Data leakage is a serious threat to any organization. It exposes the company not only to a loss of reputation, but above all to huge financial losses and legal consequences. As the number of data breaches increases with the development of technology, preventing information leakage is now an urgent need for enterprise security. The more so that, the weakest link often turns out to be people and the mistakes they make. How to protect yourself against such threats in the cyber world? Why is employee development and cybersecurity training a must-have element in your company’s training strategy today? Let’s answer that!
Data Leakage – What is it and what is it about?
A data leak occurs when sensitive company data is exposed to the public, e.g. physically, digitally on the Internet, or through the loss or theft of company equipment (e.g. laptops, storage media). The situation may occur not only as a result of cybercriminal attacks, but also due to poor security of the company network and negligence on the part of the employees themselves.
As a result of information leaks, personal details, telephone numbers, bank account and credit card numbers, and even secret company data, i.e. financial or commercial information, are most often revealed. The damage to organizations of this type, regardless of size or industry, can be serious. A tarnished reputation, declining revenues, hefty financial penalties and lawsuits are what every company undoubtedly wants to defend against.
Unfortunately, leaks of personal data and other confidential data affect an increasing number of companies and government institutions around the world. According to the Cisco report, as many as 62% of company representatives claim that in 2021-2022 their organization experienced a network security incident.
In Poland, data leakage continues to be faced by e.g. large companies from the banking, medical or energy sectors, as well as mobile operators, universities and even government institutions.
Reasons for a data leak in the enterprise
What causes data leaks in the company? There are several reasons for this situation in the organization. Here are the most important of them.
Errors in the configuration of the internal infrastructure
Company infrastructure, if not state-of-the-art, may contain many technical flaws. These are system „weaknesses” that result from internal software errors or bad configuration on the part of the user. Wrong settings sometimes seem like a trifle, but they can very easily expose the organization to uncontrolled data leakage.
Data leaks and breaches are often the result of cyberattacks, which can take many forms. One of the greatest threats to companies are social engineering attacks, in particular phishing. Its purpose is to manipulate or scare the employee in order to extort necessary confidential information from him. Hackers use various communication channels here, such as phone calls, e-mails, text messages, messages in social media messengers, and even fake websites. As a result, they can easily intercept e.g. bank account numbers, which exposes the organization to financial losses.
Insufficiently strong passwords
Internet users, including company employees, tend to use one password for many accounts, which makes it easier to remember. In many cases, a hacker breaking one password leads to access to many other digital products. Even something as trivial as saving login details in a company notebook can lead to, for example, a leak of customer data and more.
Unfortunately, inadequate password security practices can cause critical situations for businesses. If customer data is stolen, it can be sold, for example, on the Darknet, i.e. the dark side of the Internet, where illegal products are traded, avoiding, for example, tax obligations.
Malware and application vulnerabilities
Clever cybercriminals are always looking for outdated and vulnerable applications that will make it easy for them to hack. They also often use malicious software, referred to as malware, which infect devices and can lead to regular data leakage.
Most often, malicious malware enters the computer through the fault of the user who visited a dangerous website, clicked on a suspicious link and unknowingly installed a file from an untrusted source.
Inadequately secured devices
A potential breach of company security is also theft or loss of laptops or phones by employees. The loss of company equipment can give a competitor employee or criminal access to personal information, trade secrets or corporate intellectual property. And data loss is much more severe for most companies than a lost or stolen computer.
Lack of knowledge among employees
According to the Cybersecurity in numbers study by G DATA CyberDefense, Statista and brand eins, only every second employee knows what to do in the event of an incident related to a threat to the security of IT resources. Lack of education means that employees may unknowingly store data in a dangerous location, accidentally share private information or become victims of a social engineering attack that will result in a data leak.
What does this mean for the organization? First of all, loss of reputation, legal consequences, high costs of data recovery and incident investigation, and even loss of customers and business continuity.
Data leakage in the company – how to prevent it?
To prevent leakage of personal and other sensitive data, companies must adopt internal security policies. An appropriate data protection strategy not only ensures compliance with legal regulations, e.g. GDPR, but also allows for efficient response to dangerous incidents.
Perform a security audit
Organizations should constantly verify that the company has the necessary safeguards and adheres to data protection principles. IT security audits are helpful here. They consist in a thorough assessment of the security status of the network infrastructure and servers, as well as the degree of compliance with the company’s security policy by employees. If the audit reveals weaknesses, it is necessary to fix them.
Educate employees on cybersecurity
According to ComCERT data from the Asseco Group, the number of cyberattacks in 2022 increased by 25% on average compared to 2021. This means that there are more and more incidents.
Cybersecurity training is a great solution to increase employee awareness of the types of threats that can cause a data leak. Convenient e-learning courses are great primarily for educating non-technical employees. In this way, people with a low level of knowledge can learn about good data privacy practices and minimize data loss.
More extensive training programs may also include simulated phishing tests. Simulating a cyberattack on behalf of the company is an activity that can verify the knowledge of employees in practice.
Simplify data access management
Each employee in the company should only have access to the data they need to perform their daily work. Therefore, it is extremely important in the organization to organize the processes related to access to individual systems.
Example? In many enterprises, employees change dynamically and sometimes several people use one login and password for a given application. To prevent unwanted data leaks, clear rules for granting permissions to resources in the company are necessary.
Introduce a strong password policy that will make data leakage more difficult
Every organization has a lot of passwords to remember. It happens that a large part of them is not strong enough. This is why every company should have a password manager that stores all login details on one platform. The tool also suggests complex password combinations for each new login and prevents the use of already exploited passwords.
Use two-factor authentication (2FA)
Constant education of the team helps to reduce the number of cybercrimes in companies. However, everyday good practices are also important. Therefore, it is important that employees in the organization use two-factor authentication, or 2FA, on a daily basis.
Two-step authentication consists in additional user verification, e.g. by entering a code generated by the mobile application. This action is an additional obstacle for cybercriminals.
Tailor-made cybersecurity training for companies
According to Trend Micro’s 2022 report, 84% of surveyed business representatives have experienced several attacks by hackers. Cybercrime is currently one of the greatest threats to organizations. Don’t want confidential trade secrets and personal information leaked online? Train your employees on the fundamental principles of online security thanks to online cybersecurity training.
Do you manage a large team, in which a large part are non-technical employees? Bet on convenient, tailor-made Security Awareness e-learning trainings, contact our experts and check how to quickly and efficiently increase the awareness of your team of cyber threats.