Data security measures failing to match legal expectations

Tuesday, 29 April 2003, 12:34 PM EST

Emerging legal expectations for data security and privacy are making it increasingly important for companies to demonstrate reasonable care in protecting their IT assets, say security and legal experts.

Regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (see story below), as well as several proposed state and federal identity-theft prevention laws, impose significant security and administrative requirements on companies. The problem is that there are no regulation-specific technology standards or guidelines that companies can adopt to demonstrate compliance with these requirements.

The regulations have considerably increased the legal exposure of companies in the event of security breaches, said Erin Kenneally, a forensic analyst and attorney at the San Diego Supercomputer Center in La Jolla, Calif. "From a legal-risk standpoint, it is a very unstable field," Kenneally said.

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