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Effects of a Weak Economy

So with all the potential problems that can lead to data leakage, how does a repressed economy fit into the mix? A weak economy acts as a catalyst and has an amplifying effect on all the previously mentioned factors of data leakage. A weak economy is exactly the time when companies must be more vigilant in ensuring that proper controls are in place to identify and mitigate data loss.

An example will help demonstrate this point. Let's say that Company X has a sales force that is to be down sized by 10% because of the weak economy and a growing number of competitors. Bob is a member of Company X's sales force and is concerned that he will lose his position. As a salesman, Bob knows that if he is to lose his job, having the Sales database (which contains customers, product descriptions, costs, and future product releases) will provide an advantage when he finds a new position.

Bob also knows that having the database may make him more attractive to competing companies since he'll have detailed knowledge of a competitor. When put into these situations, there is little moral justification to wrestle with since Bob feels it is the company that has turned its back on him. This very simple example outlines a real threat that business must consider, especially during a weak economy. For many service-based organizations, the loss of a Sales database could have catastrophic effects.

Another effect that fosters data loss is the naïve and often knee-jerk reaction to budget issues. Unfortunately, business executives sometimes view information security as a type of insurance product that can be constricted or expanded based on economic conditions. During a weak economy, information security budgets are all too often the first department to have budget constraints.

In some cases, management teams put the IT departments in what's known as "keep the lights on" mode. When running in this state, an organization implements no new technology and performs little new development to move the organization's IT or security posture forward. This can leave an organization in a crippled condition in which they cannot deal with emerging threats or security incidents adequately.

What many business executives must understand is that information security and its budget need to be based on the type of industry a particular organization is in and the risks associated with data loss or compromise.

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