Category

Data Protection

Do you control YOUR data and how exactly do you “control” it?

By | Data Privacy, Data Protection | No Comments

Privacy legislation has been on the horizon for almost as long as security legislation. Every year, digital tracking techniques get better (or creepier, depending on your perspective).  What if all these privacy rules/regulations actually came to fruition? What does “controlling your data” really mean – for the end user and corporations alike?

It’s hard to imagine what the internet would be like without advertisement supported projects like the Google search engine. That search engine is good because it uses data from a variety of sources to improve it. Microsoft uses data from Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) and its operating systems (e.g. Windows 10) to “improve user experience.” LinkedIn uses data about users to bolster professional networks (and in many cases social networks). What if all the data about your enterprise – including all your users—was configurable by you, and Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, nation states, hackers, data brokers, etc. couldn’t see any of it. Maybe you’ve never thought you could control your enterprise user data to that extent … but we help make that happen.

There are speculations on what the technology landscape could look like when you start to control your own data, including this recent article from CMS Wire. The author mentions that some cookies are on the chopping block (3rd party cookies specifically). Fortunately for big tech they already have workarounds. Facebook has been allowing 1st party cookies for a while now but back-end data sharing agreements (which you probably agreed to with the Terms of Service) will continue to be a ripe source of data. Unfortunately for the end users, there’s really no functional change in the data that is exposed, stored, mined and monetized — even with GDPR and CCPA in full effect.

Truly controlling your enterprise data, including effectively masking your external enterprise footprint, is what we at Grey Market Labs enable with our Opaque platform. We expose privacy controls that administrators can understand and integrate with your existing infrastructure. Opaque is your “easy button” for digital privacy to the outside world (i.e. outside your corporate footprint).  Sometimes you need to control what users within and outside your organization have access to. We recently announced a partnership with Virtru to bring their TDF-enabled encryption and access controls to Opaque. Share data from within our platform to a user in another cloud, manage their access as desired, and get full audit of when they access it. If you need more granular controls (such as preventing a user from copying text you shared) you can share the data to have it open within Opaque directly – completely clientless. Our Virtru integration is a welcome layer of our defense in depth strategy.

Grey Market Labs® and Virtru Partner to Deliver Secure Analytics

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Even with technological advancements in data processing, machine learning, and other analytics, organizations face challenges when sharing valuable data with collaborators due to a lack of transparency and ownership of data once it leaves its source point. Enterprises and agencies often rely on virtual machines to safely collaborate on their most sensitive information without losing control and giving up access to third parties, but existing solutions restrict the ways in which data can be classified, protected, audited, and shared across different platforms.

Grey Market Labs® and Virtru solve this problem by enabling data owners to maintain full lifecycle control over their sensitive information and securely share it for approved analysis. Grey Market Labs®’ Opaque platform offers patented secure virtual environments in which individuals can view and manipulate their TDF-protected data without ever having to expose this sensitive information.

Virtru’s Trusted Data Platform (TDP) is powered by the Trusted Data Format (TDF)—an open standard for object-level encryption created by Virtru Co-Founder and CTO, Will Ackerly, that keeps data protected and under the owner’s control. This technology ensures that companies can send information in a secure way that limits exposure risks.  Combined with the Opaque platform collaborators can have the assurance that content will always remain under their ownership, protected from misuse or unauthorized access.

Together, Virtru and Grey Market Labs® provide the ability to:

  • Share data more securely by adding persistent protections and attribute-based access control (ABAC). The Opaque platform uses TDF protections to ensure the integrity of sensitive data as it is shared from its original owner, so it can be trusted to inform business decisions and remain protected regardless of how it is analyzed or manipulated. Data owners can revoke, expire, or audit access to information at any point in its lifecycle, making it easier to share and collaborate with multiple parties. With ABAC, data created by different organizations in different applications can carry the same protections and access policies—whether the content is being collaborated on within a secure enclave, shared in transit, or brought outside of Opaque for offline consumption.
  • Improve performance with expanded access to analytic tools. By enabling granular audit of users and data activity, Opaque makes it easy for organizations to provide assurances that information can securely travel across environments and systems it might not otherwise be permitted to reach. As a result, end-users can ingest and analyze their most sensitive data using a broad array of collaboration and analytic tools, whether desktop, web-based, or cloud-based. Each Opaque virtual environment can be preloaded with the applications needed for an individual data analyst to perform his or her work and since each environment is isolated, owners are granted administrative rights to their virtual environments enabling them to safely configure instances on-demand.
  • Increase data transparency and accountability. By increasing transparency into where and how data is being shared, organizations can enhance trust and ensure they are safeguarding private information while providing the defensible audit of data to ensure regulatory compliance or third-party audits.

For more information, please contact Kris Schroeder, CEO at Grey Market Labs.

The Challenge of In-House Data Protection and Privacy

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If you are a mid-size or larger business, you have an overworked security team. Those teams have responsibility across dozens of business areas, from executive protections, to cyber defense, to insider threat and more, many with competing priorities. Increasingly, security practitioners recognize that protecting customer or individual privacy is the most proactive way to protect the most important and sensitive activities of an organization (Apple Declines new API’s Due to Privacy Concerns).

The challenge is in the implementation – some companies with in-house engineering skill, or the resources to hire consulting firms, have tried to enact “enterprise privacy” by cobbling together integrations of “no track” VPN providers, isolated browsers, and imposing increasingly strict firewall and application rules. The end result is an increasingly costly environment to maintain and, in the end, a net decrease of the end user productivity with restrictions on internet services. In fact, these environments can be so brittle they actually increase the chance of compromise, since failure of one piece in this puzzle. For example, last month seven ‘no log’ Hong Kong VPN providers were accused of leaking 1.2TB of user logs onto the internet via unsecured Elasticsearch cluster (“No track” UFO VPN exposes user data). If any company or individual employees used those servers during that time, they were exposed and were ripe targets for hacking. Whether this was a misconfiguration or something worse, exposed VPNs are just one example of the fragility that comes with home-grown privacy solutions.

