What worries you more, a hacker lurking in the Internet’s dark corners or Bob from accounts? Sorry it’s a trick question, it’s both, as company employees pose just as much of a threat as cyberthieves.

Whenever confidential data ends up somewhere it shouldn’t, your organisation can be damaged – financially and reputationally. To fix the problem you need to know what happened, why it happened and how it happened, so you can put measures in place to prevent it happening again. Terms such as “data leakage” and “data loss” are often used to describe such events, but there are differences between the two.

Data Loss: Refers to data you can no longer locate or access, been destroyed or been tampered with.

Data Leakage: The unauthorised transmission of data to another person or entity. The data may still be intact in its original location: for example, still on your server or PC without having been deleted or modified. Nevertheless, the data is now known to or in the possession of somebody else.

By comparison, data leakage can happen without data loss, and vice versa. With data loss the data is no longer where you expect it to be or has been corrupted to become unrecoverable. In this case, it’s obvious there is something wrong. Here’s an example for illustration;

In 2007, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) potentially exposed the personal data of 25 million people, including dates of birth, bank details and National Insurance numbers when 2 CDs disappeared in the internal mail. Although they still had the data on their systems, they had to assume that the missing CDs had led to “unauthorised transmission of data” resulting in a data leakage.

So, how can you seal up any leaks within your organisation?

Use Encryption

If your business has not already done so, you should consider encrypting any private, confidential or sensitive information. While encryption is not impenetrable, it remains one of the best ways to keep sensitive data secure. Enabling encryption across different points of your network, including data at rest and in transit, can provide significant protection from even the most advanced attacks.

Monitor Access and Activity

The ability to automatically discover, map and track what is deployed across your entire business infrastructure provides a picture of your network in real-time. It is suggested that the potential hacker could conduct reconnaissance for up to 6 months before anything is tampered with. The use of monitoring tools will help supervise the access and activity across the network, notifying administrators of red flags when an employee downloads, copies or deletes information.


Endpoint Security

Data also leaves networks through exit points throughout your IT infrastructure therefore securing and monitoring your endpoints will help prevent data leaking from these exit points. Retaining control with the ability to monitor personal devices connected to corporate networks allows holistic observations of your network. Without this endpoint protection, data breaches can go unrecognized for longer periods of time, leaving you more exposed to insider threats.

Fighting against data leakage is an ongoing battle that requires constant vigilance but is necessary to seal up any data leaks that are occurring. Don’t let that leak turn into a burst pipe exposing mass amounts of data.

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