You’ve probably heard news about businesses or companies that have experienced a data breach. Many people don’t realize how serious this case is until it happens to their own company. In reality, a data breach can be risky for businesses and individuals alike.
What Is Data Breach?
A data breach is a security offense wherein information is accessed from a system without the system owner’s knowledge or authorization. Data containing confidential information like credit card numbers, passwords, bank accounts, trade secrets, customer data, and other national security matters are usually stolen, while other files are manipulated. (1)
Whenever this happens, the company or organization that had a security breach might suffer from reputational damage, unexpected expenses, loss of sales, and legal penalties. Whether you own a massive company or are still starting out with a small one, a data breach can tear down your organization, if not addressed on time. This is why all business owners are encouraged to consult a computer security service or a cyber security business to help them come up with cyber security solutions and protect them from potential data breaches and other security risks. (1)
Common Culprits Behind Data Breaches
Before you find ways to mitigate security threats like data breaches, it’s best to get a good understanding of the typical culprits behind data breaches. Understanding the causes will help you develop preventative measures and ensure your business and everyone in the company are safer from cyberattacks. That said, here are the five of the most common culprits behind data breaches.
1. Human Error
One of the most common causes of a data breach is human error. After all, mistakes can happen, especially if the users or the employees lack enough knowledge regarding security measures. (2) (3)
Some scenarios of human error that result in a data breach may include:
- Using weak passwords and generic credentials
- Sharing account or password information
- Sending confidential data to the wrong recipients
- Falling for phishing scams
If one of your employees makes one or more of these mistakes, it could lead to a massive data breach that could potentially destroy your company. To prevent such a situation, you can train your employees about basic data security measures and establish cyber security policies to avoid these errors. Furthermore, it’s also ideal to invest in cyber security services or network security services, especially for areas or departments that need additional cyber protection. (2) (3)
2. Old Or Outdated Software Vulnerabilities
Cybercriminals are constantly trying innovative and sophisticated ways to hack important networks. Thus, companies and organizations using outdated software or poorly designed network systems are more at risk and vulnerable to data breaches.
A basic way to reduce the risk of hacking and other forms of external attacks is to keep your hardware and software solutions up-to-date and fully patched. With the help of your IT security services, they’ll keep your network protected by advanced security solutions like Optus internet security suite and other similar options. (1) (3)
Malware refers to intrusive software created by cybercriminals to exploit and hack network systems. Malware is often associated with small-scale attacks targeting individual people and their personal computers. However, some forms of malware are designed to target entire systems, which means one of those can cause serious problems for your company. (4)
Some hackers can install malware in your systems without your consent and use it for specific reasons such as:
- Accessing, deleting, or modifying confidential information
- Distributing sensitive data like passwords, credit card numbers, financial records, and more for illegal purposes
- Hijacking your personal and company accounts
Malware can also function like a biological virus. Some forms of malware are programmed to duplicate and distribute from one computer system to another, until you have no other choice but to wipe your network system clear and start from scratch, resulting in data loss while also costing you a lot in terms of lost time and missing data. (3) (4)
To protect your company from malware, make sure everyone in the company is trained to observe cyber security policies like:
- Delete emails or messages that contain spam or corrupt messages
- Avoid clicking or downloading links that look suspicious
- Avoid opening files from unknown senders
- Be wary when opening attachments, images, or websites
It’s also recommended that all your company computers and other devices have both virus and malware protection to filter out suspicious software. (1)
4. Insider Threats
Insider threat or insider misuse refers to cyber security attacks carried out by people from within the company, usually involving abuse of the company’s systems for personal gain. Anyone in the company with authorized access could become an insider threat. (2) (3)
Catching an insider threat isn’t always easy, considering that you’ve trusted these people with your computer’s systems and confidential data. While preventing an insider threat might not be entirely possible, you can minimize the risk by limiting your employees’ access through compartmentalization of information. The fewer files they can access, the more challenging it’ll be for them to abuse the system. Most importantly, you should get to know your people well (through background and psychological checks) before automatically giving them access. (1) (3)
5. Physical Theft Of Data-Carrying Devices
Data breach can also happen if data-carrying devices (e.g., laptops, computers, mobile phones, hard drives, USBs, and more) are stolen by thieves. Once the thieves or hackers have these devices, they can easily retrieve all the data they need, especially if the devices don’t have two-step verification. (2) (3)
The data breach’s severity depends on how much confidential information was stored on the specific device. If the device is connected to the company network, chances are the perpetrators can also access the company’s systems. Thus, you need to ensure everyone stays vigilant in keeping their devices safe and secure with strong login credentials.
The Bottom Line
Understanding the causes and culprits behind data breaches will help you equip yourself better and reduce the risk of your company falling victim to cybercrime. For optimal cyber security and protection, don’t forget to consult your cyber security service regularly to help improve your detection and response to data breaches.
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- “Data Breach”, Source: https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/security/definition/data-breach
- “The Eight Most Common Causes Of Data Breaches”, Source: https://www.sutcliffeinsurance.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Information-Weeks-The-8-most-common-causes-of-data-breach.pdf
- “Data Breach 101: Top 5 Reasons It Happens”, Source: https://www.whoa.com/data-breach-101-top-5-reasons-it-happens/
- “Understanding How Hackers Use Malware To Attack You”, Source: https://snappycomputer.com/understanding-malware-how-hackers-use-your-data/