The security of your organization’s information is paramount. To achieve this, protecting your data from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure is essential. Unfortunately, all too often, sensitive information still gets into the wrong hands. Understanding how leaks happen is the first step to reducing the likelihood of this happening.
What Are Some Common Causes of Information Leakage?
Information leakage occurs when someone accesses data they are not authorized to view, use, or store. The leaked information could take the form of text, images, audio, or video. Sometimes, it may result from malicious activity, such as hacking. However, quite often, it’s simply the result of careless mistakes.
Consider the following potential causes:
- Using unsecured WiFi networks: Hackers can stalk public WiFi networks to wait for unsuspecting persons to use them. They can monitor the activities of almost all devices not using VPNs and steal log-in credentials.
- Sending unencrypted messages: Some email providers include encryption services that limit the ability of people who intercept the message to understand it. Some instant messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp, also provide end-to-end encryption.
- Failing to dispose of old computers or storage devices properly: The devices you use at your organization have so much data still stored on hard drives. Work with professionals to determine the best way to keep this data out of the hands of unauthorized persons.
- Leaving laptops or other devices unattended in public places: Unattended devices are easier to steal. In some cases, the unauthorized person might only steal the information by noting what they see, saving it to a hard drive, or taking photos.
- Using easily guessed passwords: Choose passwords randomly and use software to determine which ones are strong enough to hold up against hacking software. The longer the password and the more special characters you use, the better.
- Failing to authenticate requests for information: This goes without saying, but not everyone who asks for information has a right to it. Sometimes, hackers might even get control of authorized accounts and spoof requests. Have a protocol in place to help detect this.
- Failing to detect system glitches that provide unauthorized access: Even Google has suffered system glitches that allowed third-party developers access to customer data. Put plans in place to reduce incidents like this and resolve the issue if detected.
What Can Organizations Do to Prevent Information Leakage?
There is no fool-proof way to prevent information leakage. Even departments operating within closed networks could experience leakage when a worker leaves a file out and goes to lunch. Even so, there are several steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of a leak:
- Encrypt all data: It makes it near impossible for people without the right software to make sense of the data.
- Implement strict access controls: This starts with determining who has a need-to-know right to data and then erring on the side of caution.
- Regularly train employees on security procedures: Employees are a common, unintentional cause of data breaches. Teach them how to be more careful.
- Monitor networks for suspicious activity: Early detection can help you block breaches and stop hackers in their tracks or even bait them.
- Use data loss prevention tools: These tools can help you recover data or can restrict who has a right to destroy particular data sets.
Why Is Preventing Information Leakage Important?
Security breaches have now become a familiar and expected risk of doing business. Consequently, some companies have accepted it as inevitable and focus more on crisis management than actually preventing the crisis. This is a dangerous position to take.
Organizations have a responsibility to protect the information they collect. In many cases, this is a legal requirement. In other cases, it is an ethical one. Failure to uphold this duty could lead to heavy fines and the loss of public and customer trust.
Proactive companies are now spending heavily on preventing information leaks. While the upfront cost is high, facing an actual data breach is even higher, especially when incidents include ransomware attacks. In 2021, ransomware attacks cost companies an average of $2.09 million.
How Can Message Capturing and Archiving Reduce Information Leakage Risks?
One way to reduce the risk of information leakage is to implement a message capturing and archiving solution. This ensures that you capture and store all communication compliantly. It is then only accessible to authorized personnel. It also provides a complete record of all activity, making detecting and preventing leaks easier.
Information leakage is a severe problem that can have far-reaching consequences. You can protect your organization’s data and reputation by taking steps to prevent it. Message archiving is one way to reduce the risk of information leakage. Contact us today to learn more about how LeapXpert can help.