Type of weak signal: future threat
Relevance in the future: In the future it can be expected, that even larger and more important datasets are leaked occasionally. Large credit card datasets, with data about more than 40 Mio credit card owner, have already been leaked. The general public will probably get access to secret governmental information, for a while and then it will probably get more and more difficult to judge, whether the leaked or lost information is real. The public administration will get detailed information from industries and industries will get private information from their customers. Pressure groups, like anonymous will take advantage from the public awareness of data misuse.
Motives: In line with the increasing digitalization of .text-, sound-, picture-, and video data, there will be more and more data repositories with very large amounts of private and secret data in the future. In the last years, the trend in data loss events points to the fact that data sets can get lost, even if they are very large and well protected. In line, with outsourcing efforts and cloud services, it can be expected that the number of data leak and – loss events increase with the number of valuable data sets.
An additional risk is that leaked or lost information is not destroyed and enters in some ways enter the black market (lost notebooks, lost usb sticks etc.), where it often gets combined with already existing other datasets. That points to a trend of commercializing which is expected to be one of the most important motives in the future in dealing with data sets. Specific for leaked datasets, political and intrinsic motivation might be even more important.
Methods: Most data loss events are accidental and not intentional. Thus no specific method applies. However for leaked information and black markets with high value data sets this is different. In this case, cloud computing attacks, bot-nets, phishing or pharming contribute to additional procurement of valuable information. Leaked information in particular is exchanged in anonymous encrypted networks, like free net or tor. Whistleblower platforms, like Wiki leaks are used to initially make leaks very comfortable and secure. In black markets, like silk road, is often an incentive to improve available datasets with intentional acquisition of new corresponding data sets, to increase the economic rewards.
Impact: In the long run, breaks of data secrecy will lead to a lost of trust in governmental ICT infrastructure, for the one, who are working with this. On the other hand, open information and transparency can increase trust, if the leaked information are concise to the open public information. For ICT services, data lost and data leaks events can lead to damages of critical infrastructure, but reacting on this can lead to a more resilient ICT infrastructure. These ambivalent impacts shows, that the overall consequences depends probably much on future strategic decision and behavior of the data owner.
Background: In the last years, a number of whistle blowing platforms (e.g. wikileaks, openleaks) and peer to peer networks (freenet, I2P, RShare/ StealthNet, MUTE, BitTorrent) where set up, to support anonymous data leaks and secure exchange of all sorts of data, often from illegal sources. Besides copy right infringements on peer to peer networks, there is an increasing probability of having large illegal datasets, shared on anonymous peer to peer networks and traded on the black markets, like silk road.