Important: confidential information and your website

Created by Mac Clemmens, Modified on Sun, 29 Apr 2018 at 07:20 PM by Mac Clemmens

Your website content management system is designed to help you easily edit and publish content, distribute your content, and collect information from your users such as comments and webform submissions.

Despite having multiple levels of access control, workflows, and extensive permissions, your website should never be used to store confidential information, specifically any content that would cause harm to your organization if it were released to the public or a third party. 

Some examples of confidential information include:

1. Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

  • NIST Special Publication 800-122 defines PII as "any information about an individual maintained by an agency, including (1) any information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual's identity, such as name, social security number, date and place of birth, mother's maiden name, or biometric records; and (2) any other information that is linked or linkable to an individual, such as medical, educational, financial, and employment information." So, for example, a user's IP address is not classed as PII on its own, but is classified as linked PII.

2. Health-related information (HIPAA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)

3. Credit Card numbers or other transactional information that would be protected by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard

4. Any information that would be potentially damaging to your organization if it were publicly released or obtained by a third party.

Digital Deployment makes every effort to safeguard the content management system by making security patches quickly, using HTTPS by default to secure all website activity, peer-reviewing any changes to the codebase, offering ongoing training and support to clients about access control and permissions, and carrying a cyber insurance policy to extend its professional liability insurance. Despite these measures, Digital Deployment has not certified the platform for PCI or HIPAA compliance, and therefore cannot be liable for any accidental or intentional release of content.

Examples of the accidental or intentional release of content include:

  1. An employee of a school accidentally attaches a document containing admitted students' information instead of a press release and publishes the content for one week before realizing what had happened.
  2. A member of the human resources department creates a job application form that asks for the applicant's SSN. 20 candidates apply. Then, a hacker uses a zero-day exploit on the site and downloads the entire database, including the applicants, form submissions and their social security numbers.
  3. An organization's partner agency asks Digital Deployment to place a marketing pixel (an embedded Javascript widget) in the website's header to track conversions from an ad campaign. Unbeknownst to the agency, the pixel had been compromised and was being used by a 3rd party as a keylogger to steal user credentials and capture webform submissions.
  4. A member association is considering opposing a bill and discussed it in their latest board meeting. A new employee at the association went to add the agenda to the board portal, but accidentally changed the permissions of the document to be "public." A user surfing the site found it,  downloaded the PDF and shared it with the local newspaper which wrote a scathing op/ed about the association's position.
  5. A communications director is working on her home computer which has a compromised browser plugin. The plugin captures her credentials, and her username and password are stolen and used by a third party to email all the members in her email database.

While none of the previous scenarios have occurred, it is important to understand the ways that your website's content management system can be used against your organization. We strongly recommend engaging counsel to help you determine what content is appropriate to store and collect through your website. Digital Deployment is committed to helping you throughout the process.

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