suspects into your database.  Yesterday your database was hacked.  Today RCW 19.255.010 kicks in.  You are REQUIRED to notify all 5720 people (including the suspects) of the data breach.  On the average, figure it will cost about $100 each when you pay for their credit monitoring, etc.

The bottom line is that the potential $57K loss could be completely avoided by taking a few minutes to set up encryption (read the first sentence of the RCW again) to protect the client information.  There are lots of alternatives – password safe, PGP, bitlocker, EFS, password safe, TrueCrypt – that apply to hard drives, email, USB sticks or the cloud.  I choose encryption.

Gordon Mitchell


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