Consequences of information leakage

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The role of information in any company is great. Access to other people's information gives companies an edge in the competition, the leakage of important data leads to financial losses and even liquidation of companies. Therefore, secret corporate information must be protected at all stages of use: during creation, movement and storage.

What does information leakage entail?

The development of information technology increases the risk of data loss. Any interference in enterprise systems risks harming the company, therefore, when using electronic media and transferring information, it is better to tighten control over channels. It is especially important to protect trade secrets, inventions, new developments, databases, and work correspondence.

The main negative consequences of a leak of confidential information are direct financial damage; deterioration of the company's reputation; loss of customers, partners, suppliers, product markets, etc.

The amount of damage caused by information leakage depends on many factors:

  • lost profits due to a damaged image;
  • penalties;
  • compensation payments for claims;
  • decrease in the value of the company's shares when it comes to joint-stock companies, if the data hit the insider information market;
  • direct damage: the cost of developing design and technological solutions, lost tenders, non-concluded contracts and other circumstances.

It is difficult to fully assess the volume of losses, especially since there are no such statistics in Russia, and business is guided by the experience of foreign companies affected by the leak of confidential information. For example, according to the Cost of Data Breach study, in the United States, the loss of customers costs the average company $ 4.13 million, and at least another $ 1.5 million is spent on investigation, rehabilitation and legal costs.

Ways of disclosing information

Research in the field of information security confirms that most of the leaks are due to problems within the company itself, and not due to external hacks or hacker attacks.

Confidential information most often leaves the company through the fault of employees. Actions that lead to incidents pump:

  • accidental or deliberate disclosure of confidential data;
  • bribery, blackmail and other illegal actions by competitors or criminals who persuade company personnel to cooperate;
  • lack of inappropriate control and non-compliance with the conditions for ensuring information security;
  • exchange of production experience;
  • lack of control over how employees use enterprise information systems;
  • conflicts between employees, which can be provoked by random selection of personnel, lack of steps to build a team, psychological incompatibility of employees and other personnel problems.

The types of information that are most harmful if leaked

Leaks of confidential information depend on the type and format of corporate data storage. Attackers steal:

  • financial and project documentation of the enterprise: accounting reports, business projects, contracts, development plans and other documents;
  • personal information: customer bases and personal data of company employees;
  • technological, technical, design documentation, know-how, etc .;
  • documents for internal use: presentations, training programs for personnel, service instructions, etc .;
  • technical data that can be used to access the enterprise network: passwords, logins, information about protection methods, network topology, etc .;
  • information that can worsen the reputation of the company or management: customer complaints, negative correspondence with employees, meeting recordings, etc.

Actions in case of information leak

To combat the consequences of a leak, several steps are required:

  1. Locate and protect the source of the leak.
  2. Identify people who are interested in personnel leakage with access to confidential information.
  3. Identify information that may have been affected by the leak.
  4. Warn people about the incident who could be harmed by the stolen information.
  5. Contact law enforcement if necessary.
  6. Minimize damage as much as possible.

The analysis of user activity on the corporate network helps to find out who is involved in the information leak. For this purpose, monitoring systems are used that analyze information flows within the enterprise, or DLP systems, which are designed to protect against information leaks from the corporate network and from insider actions.

The next step is to identify the people who received the information from the enterprise. This will help you understand how and to whom the disclosure of information valuable to the enterprise is threatened. The search depends on what data is stolen. Next, you need to establish whether there was a passing leak of other information. Thus, all damage and consequences for the company and partners are assessed.

It is imperative to notify those who may have suffered from a data breach. Most organizations try to hide the incident, but withholding often leads to the opposite effect, and companies fail to minimize the damage. In addition, persons who could potentially suffer from a leak, but are not aware of it, do not take measures to protect their interests. As a result, when the public becomes aware of the incident, the company will lose trust and loyalty from both customers and partners.

In case the leak is serious, it is better to contact the law enforcement agencies. With the help of the law, it is increasingly possible to punish those responsible for data leaks and other cybersecurity incidents. Despite the fact that there are practically no show trials in courts that could force employees to take responsibility for the storage and use of confidential information. DLP systems help to collect evidence, which monitor transmission channels, generate reports and automatically alert about potential threats.

How to minimize damage

To mitigate the damage from an already existing leak of confidential data, you need to speed up the business processes to which the data is related. For example, as soon as possible to bring a developed model to the market or close a large deal. Once the business processes are completed, the stolen information is no longer relevant.

If it is impossible to speed up the process for objective reasons, additional resources should be attracted. If we are talking about a new model, an advertising campaign, demonstration of products at the next exhibition, publications in the media will help. Similar measures apply not only to technological developments, but also to marketing research, business planning and other areas of activity.

Disclosure of information in the public field, indicating the culprit in the incident and, if known, the customer, will also help to reduce the consequences of the leak. Such an option, of course, is possible only when there is convincing evidence of the involvement of persons in theft or "leaking", otherwise the applicant will receive counter-charges - of libel.

To protect yourself from lawsuits and reduce compensation, you need to warn about the leakage of customers, business partners, and employees involved in the information. You can offer monetary compensation for damage, the costs will all be lower than for payments by court order plus payment of court costs.

It is impossible to predict when and what information stolen will cause damage. The best way to avoid the consequences of a leak is to prevent the leak itself. This requires comprehensive protection: control various channels of information transmission, detect and block confidential data in case of violation of security rules. It is important to use reliable security systems that not only prevent theft and leakage of information, but also identify those responsible. Only comprehensive solutions can reduce the impact of confidential information leakage.