Data breach strikes North Ireland bank

Feb 12th, 2014 / Category: Managed File Transfer

Barclays Bank announced this week that it experienced a data breach exposing the personal information of thousands of customers. While the investigation is still ongoing, this incident points to the rising danger of data theft and the high costs of failing to adequately protect sensitive information. All companies have an interest in safeguarding their documents with secure file sharing solutions, but the precautions are paramount for organizations that handle private information about clients.

Profitable scams motivate data thieves
According to The Guardian, some of the information stolen from Barclays has been sold to criminals operating "boiler-room scams," or schemes to trick people into fraudulent investments. The files taken from the bank contained sensitive information including identification data, financial data, insurance numbers and health history, The Mail reported, adding that the 27,000 files could be sold for up to $80 each.

With high payoffs for stolen sensitive information, data theft incidents are on the rise. The 2013 PwC Information Security Breaches Survey found that incidents in the U.K. were at the highest levels ever reached, with the biggest breaches costing individual organizations over $1.6 million. The Belfast Telegraph noted the rising threat of security breaches among smaller businesses as well - the PwC report indicated that 87 percent of small businesses experienced security breaches in 2013.

Breaches carry high cost and damage trust
Even small breaches can cause significant costs, making secure file sharing options a necessity for small and large organizations alike. According to Dentistry IQ, a recent data breach involving a stolen USB drive from a small dermatology practice ended up costing the firm $150,000 in a settlement with the Department of Health and Human Services for violating HIPAA regulations.

Beyond fines, data breaches can damage a business's reputation and erode trust among its consumer base. Following the Barclays announcement, Liberal Democrat MP Tessa Munt told The Guardian that incidents like these can affect the entire banking industry.

"We are learning not to trust our banks and that is a pretty sad thing," she said. "It is a culture of just make money in any way and that probably breeds a contempt among those who are bankers towards those they are meant to serve."

A spokesperson for the Financial Conduct Authority emphasized that financial organizations must ensure the appropriate measures are in place and used correctly in order to keep customers' information safe, The Guardian added.

Securing data
Information security is constantly evolving, especially as digital resources expand and cybercriminals develop new ways to acquire and use data. It's of utmost importance for organizations to maintain up-to-date security practices. For many firms, this includes a secure file sharing solution to facilitate collaboration and remote access to company documents.

These programs must be able to maintain top-notch protection for information resources while providing intuitive workflows for employees. According to the PwC report, 36 percent of the worst breaches were caused by staff error and 46 percent of organizations don't provide ongoing security training for their employees.  Providing better instruction and implementing a secure file transfer solution that is convenient for workers can help shield organizations against rising threats.