Government agencies, law firms, and corporations can inadvertently disclose Social Security numbers (SSNs) in a variety of ways, such as sharing personal information in an unsecured or unencrypted email, sending a document that contains an SSN to the wrong recipient, or displaying the SSN in an unsecured location.
When an SSN is accidentally exposed, the risks and consequences can be significant. Inappropriate disclosure of SSN information can result in legal and regulatory exposure, including fines, penalties, and lawsuits. Organizations can also be held liable for violating privacy laws and regulations related to data protection, which can lead to reputational harm. Because SSN disclosure can cause financial loss for the individual affected, organizations might be required to compensate victims for financial losses and harm related to the disclosure.
Casepoint’s eDiscovery solution is designed to help government agencies, law firms, and corporations prevent accidental SSN disclosure by providing the tools and features needed to locate, protect, and redact sensitive information when required, helping organizations avoid potential damages.
Uncovering the Causes of SSN Exposure
Oftentimes accidental SSN disclosure is attributable to human error: intercepted emails, improper disposal of documents, or inappropriate sharing of files containing sensitive information.
Inadequate data security measures can also cause SSN disclosure risk. Weak passwords, insufficient firewalls, unknown dark data, and inadequate encryption introduce vulnerabilities, which are compounded when organizations lack standardized processing procedures.
Organizations that struggle with outdated technologies, overdue updates, and lack of training are ill-equipped to keep up with data security requirements. Legacy solutions can introduce cyberattack risk and leave organizations vulnerable to breaches that they cannot detect before the damage is already done.
Casepoint addresses the limitations of manual processes and legacy solutions by providing a cloud-based eDiscovery platform that is scalable, flexible, secure, and cost-effective. Notably, the Casepoint Platform automates time-consuming and error-prone processes, allowing organizations to benefit from streamlined workflows as well as improved accuracy and efficiency.
Protecting SSNs from Unauthorized Disclosure
As a best practice, organizations should limit the scope of data capture by collecting SSNs only when necessary and limiting the number of individuals who have access to them. Utilizing data encryption, building in multifactor authentication, and requiring frequent password changes reinforce data security protection.
Using alternative identifiers instead of SSNs for employee IDs and customer account numbers can help protect personal information and prevent identity theft or inadvertent disclosure. However, the alternative identifier should be unique to the individual and should not contain numbers that can be easily guessed, such as birth dates and phone numbers. Employees should be trained on the importance of protecting personal information, the appropriate use of the alternative identifier, and how to detect and report suspicious activity.
Using role-based, multi-factor authentication, Casepoint applies strict controls to limit access and ensure that only a small number of authorized people can view sensitive data. To preserve a record of all actions within the system, Casepoint maintains an audit trail that captures user and system activities as well as configuration changes.
Automating Redactions and Continuous Security Monitoring
To ensure that only relevant and non-confidential information is disclosed during document review and production, administrators need automated redaction tools and data masking capabilities. They also need the ability to continuously monitor their systems for potential breaches or unauthorized access and thoroughly investigate suspicious activities.
Casepoint automates redaction and data masking, making the process more efficient and virtually eliminating the possibility of human error. Platform administrators can also exclude specific documents or file types from the document review or production process to protect sensitive information, including SSNs.
In addition, the solution collects and analyzes security events from various sources across the infrastructure, enabling real-time detection and response to security breaches. Intrusion detection and prevention features identify potentially malicious activity and block unauthorized access attempts, while ongoing log-monitoring captures unusual activities and anomalies. The Casepoint solution also performs regular scanning to address security vulnerabilities in the infrastructure and applications.
Mitigating the Impact of a Data Breach
In the instance that a data breach does occur, organizations need to be able to quickly identify and preserve relevant data — including SSNs — as well as prevent further unauthorized access to private data. Collecting, processing, reviewing, and redacting large volumes of data in the context of a data breach can be overwhelming.
Casepoint offers incident-response services for data breaches that include forensic analysis, data recovery, and remediation of security vulnerabilities.
Applying powerful analytics, the solution can map relationships between data points to uncover insights into the cause of a breach. Dashboards, detailed reports, and data visualizations help organize critical information for forensic teams, legal teams, law enforcement, and regulators.
The Casepoint solution can also help organizations comply with data-breach notification requirements by providing notification services to affected individuals, regulatory agencies, and other stakeholders. To facilitate secure and efficient collaboration when responding to a breach, Casepoint can assist with the legal review and documentation of the breach as well as provide guidance on compliance with relevant laws and regulations.
Preventing Future Data Breaches
Containing the damage caused by a data breach requires a thorough review of security measures, including data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and continuous monitoring of potential vulnerabilities.
Organizations should consider integration with leading security tools to ensure that users can manage their identities and access the platform in a secure manner. Additionally, solutions that provide detailed audit trails empower organizations to track all activities on the platform, including user access, data changes, and system updates.
Casepoint eDiscovery helps organizations contain the damage of a data breach and reduce the likelihood of future incidents. With the Casepoint platform’s ongoing security assessments, data monitoring, and threat intelligence, organizations can rest assured they have the measures in place to prevent future breaches.
For more information on Casepoint’s data security and incident response capabilities, please visit our Legal Discovery & Compliance Software Solutions page.