Protection Key for Organizations That Aggregate Data

Patrick Avery

The purpose of this Protecting Aggregated Data research guide, provided by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, and uploaded recently to the Knowledge Network, is to discuss the security issues, business impacts, and potential strategies of U.S. industry, government, and academic organizations that create and maintain large aggregations of data, such as digital repositories, databases, data warehouses, and aggregated information systems.


The paper first examines characteristics of data and information with respect to how they create security management challenges when information is compiled and aggregated. The paper highlights consequences, negative impacts and ramifications to organizations, partners, and users due to data compromise including manipulations, disruptions, disclosures, thefts, and loss. Finally, the paper discusses effective security management approaches and strategies to address the issues and to mitigate risks.


In their ongoing quest for improved operational efficiency, organizations have come to rely on the ability to collect, access, and process large volumes of electronic data (aggregated data). This reliance has evolved with the development of sophisticated database software and the growing availability of hardware with storage capacity measured in terabytes. By possessing such large volumes of data, however, organizations assume certain risks and responsibilities:

  • Large data stores are valuable informational assets that have become targets for cyber criminals.
  • Electronic data can be easily copied, modified, and distributed, making the total retrieval or destruction of compromised or stolen data assets impossible to confirm.
  • Owners and custodians of large data stores assume responsibility for maintaining the privacy and integrity of the information under their control.

By working to ensure the security of the aggregated data in their charge, organizations can not only avoid the negative consequences associated with a data security

breach, but strengthen their relationships with customers and partners and enhance their reputations in the community at large. That's where this guide should help.

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