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Mossack, Fonseca and Co: How did the Hackers Leaked information?

The data breach of 11 million classified digital data files, approximately 2.6 TB of data, at the Panamanian legal firm Mossack, Fonseca and Co has shaken the world to its core. A number of data analysts and media experts have credited the data leak to whistle-blowers who wish to remain anonymous. Some others claim that the documents were stolen through a cyber-attack by cyber criminals.


Image: Pixabay

If the data breach was through whistle-blowers, like in the case of the Snowden incident, the Manning data breach, and going back to 1971-the Pentagon papers data breach, this recent incident once more emphasises the domination of insiders as fundamental origins of data attacks on organisations’ vital and classified information sets. Across the world, almost every company spends substantial amounts of money to firewall their infrastructure against attack from cyber terrorists or hackers. But most of the time they have to confront the duality of efficaciously avoiding disclosure of information by the very workers who are required to employ the information for their daily tasks.



Most of the time, organisations are inadequately equipped with strategies to ensure that data is protected from insider threats. Such organisations are specifically defenceless against employees who have the means to access vital data and break the trust of their company by disseminating the information externally through surreptitious methods with media companies or selling it to trade rivals. These data damages can greatly hamper an organisation’s productivity and repute.

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In the case of the Panama papers leak, the first question that arose in the minds of many was how such a colossal amount of information got breached. As compared to previous data infringements, the Panama papers leak was vastly large information. The recipients of the data, namely journalists, took more than a year to analyse and examine it. In terms of computing terminology, 2.6 TB of data is not very big. That much amount of data can be hived away in any external hard drive or standard storage device available in the market. Hence, 2.6 TB of data could easily be copied on a couple of external hard drives or USB drives and mailed to journalists.


When data is shared anonymously, it cannot be traced back to the hackers or the whistle-blowers. Peer-to-peer technologies that run on a shared network of computers across the globe helps and enables users to create unidentified enciphered channels of communication with either the helpers or receivers of data. Unfortunately the browsing history location of such networks cannot be determined by enforcement agencies as users can eliminate all records from their computing terminals or can keep communications hidden.

In order to detect and prevent such data leaks, computing systems in organisations need to be configured in a manner that can avoid classified data from being copied, moved or printed. In some cases, organisations provide data access to employees to copy and store them on their personal devices; by controlling who has access to that information, insider leak can be greatly diminished. Systems can also be configured in a manner that can disable network connections when working with sensitive data files containing confidential information and prevent them from being shared online.

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Author Bio: Carol is professional blogger in the technology field. She is working with Locklizard, a reputed Digital Rights Management solution provider. They provide DRM security software. Visit their website www.locklizard.com for required details.

About sujoydhar

Sujoy Dhar is a business and technology and blogger. He is driven by the need to be creative and says that writing for various web properties allows him to stay up to date on one of the most rapidly evolving industries around. Each day provides Dhar with a new opportunity to educate readers about tech news and advances that help change the world for the better.

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