Data Breach

What Is A Data Breach?

A data breach is one of the worst things that can happen to a business. Compromising the data of millions of users can land a business is some serious trouble – it can even turn out to be the last mistake ever. Hackers are always on the lookout for vulnerabilities that can give them access to critical systems. As a business, you need to learn what is a data breach and how to prevent it.

Take a look at this blog to see why security is fundamental for business operations.

What Is A Data Breach?

A data breach is defined as an intrusion into a system for stealing private information. Your personal information or business information is the best-kept secret. Only you or the people you authorize can gain access to that information. A data breach seeks to steal that information by leveraging a vulnerability.

For example, if your business’s data is stored on a server, hackers will attempt to gain unauthorized access by leveraging a critical flaw in the security or through social engineering.

As much as technical details of data security matter and how important it is to keep everything up to date, it’s equally important to educate the people using those systems. Your employees are a vulnerability hackers can exploit through social engineering as a business.

It’s crucial for security that employees are trained to recognize threats and limit access to data to only certain individuals.

How Does A Data Breach Occur?

A data breach occurs due to a lapse in security to protect digital systems from such attacks. Hackers exploit vulnerabilities in systems to gain access to internal networks then steal data. Often, a data breach is a result of malware distributed through social engineering or infected devices that employees connect to their workstations.

Here are some of the ways a data breach can occur:

  • Social Engineering

Access to data should be limited to people who need it. That’s the realization you will have in the event of a data breach through a social engineering attack.

Social engineering is a technique to draw personal information by exploiting human error. Phishing is one of the social engineering techniques designed for this purpose. It targets users through impersonation and usually by creating a sense of urgency. An employee could receive an employee from a senior employee asking for details on a particular project. Since the name appears legit in the email address, the employee sends over the private information without double-checking the email address.

  • Malware

Malware is a term to describe malicious software such as ransomware that can have devastating effects on a business. The malware encrypts data on the system then demands a ransom for the decryption keys.

Ransomware attacks have risen exponentially in the last five years. From hospitals law enforcement agencies to businesses, every type of sector has been hit by hackers.

Malware distribution also ties in with social engineering. A phishing email could ask an employee to download an attachment. Once it infects the employee’s system, it can spread through the network or install a backdoor on the infected computer.

  • Exploiting Vulnerabilities

Hardware and the software that runs on it can both be vulnerable to an attack. The network could expose a weakness that allows unauthorized access without detection.

Reconnaissance is a big part of a successful cyberattack. Whether it’s for social engineering or for detecting weakness in the network, hackers gather as much information about the target before they draft an attack plan. At times, both social engineering and technical vulnerabilities go hand in hand. A hacker would deliver an exploit through social engineering.

But detecting vulnerabilities doesn’t have to be complex; it could be a weak password that can be brute-forced easily.

  • Stolen or Unattended Devices

As an employee, you may have a habit of leaving your computer unlocked while you’re away – that’s a risk. Someone not authorized to use your system could play around and extract data or inject malware through a USB drive. It’s less likely to happen in an office where security cameras have a close eye on everyone, but it can happen.

Your device might get stolen or lost. Always lock the devices with a strong password and encrypt all sensitive data. These are exactly the kind of scenarios that encryption helps against.

  • Compromised VPN Password

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows remote employees to connect to a private network. In the post-COVID era, when remote work is at an all-time high, remote access is the need of the hour. VPNs have allowed employees working from home to stay connected to the office’s internal network and securely use its resources.

Hence, if any employee’s VPN credentials are leaked, it will allow an attacker to access resources such as ongoing projects and other types of confidential data.

Prevent Data Breach – The Fundamental Ways to Protect Data

With some understanding of how hackers attack and obtain data, you can develop a data security strategy that stands a chance against ruthless hacking attempts.

  • Keep Systems Up to Date

Software vulnerabilities get addressed all the time through updates. As soon as a critical vulnerability is detected, developers race to implement a fix. But that can only happen if you routinely update your systems. Always download the latest updates for the operating system, applications, and device firmware.

Running legacy operating systems is also a huge security risk. Over time, older operating systems are phased out and do not receive security updates.

  • Implement Protocols

Ensure that data is limited to certain employees. Have firewalls rules in place that restrict web access to malicious domains. Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) analyzes the incoming data by analyzing the contents of the data packets. It helps determine if the data packets contain any malware.

Investing in a robust Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) will allow you to detect malicious network traffic and prevent intrusions.

  • Train Employees

Humans can be the biggest vulnerability when defending against cyberattacks. Cybersecurity training will go a long way in ensuring that your business is safe from external threats. Have workshops at the office that introduce employees to various cyber threats and what protocols they need to follow before sending private data.

Final Words

You cannot simply install the technology and rest easy to prevent a data breach. Malicious attackers are always looking for new ways to exploit vulnerabilities that have not been detected yet. You need to have the same conviction to bring yourself and the security defense up to speed with emerging threats.

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