Yahoo, Visa, AIG/Chartis, Baker & McKenzie offer tips on security

yahoo-Laura_photoHow does one define security in era of global business and instant communications?

The risks are vast, the danger are numerous, yet there are also a handful of simple solutions that can increase your odds against kidnapping, data or intellectual property theft, argued a panel of experts during WorldCity’s Global Connection on Sept. 28.

“Privacy has a different meaning and it doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” said Laura Juanes, director for international privacy with Yahoo!’s Privacy, Policy and Trust Group. “It depends on culture, geography, and on the technology or service you’re using.”

Yet rather than being paralyzed by fear, she advocated thinking logically about what business and individuals can do to secure their data.

It’s “things like not sharing your passwords, not having 1-2-3-4 on all of your accounts, protecting your laptop and cell phones with passwords,” she added.

The one area it seemed like protection was mostly out of the consumers’ hands was in financial transactions. Though common sense safety measures such as unique passwords, protecting your cards and personal information still apply, hackers are always becoming more sophisticated.

VISA_Salvador-Perez-GalindoThis leaves much of the challenge to companies like Visa, who say their taking a more broad-reaching approach.

“It’s a priority to provide security throughout the whole value chain … from the merchant that accept payments to banks that accept the transaction,” said Salvador Pérez-Galindo, senior business leader of government relations for Visa Latin America and the Caribbean. “What’s happening are increasingly sophisticated attacks going from a merchant database to the bank.”

As companies continue adding in layers of security, there’s also a shift toward data as a commodity.

Though there’s no law in the United States guaranteeing consumer data secrecy, it’s being used in myriad ways across a variety of industries. “I think it’s the new world. Data and customer information is what the companies are looking for,” said Marta Clark, vice president of Latin America and the Caribbean for Adobe Systems. “I don’t want everybody to know everything about me to know, but I want them to know what I like.”

Meanwhile security for companies also means protecting their products and intellectual property. In Adobe’s case, it’s constantly fighting illegal downloads of its suite of print and web design products that cost upwards of $600 a piece.

BakerMcKenzie_LisaMeyerhoff_Photo“I would say that people need to be thinking globally and acting locally,” said panelist Lisa Meyerhoff, a partner in law firm Baker & McKenzie’s Houston office specializing in intellectual property. “There are a lot of companies who are going to say ‘I’m not going to worry, when I expand internationally, I worry about that when it gets there.’”

Wrong move. Often times, she added, a company will look to expand internationally and find that its trademarks and licenses have been already been filed.

“Different countries treat you differently when you have to file a patent,” Meyerhoff said. “Some things can be fixed and there are many things that can’t. These things are “easily protected, but easily taken,” she added.

Many of the security ‘best practices’ Juanes of Yahoo! advised were in line with what Angie Tijerino, regional manager for the Kidnap and Ransom division at AIG/Chartis International, recommended.

Among them were the obvious, doing research beforehand, not drawing attention to oneself and not taking cabs off the street. “If you go to the same country, change your routine, make it difficult to for people to follow you because kidnappers will do surveillance on you,” she said. “Try not to be that person who shows up to work at 7:30 a.m. every day.

“You can take all these measures,” she added, “but if they want you they will get to you.”

Global Connections is one of five event series organized by WorldCity to bring together executives on international business topics. The series is sponsored by Florida International University’s graduate School of Business, Waterford at Blue Lagoon, Chevron and the Miami Marlins.