Data leakage refers to unauthorized access or disclosure of sensitive or confidential data. Advancement in information technology has made data vulnerable to various malware attacks leading to the leakage of sensitive and confidential data to the attacker. Data leakage may happen electronically through an email or malicious link or via some physical method such as device theft, hacker break-ins, etc.
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Major Risks to Organizations
The following are a major risk that is encountered by organizations due to data leakage:
- Loss of customer loyalty
- Potential litigations
- Heavy fines
- Decline in share value
- Loss of brand name
- Loss of reputation
- Reduction of sales and revenue
- Unfavorable media attention
- Unfavorable competitor advantage
- Loss of new and existing customers
- Monetary loss
- susceptibility to cyber-criminal attacks
- Loss of productivity
- Disclosure of trade secrets
- Pre-release of the latest technology developed by the company
- Loss of proprietary and customer information
- Piracy of ready to release projects
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Data Leakage Threats
Most of the data attacks come from the insiders only making it much more difficult to prevent or detect them. Disgruntled or negligent employees may leak sensitive data knowingly or unknowingly to the outside world incurring huge financial losses and business interruptions. Employees may use various technologies such as eavesdropping, shoulder surfing, dumpster diving, etc. to gain unauthorized access to information in violation of corporate policies. System misconfiguration and technology failures also enable insider to steal sensitive information. Insider threats are difficult to thwart because insiders are mostly aware of the security loophole of the organization and them because insiders are mostly aware of the security loopholes of the organization and they exploit them to steal confidential information.
Reasons for insider threats:
- Inadequate security awareness and training
- Lack of proper management controls for monitoring employee activities
- Use of insecure mode of data transfers
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Attackers take advantage of insider’s vulnerabilities to perform various attacks by stealing credentials of the legitimate employee. This gives the attacker unlimited access to the target network.
Listed below are some of the external threats:
Hacking/Code Injection Attacks: Attackers exploit vulnerabilities in operating systems, application and databases, which provide them access to confidential information.
Malware: Malicious software such as key logger, spyware, Trojans, backdoors, etc. installed in a system enable the attacker to gain access to the system and steal all the information.
Phishing: An illegitimste emsil or pop-up falsely claiming to be from a legitimate site attempts to acquire the user’s personal or account information.
Corporate espionage/Competitors: Nefarious competitors use different tacrics to gain information such as corporate and marketing strategies, product plans, source code, trade secrets,etc. from the organization.
Business Partners/Contractors: Outsourcing some capabilities to partners pose a significant rise as the have access to sensitive data and even sell them locally without the knowledge of the organization.
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