Data Leakage, A Series Of Unfortunate Events


Your company strives to provide excellent products and services, and you do everything in your power to provide a fantastic customer experience from start to finish and beyond. Business owners like you understand that building trust with customers and clients takes time, but it pays off when one time customers become repeated ones, and may even recruit new clients for you if they believe in your company wholeheartedly.

One alarmingly common way to break down much of the trust you have spent years building among your customer base is by enduring a data leak that can not only compromise your company's data but also your clients' privacy as well. Learn more about how data leaks in companies occur, what happens as they progress, and how your company can build up its security to prevent them from happening on your watch.

In the Days Leading up to a Data Leak

Company A has had a fantastic year this year, largely thanks to successful new product launches and an exponential growth in the number of clients it serves. Company A and its founder, Ed, were even featured in a major startup magazine, which gave it more exposure than Ed had ever dreamed of. Although growth is usually the main goal for any company, Company A's newfound exposure led more people to its website, including hackers that look for vulnerabilities. 

Company A had taken some security measures, and employees worked on computers with software that scanned for potential security issues and regularly made suggestions for improving privacy. It felt like enough, and almost overkill to some employees, but it ended up not providing enough barriers for entry by hackers. Despite these efforts to maintain a tight ship of security, it was clear to hackers that Company A could be infiltrated quite easily.

During the Data Leak

One of Ed's employees sent an email with sensitive information to another employee, which was easily obtained and read by a hacker, granting them access to several gigabytes worth of company data. This included employee and customer credit card transactions, birthdays, email addresses, and passwords. This put both customers and employees in a vulnerable position, as these identifiers can be used to access online accounts and unlock even more personal information.

Hackers often take this information and sell it to other criminals online, allowing them to take over online accounts, make purchases, send money to others, and even steal someone's identity. Any type of data leak is serious and should not be taken lightly.

After the Leak Was Noticed

The hack went unnoticed for a few days until it was discovered by an employee and brought to the attention of the IT department and Ed himself. The company's first course of action was to perform an internal investigation in order to survey how much damage was caused by the hack. They determined the cause was a lack of email security, and this allowed them to take some preventative measures to avert the hack from spreading and getting even worse.

The IT manager took a record of the systems and services that were affected, which accounts became compromised, and the degree of damage done to the company overall. From there, Company A reported the breach to state law enforcement to determine the next legal steps and sent an email to customers notifying them that their accounts may be affected.

In the Days After the Leak

Although it was tempting for Company A to try to sweep the problem under the rug to avoid negative press, Ed knew it was better to be upfront with customers and communicate with those that may have been affected. He instructed his communications manager to send out a notification that outlined the issue Company A experienced and how the staff was doing everything it could to keep their information safe. It also encourages recipients to change their passwords and keep an eye out for suspicious activity on their accounts before outlining future plans to prevent attacks like this in the future.

Ed knew being upfront would probably result in lost trust among some customers with Company A, but he also knew that it was better to be the one to inform customers about problems instead of having them hear about them on the news and wonder why they weren't informed by the company.

Ed was fortunate that the data leak within Company A was not considered a violation of any compliance standards, like those set by HIPAA for healthcare or those by FINRA for the financial sector. The company's data leak could have gone from bad to worse if the leak was considered a violation of compliance standards, as that could have resulted in hefty fines, regulatory investigations, and even costly lawsuits.

Enlisting the Help of a Qualified Security Agency

After the data leakage, Ed prioritized security throughout his company and made it a mission to prevent future data leaks. He contacted a security agency that specializes in company email security, and their experts helped Company A set up a more secure email network without disrupting workflow or completely changing the software his employees had become accused to.

Ed found it was worth the small investment of time and effort to enlist the help of security experts to help keep company emails safe from prying eyes, as it gave him peace of mind and ensured that his company was adhering to privacy standards without much more work on his or his employees' part.

Ready to Enhance Your Company's Email Security?

Many companies either don't realize the threat email security can pose to their brand and their customers' privacy, or they decide to risk it in hopes of saving a few dollars or because it seems too overwhelming to increase security measures. Fortunately, Zix makes it easy to keep your company's emails secure by offering a layered security approach. Zix filters emails for malware and phishing, prevents data loss with customized email filters for privacy standard compliance, and has a Microsoft 365 security audit to detect, protect, and respond to email-borne threats.

If you'd like to learn more about how Zix breaks the cyber threat cycle, visit us here to learn more and schedule a security review call or request a demo with one of our experts!