Financial Firms Face Data Security Risks with Untouched Files in Collaborative Apps

By Greg Tavarez, TMCnet Editor  |  April 19, 2024

Tax fraud fueled by identity theft is a scary thought. Sadly, it is skyrocketing in the U.S. In just one year, the government identified over a million tax returns suspected of using stolen personal information to claim fraudulent refunds. This number, reported by the Department of Treasury, translates to a potential loss of over $6.3 billion in taxpayer money.

But that’s not all. The National Taxpayer Advocate's annual report revealed that the Identity Theft Victim Assistance program saw a caseload increase of over 200,000 individuals in just two years. In 2019, they handled only 92,631 cases, but by 2023, that number had ballooned to 294,138.

The fact is criminals are targeting the tax system, and they use stolen identities to steal refunds. This not only harms individual taxpayers who have to fight to reclaim their stolen money, but also drains billions from government coffers that could be used for public services.

The question, though, is "How is this data being leaked out so easily?"

This is where Metomic steps in.

As a next generation security solution focused on cloud-based applications, Metomic gives security teams clear visibility into their organization’s SaaS (News - Alert) network to manage sensitive data and detect security threats, which allows businesses to take full advantage of their SaaS application network.

Metomic is aware that financial services companies face a hidden data security threat: a massive buildup of untouched sensitive documents within collaborative work applications like Google (News - Alert) Drive and Slack.

According to a report by Metomic, a good portion of sensitive files stored in these collaborative platforms remain stagnant for extended periods. In fact, 86% of the files hadn't been updated in three months, 70% in over a year, and nearly half hadn't been touched in more than two years.

This lack of data hygiene, Metomic argues, creates security vulnerabilities, especially for financial institutions that handle large amounts of sensitive personal information. Stale data becomes a prime target for cybercriminals who seek to exploit identity theft and orchestrate data breaches. The risk is only heightened during tax season when financial data exchange is at its peak.

“The amount of extremely vulnerable personal data lurking in publicly accessible documents is extraordinary, and an abundance of it exists in an abyss of forgotten digital documents that are creating ongoing data security threats,” said Rich Vibert, CEO and co-founder, Metomic. “Businesses enable unnecessary data security risks by allowing colossal amounts of outdated, stale files to take up space across their cloud-based apps.”

Therefore, there is a need for stricter data management practices within collaborative work environments. Financial institutions, in particular, should prioritize data governance strategies to ensure proper classification, access control and timely deletion of sensitive information.

“It’s imperative that IT and security teams have a data security platform like Metomic in place to gain full visibility into collaborative work apps like Google Docs and Slack so they can better manage those files, and delete any data that poses a security risk,” said Vibert. “Metomic gives these organizations the tools they need to keep their cloud-based work apps safe, while also empowering them to reduce the amount of data being saved.”

Read the full report here.

Edited by Alex Passett
Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox. [Free eNews Subscription]