The goal should be to isolate external-facing internet activity and implement an architecture that enables zero-trust. While that sentence is buzzword heavy, the isolation approach limits exposure of any one component of a system, so if a VPN is compromised it doesn’t necessarily mean the company will be impacted. Also, when you bring in zero-trust concepts to a completely controlled environment, a company can increase the level of data sharing that is available while at the same time increasing data protection and privacy. Expect and ask more from the tech industry.

Grey Market Labs is a Public Benefit Corporation founded with the social mission to protect life online. We build revolutionary software and hardware products, and partner with like-minded industry leaders, to create a future with “privacy-as-a-service”.

Simply: we prevent data from being compromised and protect our customers work, online.

Contact us to see how we can work together.

Security Considerations for Enterprise Remote Access

By | Data Privacy, Data Protection, Information Security | No Comments

Remote-access technologies are top-of-mind for most IT professionals now, and remote work is a trend which is likely here to stay for the long term. If you’re looking to update your organization’s security policy, NIST has recently published an excellent bulletin outlining some of the unique security challenges posed by remote work.

NIST categorizes remote-access technologies into four main categories: Tunneling, Portals, Direct Application Access, and Remote Desktop Access.  With the rise of BYOD (bring your own device) policies and cloud-based applications, it has become common for organizations to employ multiple solutions for remote access, each with their own unique security considerations.   Regardless of which remote-access technologies your organization is using, it is important to continually ensure each is being used in a way that protects data from compromise.

The NIST bulletin highlights a few important points:

  • Organizations should assume that devices used for remote work will be compromised. Make sure that sensitive data is encrypted, or better yet, implement solutions that don’t store any sensitive data on client devices.
  • Devices used in external environments are under greater risk for compromise than devices in enterprise environments, so tighter security controls are advisable. Security controls can also vary widely by device, so you may need to give more specific security guidance for BYOD devices used for remote work.
  • Each additional form of remote access that is exposed increases the risk of compromise. This can be mitigated by implementing tiers of access for different client devices, and by situating remote access servers so they serve as a single point of entry.

Grey Market Labs is a Public Benefit Corporation with the mission to “protect life online”. Our Advisory services can help you navigate the conflicting and overwhelming enterprise privacy and data protection guidance. Our products provide cost-effective and comprehensive privacy-as-a-service, delivering proactive internet protection for remote work and distributed teams. Simply: we prevent data from being compromised, establish trust between users and protect our customers work, online. CONTACT US to see how we can solve some hard problems together.

Not-so-Private Browsing Mode

By | Data Privacy, Data Protection | No Comments

Have you ever used a “private” browsing window before?  You might know it as “Incognito Mode” in Chrome, “InPrivate” in Edge, or “Private Browsing Mode” in Safari & Firefox.  These private modes may do little more than tell the browser to forget what you did once you close the window.  Search history, pages visited, and what you typed in will be deleted when the browser closes.  However, there are many misconceptions about what private means.  A scientific study conducted on the Misconceptions About Private Browsing Mode found that most users grossly overestimate the protections provided by private browsing modes.   A very important aspect to recognize is that these private browsing modes are concerned about privacy within the scope of the device you are using.  For example, users sharing a laptop may want to use a private browsing mode to conceal login credentials and browsing history from other users of the device.  Information sent over the internet, however, is subject to the same scrutiny as any other traffic sent in regular browsing mode and can be tracked.   So that means, your search history that’s not stored by the browser can still be stored and saved by your search provider, e.g. Google, and traced back to you using more advanced fingerprinting techniques which a private browser does not prevent.

The study found that the wording of the various private browsing disclosures by the major browsers led to many misconceptions and overestimation of the level of privacy actually provided.  The paper’s introduction highlights such misconceptions: “This overestimation reaches far; Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, once stated, ‘If you’re concerned, for whatever reason, you do not wish to be tracked by federal and state authorities, my strong recommendation is to use incognito mode, and that’s what people do.'”  This statement by Schmidt, falsely implies that incognito mode provides more protections than it actually does.  Assuming the intent was not to mislead then that means even the CEO of Google at that time had grossly overestimated the protections provided by private browsing.

Since even the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world has misconceptions about the protections provided by one of his company’s most popular pieces of software, we thought we’d put together a list to help you.  Below, we’ve provided a few of the key items that the average private browsing window does and does not protect you from:

Private Browsing does NOT:

  1. Prevent websites from tracking you
  2. Prevent malware and viruses
  3. Hide the websites you visit
  4. Hide your location
  5. Hide your downloads
  6. Block Ads

Private Browsing does:

  1. Prevent your web activity being saved locally by the browser
  2. Prevent most data that is usually saved in non-private browsing sessions from being exposed
  3. Share data between other private browsing tabs during a session
  4. Make you feel safer without providing the level of protection you need to be anonymous

Uses for Private Browsing:

  1. On a shared computer with other users such as a family computer or in a library.
  2. To avoid leaving a trace of past activity on any computer.
  3. To log into the same site with a second account.
  4. To test how a site looks to a new user.

 


 

Grey Market Labs is a Public Benefit Corporation founded with the social mission to protect life online for people and organizations. Our software and hardware products are creating a future with privacy-as-a-service, delivering proactive internet protection from the moment of access to countering exploitation of digital behavior and activity. Simply: we prevent data from being compromised, establish trust between users and protect our customers work, online.

Contact us to see how we can work together.