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Cybersec Basics 5: What is a Data Breach

The month of October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. At this time, organizations raise awareness on the importance of cybersecurity for businesses and individuals all around the world, ensuring that users are knowledgeable on how to stay safe and secure online. To take part in this campaign, we will discuss what a Data breach is, why it happens and how to prevent it.

What is Data Breach

A data breach happens when cybercriminals are able to successfully penetrate through a protected data source to steal or encrypt sensitive information or devices. Data breaches can happen to practically anyone online, especially those who do not have the necessary protection. Hackers can steal personal information such as government ID numbers, bank details, customer lists, and many more and use it for malicious intentions (identity theft or financial theft).

As more of our devices have connective features, there are more risks involved. New technologies are being created at a rapid speed, making it difficult for us to keep up with protection. A lot of the “smart” devices that are on the market do not have the necessary components for a secure device, making the problem grow even bigger. Hackers can take advantage of the gap in security and use it as an entryway to a device, system, or network. Without the necessary security elements, users and businesses are at risk of a breach.

Why it happens

There are different ways that data breaches can happen. Here are four common ones: 

  • Phishing

Phishing is a type of cyberattack that tricks victims into revealing sensitive information, which, consequently, can cause a data breach. Attackers pose as legitimate companies or people the victims know to fool them into handing over login access or other sensitive data to use to gain access to a target’s system.

  • Malware

Malware, or malicious software, is another type of cyberattack that can be programmed to steal or encrypt data or devices. It is one of the primary reasons for data breaches because of its range and stealth. Some forms of malware have evolved to be undetected by anti-virus programs, making it difficult for users. Hackers are able to access a company’s database and steal all important information for their use.

  • Lost or Stolen Devices

Data breaches don’t happen online exclusively, it happens in the real world as well. If any lost or stolen device contains sensitive information, it can be a cause of a data breach. people must secure their devices and dispose of documents properly to keep data safe.

  • Human Error

According to statistics, 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. it is considered one of the biggest concerns for companies as a mistake can cause millions in damage and other consequences. However, many companies still overlook the importance of education and awareness of the dangers that lurk. Some mistakes that employees can make are:

  • Weak passwords
  • Falling for phishing scams
  • Revealing sensitive information to others
  • Downloading malicious attachments or clicking malicious links
  • Negligence

By providing employees with proper cybersecurity training, companies can reduce their risk of a data breach.

How to prevent it

It is no secret that cyberattacks are on the rise and have become even more sophisticated in recent times. Companies need protection now more than ever before. Data breaches can result in millions in damages while affecting millions of people around the world. Users and businesses must know the basics of cybersecurity. Here are a few suggestions on how to prevent a data breach:

  • Control access to data: not everyone in a company needs access to all networks and information. Consider limiting access to different networks and databases by establishing separate user accounts. This can help control entry and make it easier to manage and record.
  • Require strong passwords and Multi-factor authentication (MFA): weak password is one of the main reasons that accounts are compromised. Companies should consider implementing password standards by requiring staff to choose complex passwords that are not used in any other business or personal accounts. In addition, establishing an MFA to a system can further prevent breaches and secure data from being stolen.
  • Segment endpoints and networks: some cyberattacks are designed to jump from one device to another through shared applications, documents, and networks. By segmenting endpoints and networks, companies can limit access between computers and the internet. Segmentation divides endpoints and networks into smaller isolated parts and allows users to control traffic flow, giving companies the freedom to stop any harmful traffic from reaching other devices.
  • Cybersecurity training: many experts believe that the best way to prevent cyberattacks is by educating employees and users about cybersecurity. As stated earlier, human error is a huge factor in why data breaches happen but by educating people on the best practices and ways to avoid attacks, companies can greatly reduce their risks. If people are aware of the dangers and are taught how to protect themselves, we can mitigate the possibility of a breach.

Data breaches can happen to anyone but taking the necessary steps to prevent data breach attacks can greatly help. Implementing certain rules, software and systems can create a strong front line to protect you and your company from data breaches.

References:

Kaspersky. “How Data Breaches Happen.” Www.Kaspersky.Com, 23 Aug. 2021, www.kaspersky.com/resource-center/definitions/data-breach.

“Data Breaches 101: How They Happen, What Gets Stolen, and Where It All Goes.” Security News, 10 Aug. 2018, www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/security/news/cyber-attacks/data-breach-101.

“5 Ways to Avoid a Data Breach.” Cose, 20 Mar. 2018, www.cose.org/en/Mind-Your-Business/Operations/5-Ways-to-Avoid-a-Data-Breach.

Hanna, Katie Terrell, et al. “Data Breach.” SearchSecurity, 7 May 2021, searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/data-breach.

Prosegur, Cipher. “5 Effective Ways to Prevent Data Breaches.” Cipher, 8 Sept. 2020, cipher.com/blog/5-effective-ways-to-prevent-data-breaches.

Post, Affiliate. “Data Breaches 101: Why They Happen and What Data Gets Stolen.” Cybint, 19 Nov. 2020, www.cybintsolutions.com/data-breaches-101-why-they-happen-and-what-data-gets-stolen.

 

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