What do we usually imagine when we hear about data leakage or data breaches? What typically comes to mind is a person sitting in a darkened attic or a basement, staring at a computer, trying again and again to hack a company’s data.
But that is not always the case. Most of the times, data breaches are internal and are done by a company’s own employees. Now everyone knows what happens if employees are leaking precious, confidential data.
Consequences of Leaked Data
Sensitive data is among the company’s vital assets. Whether it is customer data, vendor data, trade secrets, or future plans, it means a lot to a company and its future in the industry. Data leaks, however big or small, can not only affect the company’s profit margin, but also drastically reduce its customers’ confidence in the company. This can result in the company losing all or most of its hard earned customers. It can also mean a huge penalty for the organization.
Maintaining Legal Compliance
All employees of a company are legally bound to keep their employer’s confidential data safe and secure. Even if there is no such thing written or mentioned in the employee’s contractual documentation, it is still a very big part of the employee’s job. Nowadays, most companies have clauses in their contractual documents so that the employee has no ambiguity about their role in the company.
You should also make sure that you have added confidentiality clauses that include post-termination practices. Usually after termination, an employee is legally bound not to share any confidential data, but post-termination, there is a lot of sensitive data that an employee can share without being responsible for it.
How Are My Employees Leaking Data?
Data leaks can be from various methods, for example, a staff member could be intentionally leaking your data or doing it through careless behavior. Employees could be leaking a company’s data through a variety of methods like careless talks, emails, sending the wrong files to the wrong people, using unauthorized file transfer applications, among others. To decrease the likelihood of leakage of confidential data, your employees need to be properly trained in handling data. Also they need to know just what “Confidential Data” actually means. Maybe your employees don’t consider your confidential data to be confidential and they are sharing it without giving it a second thought.
Monitoring email accounts and internet usage can greatly help identify the origins of the leaks. In order not to breach any privacy rights, employees need to be told about the surveillance and how it will be taking place in advance. The business can also consider encouraging internal reporting by introducing a confidential reporting line wherever it thinks that data might be leaking.
How to Plug Data Leaks
Wherever a business identifies a data leak, usually through errors in emails like attaching the wrong document or sending an email to the wrong recipient, employers should look into how this problem can be addressed. They might find that employees are not paying the proper attention while working, or they might not know what they’re doing wrong. In cases like these, employees could be trained on email software systems and their etiquettes or a reminder could be sent about the importance of sending emails securely.
If it is found that an employee is intentionally leaking data for personal gains, it should be immediately dealt with according to company policy as well as state rules and regulations.
Also make sure that you have the latest verification and authentication processes in place so that document confidentiality can be maintained and a document meant for one person cannot be accessed by anyone else.