If Boeing had used its own Cipher data loss protection software, it wouldn’t have mattered when an employee accidentally emailed his wife a spreadsheet containing the personal data of 36,000 colleagues – including their Social Security number and date of birth. Seriously, the software’s product information even states that “Boeing programmers have created a superior product that can be used to ensure that hidden information is not inadvertently included in and transmitted with a file”. Oops.
As comparatively harmless and even entertaining as this mishap is, it could cost Boeing rather dearly. Research from IBM and the Ponemon Institute suggests that the average total cost of a data breach is now around $4m. The cost per record is $158, making the Boeing spreadsheet debacle worth about $5.7m by some estimates.
Boeing has notified the Washington State attorney of the breach as required by law, but otherwise is keeping tight-lipped over the affair, perhaps because of some dignity-nursing going on.