Although it is regarded as a convenient way to cut down on costs and maximize the value of service, outsourcing has major drawbacks when it comes to intellectual property or personal data safety.
This is the case with the latest breach in the Stratfor network, a Texas-based consultancy that provides military-grade services in foreign affairs and security issues to the US government. Along with other critical pieces of information, the hackers managed to seize copies of the company’s customer list and credit card information, and the identities of 221 British military officials and 242 NATO employees.
This is the third major incident involving military contractors in less than a year, after the massive attack against HBGary Federal, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which raises a warning about the state of security in mission-critical facilities and institutions. This type of attack not only exposes classified military-grade intelligence to unknown parties, but contributes to the weakening of citizens’ confidence in the institutions that are supposed to protect them.
The costs of a military breach are difficult to estimate, as military intelligence surpasses its commercial value. At the same time, the impact on civilian and military staff whose data has been exposed increases risks of identity theft, harassment, e-banking fraud or further infiltration into the organization by spear-phishing.