Home Strategy What is Data Leakage? How to Secure Your Data

What is Data Leakage? How to Secure Your Data


Almost every day, there is a new story about a high-profile data breach. Small- and medium-sized businesses of all sizes, as well as those in the public sector, are all at risk from data leakage, which is also known as low or slow data theft. This is a danger that every company will wish to avoid at all costs.

Data Leakage Defined

To put it simply, data leakage refers to the unauthorized transmission of data from within a company to an outside recipient. When referring to data that is sent electronically or physically, the phrase might be employed. Data leakage is usually common through the web or email, but mobile data storage devices, such as optical discs, USB keys, and laptops, can also be at risk.

Types of data leakage

Depending on how or by whom the breach happens, various types of data leakage can be identified.

Malicious insidersEx-employees or business partners who are dissatisfied with their jobs may try to steal or sell company data to competitors.Physical exposureEmployees frequently leave critical data on hard drives or USB devices that are left unattended.
Electronic communicationMany companies are encouraging their employees to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to work and allowing them to do so. If the user clicks on a suspicious link, hackers can gain access to their devices and personal information.Accidental leakageHuman error is the most common cause of data leakage. Mishaps include personnel transmitting crucial information to the wrong people, faults in security procedures such as excessive rights to critical files, and exposed sensitive data due to unpatched software vulnerabilities.

Examples of data leakage include:

  • It is possible for sensitive information to be released to unauthorized parties if cloud servers are left exposed to the internet.
  • Unencrypted removable media devices (e.g., USB sticks), laptops, and other portable devices containing sensitive information could be compromised if they are misplaced.
  • The sensitive information on confidential documents is at risk when they are left in the printer’s tray. 

What Do Cyber Criminals Look for in Data Leaks? 

  1. Customer Information

Despite the fact that this data varies from firm to company, the general parameters for customer information remain the same.

  • Identity information: all the basic information like name, email address, phone number, etc
  • Activity information: Information about previous purchases and payments, browsing patterns, and other aspects of use
  • Credit card information: cards, CVV, expiration dates, billing zip codes are all examples of personal information
  1. Company Information
  • Memos, emails, and other papers used for internal communication within the firm
  • Metrics: data on the company’s performance, forecasts, and more
  • Strategic messaging, Rolodexes, roadmaps, and other business-critical details

It is possible that the disclosure of this type of information could hamper company initiatives, provide competitors with insight into company operations, and expose the corporate culture. Bigger companies are generally interested in this kind of information.

  1. Trade Secrets

This is the most sensitive information that can be leaked. You need this information if you want to succeed in business. The following are examples of trade secrets:

  • A description of a product or service’s blueprints, formulas, or designs
  • Proprietary technology that is either sold or developed in-house by the firm.
  • Methods of commercialization: strategy and contacts in the market
  1. Analytics

Analytic data includes

  • Psychographic data: Personal preferences, personality traits, demographics, and messages are all included here.
  • Behavioral data: Information about how a user navigates a website.
  • Predicted characteristics based on previous data collected through the use of modeling

Ways To Prevent Data Leakage

Now, the question that arises here is how to secure your data from such breaches. You can follow these six steps that will help you strengthen security and prevent data leak problems:

  1. Preventing data breaches begins with understanding what information can be freely shared and who should have access to the rest of your data. It is possible to categorize and safeguard all of your data with the help of data discovery and classification.
  2. Risk assessment is the only way to identify where you’re most susceptible. Consider employing an industry-standard like the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) assessment methodology for risk assessment and risk management (NIST). According to the NIST SP 800-30 publication, procedures are laid out.
  3. The next step is to put in place the appropriate security measures. The NIST 800-53 standard might help you select appropriate controls. Among the best practices:
  • A framework that helps firms develop and maintain policies for access to sensitive information is called identity and access management (IAM).
  • Encryption, which encrypts data so that it can’t be deciphered even if it reaches the wrong hands;
  • Ensuring just the access rights necessary for a user’s work is a key component of good data access governance.
  • Misconfigurations and other security flaws can be avoided with the help of change management and auditing.
  • Unusual behavior that could result in a potential data leak can be detected using UEBA, which stands for User and Entity Behavior Analytics.
  1. There is 58 percent of firms concerned that their staff may disregard organizational and executive security standards, putting company data at risk, according to the Cyber Threats Report. On a frequent basis, conduct security training for all staff, including executives, in order to minimize the chance of costly blunders.
  2. A data leak can be avoided or reduced in scope if you are able to identify and respond to suspicious activity in a timely manner. Security gaps can be closed quickly if you receive alerts about changes in crucial configuration parameters or notice that a user has copied sensitive data to a local machine.
  3. If data leaks cause the loss of content, a backup plan should be put in action to recover it asap. Implement a thorough test of a recovery strategy for all critical data.

Bottom Line

How worried are you that an ex-employee could cause harm to important corporate data such as account passwords and other proprietary data? Keeping in mind these six data security guidelines to keep your private information safe from hackers can help you secure your data in a hassle-free manner.

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