While the average cost of a data breach is $4.24 million(1), the CNIL has identified 5,000 data breach notifications in 2021. A figure that has been steadily increasing over the last few years and a trend that is now impacting companies of all sizes in their IT and digital security policies.
What are the main consequences of a data leak? What measures should be put in place to improve the cybersecurity of your company?
Data leakage: definition
A data leak is the intentional or unintentional disclosure of information that was intended to be private. They can occur when companies or individuals do not properly secure their data, when systems that store confidential data are hacked, or when company members deliberately share confidential information.
What causes data leakage?
Although cyber attacks are the leading cause of a data breach, 3 out of 20 data breaches are from an accidental internal act, and 1 is from a malicious internal act
There are two types of data leaks: accidental data leaks, not linked to a cyber attack (data leak) and intentional data leaks due to a deliberate attack (data breach).
- Incorrect server configuration
- Inadequate security protocols
- Human error (sending an email to the wrong person or not encrypting the information sent)
- Cyberattack by malware designed to steal information
- Malicious employee selling company secrets to a competitor
Why is it important to protect your data?
Business data is the data that organizations collect and store about their customers, employees, operations, products, etc. Some of it is personal data, which the CNIL defines as "any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person". Some of this data is personal data, which the CNIL defines as "any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person". A real asset for businesses, data can enable organizations to improve their efficiency and decision-making, stimulate growth and gain a competitive advantage. For these reasons, companies are an attractive target for hackers and competitors, and can fall victim to both accidental and intentional data leaks. And this trend is not getting any better.
The consequences of these leaks can be severe: damage to the company's reputation, loss of customer and employee trust, financial losses, loss of intellectual property, regulatory sanctions... They can also result in the violation of an individual's privacy or compromise the security of data from suppliers and business partners. The repercussions of these data leaks can thus alter the entire value chain of the company.
What measures should be put in place to prevent data leakage?
To prevent data leakage, companies are strongly advised to implement a data protection policy (in addition to the obligations by the GDPR). Here is a non-exhaustive list of measures to adopt:
- Classify data according to their degree of confidentiality and thus distinguish sensitive data from other data. In a company, sensitive data are the personal data of employees and customers, data related to know-how, to the financial state of the company, to strategic decisions, etc.
- Encrypt sensitive information using secure passwords and restricted access.
- Train employees to manage confidential information and make them aware of the risks and threats of a data leak.
- Carry out a legal watch in order to follow the evolution of the legal and regulatory framework expected in companies in terms of data management.
- Monitor your information system and detect data exposed on unsecured databases.
- Use technical solutions to ensure data security by, for example, detecting anomalies or alerting security teams to attempted cyberattacks.
In cases where the data leak has already occurred, companies are advised to:
- Keep evidence of the attack to allow the appropriate authorities to carry out any investigations.
- React quickly in order to slow down or stop the loss of data by anticipating a crisis cell allowing the company to continue its activity.
- Call in experts to recover lost data from the deep and dark webs.
How to monitor your information system?
As the number of data breaches continues to rise, it is increasingly important for companies to monitor their information systems for exposed data. But where to start?
Semkel offers its cyber monitoring to analyze in detail the cyber risks of an organization, to detect a data leak and to remedy it. With five cyber monitoring solutions, Semkel's consultants and analysts identify exposed data and help organizations to better protect their business from cyber and reputational risks.