Security Assessment > Sensitive Information    

is it true that you hold no sensitive information electronically?

You aren't alone in your thinking. According to a UK government-sponsored survey¹, in 2004 24% of the 1000 UK businesses surveyed thought that they did not possess any information which they would consider to be critical to their business or sensitive in nature. Even 5% of businesses with over 500 employees believed this to be the case.

Can this belief be true? Almost certainly not. Think of a simple example that applies to just about every business of any size.

Payroll.

Very few organisations are comfortable about open disclosure of payroll details even internally to their own staff. Just think of how sensitive that information could be if it fell into the hands of your competitor.

Payroll is a key indicator of the health of your business. It says how big you are. It says whether you are growing or shrinking, and by how much. It says how profitable you are. How much easier would it be for a competitor to bid against you if they knew what your wage costs were? Or to poach key staff from you if they knew what salaries and benefits you offered?

Payroll is the sort of information that you really don't want disclosed. How much worse would it be if someone deliberated modified it?

There are lots of other examples that touch all aspects of your business.

Think of the Internet as an all-pervasive example. A web presence is essential in today's e-aware business environment. Having your website hacked and vandalised might be only a minor inconvenience to your business operations. But what damage will it do to those other intangibles, your brand and your image, that you will have invested a lot of time and money in? Think of the impact it would have on your ability to convince your clients that their business or information is safe in your hands.

One final point to bear in mind. Business advantage is about "relatives". If you secure your business and your competitor doesn't, you have reduced your risk relative to theirs. In the event that the worst happens to both of you, you have the better chance of minimising disruption to your business.

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(¹ Information Security Breaches Survey 2004 )

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