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Data Breach: Implications and consequences

?A data breach is capable of causing irreparable disaster through an organization.
Alex Hamilton is a regular contributor to numerous news sites.
Alex Hamilton is a regular contributor to numerous news sites.

A data breach is capable of causing irreparable disaster through an organization. For instance, when the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center discover that over 571 patients were at the risk of losing their personal/vital data such as sex, age, specific medical result, etc. after an auditor’s laptop was stolen, it left a blow at the hospital. The California hospital took drastic measures to compensate the 571 people who panic that their personal information was in the hands of criminals.

Research by Seareach suggests that 25% of employees have lost important assets relating to their job, the most common items lost or stolen being:

  • Mobile phones – 36%. The cost to replace £550
  • Memory sticks – 23%. The cost to replace £8.50
  • Tablets – 19%. The cost to replace £429
  • Laptops – 14%. The cost to replace £249
  • Power packs or chargers – 8%. The cost to replace £15

Implications of losing assets and data in an organization

Losing a vital company asset such as a laptop or an iPad might lead to loss of vital data indefinitely or to the wrong hands, the implications, however, are drastic, and if proper steps are not taken, the company might never recover from the blow. Below are the implications of losing vital data or asset;

  • Loss of intellectual property; when an intruder breaches the network, server, or storage defenses of a company, he usually has one of three goals: to look at the information he shouldn’t look at, to deny the company the use of its data, or to damage and destroy data. Because the harm is intentional, an intruder can do more selective damage aimed at long-term harm. Almost all businesses store their data solely on digital devices, which are often carried around by mobile workers. The implication then is, if such devices get lost or stolen, vital information about the past or future projects could be lost.
  • Disruption to daily business; no matter how well you back up, the loss of asset or data sa major setback for any company. According to a Seareach. Plc research, dealing with data breach and loss might take up to 13 to 14 days to rectify which equates to a financial hit of let’s say 3000 -10000 euros.
  • Legal implications; if a company or organization loses a sensitive asset/data containing personal information of either customer, HR related or financial records, you’re are in breach of principle 7 of the Data Protection Act. The individuals may sue you for damages.
  • Probable Reputational Risk; when Coca-Cola HR department discovered in late 2013 that the personal information of some 74,000 former employees was compromised when a former employee entrusted with the task of recycling old laptops stole them instead, the incident caused widespread reputational damage and gained a lot of unwarranted press coverage. Things became more critical when data protection experts Clearswift questioned the absence of Data Loss Protection (DLP) policies and software, which could have ensured that sensitive information could not be removed from the devices. Coca-cola eventually averted that catastrophe, but the reputational damage still echoes till this day.
  • The stress of rebuilding; when an asset is lost, even the simplest organisational structure finds it tedious going through the rebuilding process all over again. It is often an upsetting and confusing experience, and no matter how hard you try, most times you can never retrieve all lost information again.

Asset tagging and protection are vital for the safety of information within assets being lost. Speaking about this, Stuart Jailer at Seareach commented:

“Data is a valuable resource for a business that is facing more stringent regulations for protecting itself, so although it might be simple to replace a lost or stolen laptop, we can see the consequences are further reaching. Ensuring your devices are regularly backed up, have anti-theft features enabled, and are properly encrypted will help reduce the loss of data and protect confidential information stored on them.

“We also advise asset tracking for portable equipment such as laptops and tablets, mobile phones and memory sticks, which will help track and trace items if they are lost or stolen and make claims easier to process. Asset labels help with stock control and whether items need or are due to be replaced. They can also prevent people from tampering with components and deter theft. For many businesses, data is their biggest asset and protecting their technology will help to keep it safe.”

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