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An Information Breach That Cost a Company Over Millions of Dollars in Damages

January 16, 2020

An Italian trade company suffered an information breach in which sensitive information was leaked; some was leaked to the press and some, according to market rumors, reached the company’s top competitors, resulting in  tens of millions of dollars worth of damages. 

Following a year of searching for the source of the leak, the company decided to reach out to our agency –  Gabriel Intelligence Agency – to resolve the issue.

Uncovering the Source of the Leak

We began by mapping out the information that was leaked and cross-referencing it with a list of over 400 personnel that were employed by the company at the time, allowing us to narrow down the list of suspects to just 30 employees. Then, we created an “employee profile” based on information provided by the employer and information from the internet. This enabled us to narrow our list to only seven possible employees.

Next, we utilized open sources in order to conduct in-depth research on each one of the suspects. This included the use of sophisticated technologies and platforms paired with information analysis methods derived from the Israeli intelligence industry.

Through our research, we managed to identify connections between the suspects and the journalists who published the company’s sensitive information, as well as connections to employees (and former employees) in competing companies. This step left us with only three suspects.

In order to find concrete evidence linking the remaining suspects to the leak, we initiated contact with them (undercover) over social media.

All three suspects responded to our messages and we were able to engage in a social-business conversation that slowly and carefully navigated to discussions about purchasing internal information. At this point, only two of the suspects agreed to cooperate, while the third strongly refused.

As a final step, Gabriel’s undercover field agents met with the two who expressed an interest in leaking internal information.

During these meetings, our agents managed to get them both to admit that they had previously leaked internal information in return for money, even mentioning the type of information they had leaked, which precisely matched the information leak we were investigating.

A Means to an End

As a result of our efforts, we were able to obtain strong evidence regarding the source of the information leak. All the evidence compiled was collected legally and was therefore admissible in a court of law if necessary.

All the information gathered by our agency was handed over to the company’s management, who then summoned the two employees to hearings and executed a number of actions that we recommended to reduce the chance of a future information breach.

The information gathered and actions taken within these three months saved the company from subsequent damages of tens to hundreds of millions of dollars and helped lay a strong foundation to protect the company from potential leaks in the future.

Lesson Learned

If confidential information from your company has been compromised – time is of the essence. Containing the breach and commencing damage control in its early stages can save your company years of financial and reputational damages.

If you do not know who the source of the information breach is, reverse engineer the leak of the path in order to locate the source. This step can be accomplished with the assistance of a third party with the right tools and competencies.

Furthermore, it is important to implement information security and compliance protocols as well as file monitoring software in order to protect, detect and prevent an event of a data breach from occurring within your company.

If your information has been compromised or would like to secure your venture from encountering such an event in the future, contact us to hear more about our Data Protection & Crisis Management services.