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What Is An Information Leak?

An easy-to-understand explanation of causes, reasons to be cautious, and countermeasures

Confidential and customer information leaks occur not only in some large companies but also in small and medium-sized enterprises. As we increasingly see and hear about information leaks in the news, some people in charge of companies may feel that their companies should also take measures.

Knowing why information leak accidents occur, their risks, and security measures, you can consider measures to protect your company’s information assets and trust. Let’s prepare for internal and external threats by focusing on system maintenance that takes steps against information leaks.

This article will introduce the meaning and causes of information leaks, reasons to be cautious, and countermeasures.

What Is Information Leak?

Information and information leakage are used for similar purposes, but each has a different meaning. The revision of the Personal Information Protection Act has made reporting and notification mandatory in the event of an information leak.

In addition, the damage caused by an information leakage incident can include cost losses and secondary damage, such as reputational damage.

First, let’s look at the basics of such information leaks.

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Meaning Of Information Leak

“Information leak” refers to the leakage of confidential information or customer information stored by companies, government agencies, etc., to external parties for some reason. Information leaks have various causes, including cyber attacks and human error.

A synonym for information leak is “information leak.” Information leakage mainly refers to “information leaking to a place that is beyond the organization’s control,” information leakage is an expression used especially when it is inevitable that information has been passed on to a third party.

If all leaked information can be recovered before a third party views it, it will not constitute an information leak.

Reporting and notification of information leaks become mandatory due to legal amendments.

The revised Act on the Protection of Personal Information, which took effect in April 2022, has made reporting and notification mandatory, which was previously considered an obligation to make efforts and recommendations.

If any of the following conditions apply to a personal information leakage incident, a report to the Personal Information Protection Commission and notification to the person in question are required.

・When personal information that requires special consideration is included

・When there is a risk of property damage due to unauthorized use

・When personal information is leaked for an illegal purpose

・When personal details of more than 1,000 people is leaked

Damage Caused By Information Leakage: “Cost Loss”

If an information leak occurs, companies will incur costs and damages such as the following:

・Investigation costs: Costs for investigating the cause and scale of information leak accidents

・Recurrence prevention costs: Consulting fees and advertising costs

・Equipment renewal costs: Costs for system replacement

・Damages: Litigation costs and damages

・Lost profits: Services Profits that could no longer be earned due to suspension, etc.

The total cost and damages vary greatly depending on the scale of the information leak accident. Still, it is not uncommon for damages to amount to tens or hundreds of millions of yen.

Damage Caused By Information Leakage: “Secondary Damage”

When a large-scale information leakage incident occurs, companies may voluntarily publicize the details of the incident in a press release, or the media may cover it in the news.

What tends to happen is a loss of trust from business partners and customers, as well as “flames” and reputational damage caused by spreading information on social media, etc. If the situation cannot be controlled, it may lead to secondary damage, such as customer loss or service suspension, making business continuity difficult.

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