Any enterprise that collects data from its customers potentially runs a risk of accidentally leaking the data. When many such databases contain sensitive or highly private information, it becomes a top priority for responsible organizations to protect the data as effectively as possible, or face consequences as a result, including legal action.
Data Leakage in the Early 21st Century
Privacy protection came under the spotlight in the early years of the 21st century, when several companies accidentally (or in some cases, purposefully) leaked sensitive data about their clients to third parties without prior permission. In particular, the data broker ChoicePoint, a company which released confidential data of some 35,000 US citizens to criminal organizations, caused privacy protection laws to be reviewed in earnest.
Data Leakage and the Law
Current laws relating to data leakage are somewhat ambiguous to say the least, and very much dependent upon the individual situation. However, if your organization is recognized as having acted in a somehow negligent manner in terms of protecting data, then you are liable to be ordered to reimburse your clients for any inconvenience or distress caused as a result.
As such, it’s important to ensure that your business takes all necessary steps to make sure that all data is kept as safe and secure as possible and that data leakage risks are minimized.
Protecting Sensitive or Confidential Data
Monitor business partners. A significant number of data leakage incidences occur from situations where data is shared with a ‘trusted’ third party, such as a business partner. At the least, secure a signed non-disclosure agreement, and even better, run some checks on any companies that you may want to outsource business to, before trusting them.
Make sure your staff are aware of security procedures. It’s important to make sure that your staff are familiar with all security procedures and also familiar with the consequences of leaking data, to avoid any issues with staff negligence.
Avoid integrating all data. It’s tempting to merge all data into one system, but this is a highly risky maneuver, and best avoided if at all possible. Storing all data in one area makes it far easier for a security breach to take place and for the data leakage to be extensive and wide-spread, rather than minimized.
Undertake some risk management. If in doubt as to how secure your collated data is, don’t wait until it’s too late. Take action and hire a professional to conduct a risk assessment of your current system. Likewise, once you’ve received professional guidance on how best to protect your data, don’t ignore the information; act on it and avoid problems further down the line.
Invest in a Server that Protects Data Effectively
Finally, it makes excellent sense to invest in a virtual identity server, which will limit the amount of data returned upon an application, thus minimizing the amount of data spread throughout the environment. Good news for your data, as it ensures that the confidential information is only ever retrieved when specifically required, rather than passed around the organization freely.