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Today's turbulent economy is producing a perfect storm for massive insider threats. Shotgun mergers on a grand scale, which historically would take months of due diligence to complete, are happening over the weekend. Staggering levels of layoffs are being announced weeks before they're being executed, leaving employees in a state of fear and uncertainty. And, to add to our angst, the talking heads on the nightly news maintain a running dialogue about the economy that bounces between global recession and massive depression.



At the same time, there is more temptation and more opportunity to commit fraud than ever before. Why? Because there is now a market for stolen data -- a sophisticated network of organized criminals trafficking in personal information -- social security numbers, bank account information, etcetera. Via the Internet, criminals are actually soliciting employees to trade confidential information for money. A former Countrywide Financial employee was recently arrested for selling mortgage customer data to one of these criminal networks over a two-year period. As many as two million customers may have had their personal data compromised.

To avoid falling victim to escalating insider threats, organizations should take note of a rapidly emerging category of identity management called identity governance. Identity governance enables companies to identify, measure, and manage the risk associated with employee access to sensitive applications and data. These products and services address the business and IT dimensions of managing risk. Identity governance approaches identity management as a cross-department, enterprise discipline that provides a layer of intelligence to give institutions the business insights needed to strengthen IT controls and protect corporate assets.

Now more than ever before, the issue of good identity governance is a strategic imperative for global companies. It is critical for organizations to inventory, analyze and understand the access rights of their employees -- and be ready to answer the critical question “who has access to what?” The better a company understands which users have access to critical corporate assets, the better it can realistically understand its potential risks if the organization acquires another company, is acquired by another company, or undergoes a significant downsizing.

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