Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 25 Number 2 2008 pp. 97-123

Information Risk of Inadvertent Disclosure: An Analysis of File-Sharing Risk in the Financial Supply Chain

Johnson, M Eric

ABSTRACT: Firms face many different types of information security risk. Inadvertent disclosure of sensitive business information represents one of the largest classes of recent security breaches. We examine a specific instance of this problem--inadvertent disclosures through peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. We characterize the extent of the security risk for a group of large financial institutions using a direct analysis of leaked documents. We also characterize the threat of loss by examining search patterns in peer-to-peer networks. Our analysis demonstrates both a substantial threat and vulnerability for large financial firms. We find a statistically significant link between leakage and leak sources including the firm employment base and the number of retail accounts. We also find a link between firm visibility and threat activity. Finally, we find that firms with more leaks also experience increased threat.

Key words and phrases: data breaches, file-sharing, information security, inadvertent disclosure, intellectual property leaks, peer-to-peer networks, risk management