All Things Distributed
The important part about the laptop with 243,000 customer records including credit cards stolen is not the theft itself. It is what the heck these credit card numbers were doing on the laptop in the first place. They should never, ever have been there. There is no reason they should have left the ultra secure location they were kept in.
If you are running an online business you have to guard your customer’s data with your life. Credit card information should be kept in a physical secure location separate from your other servers with armed guards in front of it (I am not kidding). The location should not only be physically isolated but also electronically. Credit card info should reach that location through end-to-end encryption from the customer. Any software that would need to operate on these credit cards should run inside secure location with a strict audited minimalist one-way API. You then employ a group of hackers whose goal in life it is to break into this facility. Credit card information should not be allowed out of the location ever, not physically, not electronically.
I won't tell you exactly how we implement our schemes but to get to Amazon customer credit cards you will need a small army of Marines. Although recently we have been discussing to place physical and electronic booby-traps such that the servers will self-destruct when compromised, to deal with such full physically attack ...