What is Data Leakage: An Informative Guide For 2021


Data leakage is when sensitive data is accidentally exposed on the Internet or any other form including hard drives, laptops, or other similar devices. They can also occur via the web, email, mobile storage devices. Low and slow data theft is a huge problem for data security, and the damage caused to anyone can be serious. Everyone will try to protect themselves from this threat which can cause declining revenue, tarnishing goodwill, massive penalties or crippling lawsuits, loss of confidential data, passwords. This means that confidential data, trade secrets, customer and personal data, and anything else stored on information systems could be exposed or used as part of corporate spying or terrorism as well.

In this article let us look at:

  1. Types of Data Leakage
  2. Ways of data leakage
  3. Data Leakage Prevention

1. Types of Data Leakage

There are various kinds of data leakage, and they can be initiated by an internal or an external source. Some of them are explained as under:

1) The Accidental Breach

This data leakage is unintentional and can happen to anyone in the organization. It occurs by chance and not by the known target.

For example, An employee may by mistake send an email to a different receipt which can lead to loss of confidential data to the recipient not so authorized to receive the same and can also result in reputational damage.

2) Data exfiltration

As opposed to the earlier accidental loss of data, this type of data leakage is very much intentional. This is a form of security leakage where the data is copied, transferred or retrieved from a device or software without authorization.

For example, An employee may a transfer company’s data to an external party for monetary gains.

3) Electronic Communications with Malicious Intent

An employee may have access to file transfer with external sources by a fraudulent business email account for sensitive information believing it to be genuine. Phishing attacks are also caused by clicking on some web page links which may contain malicious code that may allow the attacker to access desktop or network.

2. Ways of data leakage

Data leakage can happen in several ways. They are as follows:

1) Fraud relating to Credit Card

Leakage of credit card data may result in the exploitation of sensitive security which hampers the banking credential security.

2) Sales through Black Market:

The data which is lost can result in an auction on the net. Numerous cybercriminals are masters in searching information systems and databases which contain data like credit card number, personal and corporate information and government identification proof to sell.

3) Extortion

Selling off the organization’s data for a ransom leads to extortion. This is done for causing reputational damage.

4) Degrading competitive advantage

Competitors are always keen on having the trade secrets of their competitors. Access to resources gives them a piece of inside information, and they can use it to their advantage. This includes the marketing team working on some complex logistic operations.            

3. Data Leakage Prevention

Since data leakage can be seen globally, and on a large scale, it becomes of utmost importance to find ways and solutions to prevent such loss. Some of them are mentioned below:

1) Cloud Storage Validation

The quantity of information that is passing through online cloud storage is increasing drastically, and hence confidential information can be sensitive for exposure. Thus cloud storage must be authenticated. Constant validation reduces the chances of cybersecurity risk and can even intimate one if unauthorized access occurs at any point in time.

2) Defining a security policy

IT Departments should be responsible for evaluating, analysing and updating corporate policies dynamically. This can be done by developing guidelines and policies that all employees should follow. This may include enforcing simple precautions like avoiding leaving devices logged on when going away from the desk and not sharing sensitive information with anyone who is not authorized. Such activities pose a high danger of data loss by a worker or data theft by cybercriminals because they are often not monitored. 

3) Update with the best technology 

Having the right technology infrastructure is a sensible decision for protecting the data. Work towards a layered approach to protect against security threats, monitor and identify security risks, and respond to security threats and situations mindfully. Solutions that protect emails and documents and allow secure collaboration anytime, anywhere, and to anyone, virtually any device should be adopted.

4) Keep credentials secure   

It is a good practice to keep different passwords for personal and office use and keep updating them. Also, any sort of repetition in the pattern should be avoided so that hackers don’t recognize the pattern.


Data leakage is a serious concern as it leads to the loss of confidential, sensitive data. This can have an impact on revamping the whole cyber functioning of the organization. Extreme care concerning the prevention of data should be done at all levels by proper authentication and controls. Any suspicion should be gravely taken into consideration.

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give you an edge in this competitive world.


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