SEC fines Morgan Stanley Smith Barney $35 million over failure to protect consumer information


The monetary giant employed a moving company without any experience in data damage to

Morgan Stanely building and logo. Morgan Stanley is an American multinational financial services with hard disks

with the individual data of around 15 million clients, stated the SEC.< img src=""alt ="Morgan Stanely building and logo. Morgan Stanley is an American international financial services corporation." width ="1400"height="954"/ > Image: Adobe Stock Morgan Stanley Smith Barney (MSSB )has made itself a substantial fine from the U.S. federal government after stopping working to secure the personally recognizable information(PII)of millions ofconsumers. In a notice posted Monday, the SEC revealed that the company consented to the company’s finding that it breached federal regulations concerning the securing and disposal of customer information. In reaction, MSSB has accepted pay a penalty of $35 million.

Why was Morgan Stanley Smith Barney fined?

Must-read security protection

The finding originates from actions dating back as far as 2015 in which MSSB overlooked to correctly get rid of hardware consisting of the PII of its clients. Tasked with decommissioning thousands of disk drives and servers with client information on numerous occasions, the business employed a moving and storage company without any experience in information damage and stopped working to keep track of the company’s work, according to the SEC.

The firm’s examination discovered that the moving company offered countless the servers and hard disks, some with consumer PII, to a third party. Those devices ultimately were resold on a web auction site, still with the consumer information on them. MSSB recovered some of the gadgets, however most are still missing out on, including 42 servers. The recuperated gadgets were found with unencrypted client info. Although the business had actually equipped them with an file encryption option, it overlooked to activate that feature.

“MSSB’s failures in this case are amazing,” said Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC’s Enforcement Department. “Clients entrust their personal info to financial specialists with the understanding and expectation that it will be safeguarded, and MSSB fell woefully brief in doing so. If not appropriately secured, this sensitive details can end up in the incorrect hands and have devastating effects for investors.”

SEE: Mobile device security policy (TechRepublic Premium)

What was MMSB’s response?

On its end, MSSB abided by the SEC’s order and consented to pay the fine without admitting or rejecting the real findings. In a declaration sent to TechRepublic, an MSSB representative said: “We are pleased to be solving this matter. We have previously informed relevant clients relating to these matters, which took place a number of years ago, and have not found any unauthorized access to, or misuse of, individual customer info.”

However MSSB clearly made several errors in this chain of occasions. The business stopped working to effectively vet the moving and storage company. It stopped working to monitor the work of that firm. And it stopped working to carry out the proper file encryption although the option was available.

“The case of MSSB is special given that they provided disk drives and servers to a 3rd party while keeping PII in plaintext,” said Gil Dabah, co-founder and CEO of security firm Piiano. “Generally, opponents should get credentials utilizing social hacking or making use of recognized vulnerabilities. A few lines of defense are required (like gain access to control, tokenization, masking, etc) to prevent unapproved access to PII. Here, basic encryption would have resolved the issue.”

The fine integrated with MSSB’s failures to safeguard personal data should act as a wake-up call to other companies that collect and keep delicate customer info.

“The size of the fine speaks with the presence that information security need to have within a company,” stated Mike Puterbaugh, CMO at security company Pathlock. “Suffice to say this must be viewed as a board-level accountability topic. This news ought to create a call to action to evaluate information security capabilities (tools, processes, and so on) and make sure that internal audits incorporate the screening and proving of data security controls.”

SEE: Password breach: Why pop culture and passwords do not blend (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Recommendations for companies

How can companies make sure they’re properly securing client data and avoid regulative or legal problems?

“Organizations ought to begin with the most attractive target for information thef– business applications that every company trusts,” Puterbaugh stated, pointing out ERP, HR, and supply chain apps as particular examples.

Proper information security requires that companies have the required tools for evaluating their controls, according to Puterbaugh. This consists of role-based access controls that determine who can perform what jobs and policy-based gain access to controls designed to dynamically secure data.

“What is necessary for business boards and leadership to understand is that data security requires business (the lines of company that depend on the business applications that save sensitive information) and IT (accountable for securing and securing more comprehensive systems) to work together to produce effective policies for protecting delicate information,” Puterbaugh included.

If your organization requires a policy for properly getting rid of delicate electronic information, TechRepublic Premium has one to get you started. Click here to download it now and subscribe to get to more useful resources.


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