Optimal Auctions, Inc. utilizes the strictest security measures that, when taken in total, exceed best practices in the industry to ensure data security. Security requires a commitment to process and technology applied at all points in the system and for all users whether administrative or participants. Furthermore, security is relevant for all components of the project, including both the asset information website and the auction software. Optimal's security process is designed to assure that the security elements overlap and interlock. Every aspect of the administrator and user experience is assessed within the methodology and the protocols are especially focused on protecting data and passwords. Security measures are implemented in logical categories which are discussed below.
Physical security means regulating physical access to the servers which host the website and auction application and is comprised of walls, locks, alarms, visual monitoring and authentication procedures. The servers reside in an industry leading third-party data center. Badge access is required by all personnel who enter the data center and there are locked cages and cabinets limiting access to authorized individuals in order to further isolate and protect individual servers. Physical threat detection systems monitor physical security and are integrated into an alert and response system under 24x7x365 monitoring program.
Network security refers to measures taken to protect the server from unauthorized access over the communications network. The server sits behind a hardware firewall which is configured to block any traffic not necessary for the use and administration of the application. Offsite administration access is only permitted through secure 3DES (168 bit) encrypted Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections. The network is monitored 24x7x365 by an intrusion detection system which monitors individual packets as they traverse the network and looks for suspicious traffic based on certain signatures. When a network event is captured, a GIAC and CISSP certified Information Security Team is automatically alerted. This system is also monitored by the operations staff for abnormal trends in network traffic. Any machines which participate on the network or are used for administration are hardened with daily operating system updates and intra-day virus updates.
Platform security refers to measures taken to ensure security for standard off-the-shelf infrastructure software such as the operating system and web server. Server "hardening" protocols are utilized to remove any unnecessary services (including Microsoft IIS), access points, and user accounts. Strong alphanumeric passwords (at least 8 characters, combinations of letters and numbers, with mixed cases) are used and access accounts are created for users to avoid common names. Platform Security Protocols require daily operating system updates and intra-day virus updates. In addition, the system utilizes a host based intrusion detection system which provides automated, real-time intrusion monitoring, detection, and protection by analyzing events, host logs, and inbound and outbound network activity to block malicious activity.
Application security refers to securing data in the auction application as well as the website which provides asset information and documentation. Application security is a critical component because it controls the means through which data is accessible to users. Optimal's software utilizes data level security which grants access to data by user type. This means that users are only able to access data for which they are authorized after a strict identity verification protocol. Individual/company verification (examination of document such as certificates of incorporation, operating licenses, etc) is done and access requires full execution of legal documents (confidentiality agreements, HIPAA business associate agreements, etc) before user access is approved.
Non-intuitive/non-common user IDs and passwords are created for users and are only communicated to users through secure, verified means, such as registered mail and/or verified fax if appropriate. Passwords are never communicated via a non-secure method such as unencrypted email or telephone. Both the website and auction software require that user passwords meet strict requirements (at least 8 characters, combinations of letters and numbers, with mixed cases). Password reset requests follow the same secure, verified procedures as new user setups. Our methodology thwarts many kinds of "social engineering" attacks, the simplest example being asked for a password.
User log on sessions are automatically terminated after a period of inactivity and users are automatically disabled after a given number of failed login attempts.
A highly secure system of code key access facilitates secure backup bidding during an auction event, in case of bidder technical problems. Distinct alphanumeric codes (called code keys) are distributed to bidders before the auction through secured, verified means. If a bidder requests a backup bid, they must provide a code key which is used for authentication and each code key can only be used once.
Payload security refers to protecting data transmission from the secured application server to the end user for all information which is considered confidential (e.g. patient information, prices, bids, etc). Optimal's software application uses the strongest SSL security with up to 256 bit encryption to encrypt data in-transit. This industry standard technology ensures that the data cannot be viewed while in-transit by non-authorized parties and it is the same technology used in secure credit card transactions, online account access/electronic transfers for major banks, and many other sensitive functions.
Personnel Security Process
Employees at Optimal and all transaction participants are subject to a Protected Information Protocol (PIP) which prevents unintentional disclosure of protected information. The PIP contains a roster of each authorized user that has access to the secure information, defines the secure information, defines instructions for keeping the information protected, and requires regular updates to the roster along with security reminders. Users are regularly informed about what sorts of information are protected, who is authorized to receive them and what confidentiality steps are expected of them. This helps ensure that the information will not be unintentionally compromised once the data has successfully been transferred.
Any good security plan continues to evolve as threats evolve and the established security methodology must always being scrutinized for new potential attacks. The chances of security breaches can be minimized by constantly striving to become more secure and remaining vigilant.