The critical information of a business is now one of the most valuable asset. There are risks to sensitive corporate data are exposed to and it is important to know the protective measures. The critical information of a company is now one of the most valuable corporate values. Moreover, with the entry into force of various laws (like GDPR, CLOUD Act), compliance with data protection regulations has become a crucial factor that should be integrated into the in-house information security strategy. For various reasons, it is important for companies to gain a clear understanding of the various threats to the security of their data. Only then can they use the right tools, technologies and processes to prevent data breaches.
E-mail and web are the two most common channels for business collaboration around the world. These communication channels have enabled companies over the past two decades to expand global reach, increase operational efficiencies, and drive business growth. However, with the proliferation of security breaches in recent years, they also pose an increased risk of cyber-attacks and data leakage. While increasing IT security breaches vary in nature, the result is mostly the same: reputation damage and financial loss. The question businesses should ask what exactly is considered critical information. Regardless of which industry a company operates in, all companies have sensitive or confidential data. This includes personal information such as employee records, customer data and files, as well as financial data and reports, project data, medical records, intellectual property and IT data (systems, software, printers, network drives, etc.). This list can be extended by further industry-specific data. Essentially, particularly sensitive information is one that can cause damage should they fall into the hands of competitors, can affect customers if they are stolen or lost, could cause regulatory problems.
A good understanding of the key security threats to critical information ensures that companies can introduce cost-effective protection. Basically, there are two information security threat categories : internal and external threats.
Ignorance or lack of understanding increases the risk of data loss
The greatest threat to IT security within a business is a lack of understanding of risks and their consequences. Educating all the employees and sensitizing them to threats is a cost-effective way to reduce the threat potential and create a culture of security awareness. It is important to cover all hierarchical levels, from the management level to the trainees.
In addition to education, it is necessary to introduce guidelines and established procedures. Data security and privacy should not be the responsibility of a small team or individual. Rather, they are part of the responsibility of all employees. The security situation of a company must be controlled from top to bottom. Ideally, a cross-departmental team should be set up to effectively increase IT security.
Accidental data leaks
If the employees unintentionally send the wrong information to the wrong person, this is referred to as an accidental data leak. Depending on what type of data leak, the result can be devastating. Many companies are unaware of this fact, but in fact, every day, confidential data is routed out of the company unintentionally. Sensitive metadata (author names, track changes, printer and IT system data) are embedded or attached to documents and files that each team works on. They can contain sensitive information as well as be used for phishing attacks and other external attacks. These data must be secured and protected from leaving the company.
Often, it is also the company’s freely accessible Web site, which is a rich source of phishing material that can be seen by cybercriminals and sold on the Dark Web. The bottom line of such cases is that mishaps happen. However, there are tools that protect the team and their organization from this type of data loss. The metadata can be removed, for example, by means of document cleansing aka sanitization. This can be done manually, but human errors can happen, so automated solutions should be considered as well.
Why think about risk of data loss
In recent years, apart from accidental data leakage, there have also been numerous international cases in which employees have specifically turned against their company. This affected global corporations such as Sony or Google, but also small and medium-sized companies. Preventing data loss must be your top priority. Once you think about data security, you need to think testing by calling the professionals to check the vulnerability and try to penetrate systems. However, how much trust you can have in their efforts and they will not steal your data come in the sector of unsolved questions.