Headlines about WikiLeaks have died down in recent weeks. But the challenges public and private organizations face because of it will be major, according to the CEO of one security intelligence firm. Compliance efforts have already become more complicated in the aftermath. Then there are copycats who will inevitably try to build on what WikiLeaks started.
"WikiLeaks added a broad range of data types you now have to worry about with regards to compliance," SenSage CEO Joe Gottlieb said as he clutched a cup of Starbucks during a face-to-face meeting with a CSO reporter Tuesday morning. "Now we have to protect all our inside chatter, beyond the e-mail monitoring that we've been used to."
Gottlieb acknowledged that this isn't an entirely new situation. Pharmaceutical companies, for example, have long been terrified of the prospect of intellectual property leaking to the public or a competing company. Wikileaks simply put the problem into sharper focus for a wider range of industries.
Meanwhile, he said, other entities are no doubt watching the WikiLeaks drama and looking for copycat opportunities.
"A very secondary market for leaked information could emerge from WikiLeaks," he said. "It gets more people thinking about how more intellectual property can be moved to eager consumers. It all comes down to where the money can be made."
More about Wikileaks
- A Wikileaks timeline
- 12/8/2010: MasterCard, PayPal see Wikileaks revenge attacks
- 12/7/2010: Assange arrested in London
- 12/3/2010: Wikileaks downed by DDoS attack
He's definitely getting an earful from concerned clients about these challenges, especially those in the government sector. SenSage's customers include defense and intelligence agencies in the U.S. and elsewhere, and such agencies as the U.S. Census, Department of Treasury and Veterans Affairs.
"They're increasingly concerned about the fallout from WikiLeaks," he said.
The best thing organizations can do is monitor internal communications and data collection carefully.
"If you look at what precipitates a Wikileaks breach -- if you want to call it that -- is that a determined person downloads as much data as possible onto portable devices. One customer has us looking at all user accounts for download activity and large batches of content being assembled," Gottlieb said.
"WikiLeaks as a phenomenon won't stop, just like the more conventional data breaches, because the people behind them are too diligent and motivated," he added. "Monitoring is an important countermeasure."