The Greatest Threat to Any Brand is From Within, says CEO of global information classification specialists Boldon James

In the wake of the Edward Snowden affair, security expert Martin Sugden claims that most leaks come from inside an organisation rather than perimiter breaches.

Crewe, England, July 16, 2013 -- News of highly-sensitive data leaks is rarely out of the headlines and so the need to protect an organisation's data, arguably its most valuable asset, from external threats is generally well-understood. And of course there is an abundance of technology and software to help guard against these threats.

"The idea that an individual employee could be the root cause of a major business incident which could wipe millions from market value is probably not front-of-mind for many boards and senior executives," explains Martin Sugden of global information classification specialists Boldon James. "However it is this hidden threat from within an organisation that can inflict significant damage on a brand and its value.

"What many organisations tend to forget," warns Sugden, "is that the greatest security risk to that data and their business is actually from within - the threat that is silent and increasingly undetectable."

The recent NSA leak connected with Edward Snowden is a pertinent case, but there have been several less high-profile cases - worryingly those responsible for many leaks were not senior and, in some cases, not even a full-time employee.
Of course the accidental leakage of sensitive information is not a new phenomenon; organisations have been having the same issues for decades - well before email was invented.

Usually data leakage is also completely accidental: "I once heard of a junior member of staff at an insurance firm who inadvertently faxed a customer list to a competitor." recalls Mr Sugden. "The next day she was sacked. The difference today is that we are in a digitally-connected society, but specialist technology solutions should make protecting sensitive information far easier. Even though there are simple-to-implement solutions available in the market, the reality of the situation is that it still remains a challenge to many organisations today."

So how do organisations protect their intellectual property, business value and corporate secrets from the internal risk?

Martin Sugden advises: "Firstly, they need to acknowledge and neutralise the threat 'at home' which can be achieved through improved background investigations, monitoring employees for network access anomalies and other tactics. They also need to build data classification policies to restrict access and editing rights, whilst using tools that proactively help classify and protect sensitive data. Information owners are best placed to decide the sensitivity of the information and level of risk should such information get into the wrong hands. Empowering them to classify or label their data at the point of creation can significantly help towards reducing the incident of data loss and thus protect brand or company value."

The sensitive information that has been exposed by the likes of Mr. Snowden, and others before him, highlights the need for organisations to seriously consider how they deal more effectively from the 'at home' threat. While targeted cyber-attacks are pervasive and serious, they can pale in comparison to a simple data loss incident - certainly in terms of the damage and impact on brand value.

"If a company successfully defends against the threat from within," says Sugden, "defending against a perimeter attack should be comparatively easy."

Richard McCann
Friday's PR
18 Sogo Square
London, England W1

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Company Name: Friday's PR
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Keywords : information classification, help guard, data leaks, empowering,

by Richard McCann (few years ago!)

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