The assumption is that a data breach is caused by an outside hacker, but this is not always true.
The reasons why data breaches occur can sometimes be attributed to intentional attacks. However, it can just as easily be the result of simple oversight by individuals or flaws in a company’s infrastructure.
Here’s how a data breach can occur.
- An accidental insider. An example would be an employee using a colleague’s computer and reading files without having the correct permissions. Access is involuntary and no information is shared. However, because it has been viewed by an unauthorized person, the data is considered hacking.
- A malicious insider. This person knowingly accesses and/or shares data for the purpose of harming an individual or a business. The malicious insider may have legitimate permission to use the data, but the intention is to use the information maliciously.
- Lost or stolen devices. An unencrypted and unlocked laptop or external hard drive, anything that contains sensitive information goes missing.
- Malicious outside criminals. These are hackers who use various attack vectors to collect information from a network or from an individual.
Methods Used To Breach Data
Since malicious data breaches are the result of cyber attacks, you need to know what to watch out for.
Here are some popular methods used by hackers
- Brute Force Attacks
These social engineering attacks are designed to trick you into causing a data breach. Phishing attackers masquerade as trusted people or organizations to easily deceive you.
Criminals of this nature try to persuade you to give you access to sensitive data or to provide the data itself.
Brute Force Attacks
Brute force attacks exploit every possibility of your password until they guess correctly. These attacks take time but have become rapid as the speed of computers continues to improve.
Hackers even hack other devices like yours through malware infections to speed up the process. If your password is weak, it may only take a few seconds to crack it.
The operating system, software, hardware, or network and servers to which you are connected from your device may have security vulnerabilities. These security holes are sought after by criminals as the ideal place to introduce malware.
Spyware is particularly suitable for stealing private data while being completely undetectable. You might not find this infection until it is too late.
Damage A Data Breach Can Do !
In many cases, data breaches cannot be simply corrected with password changes. The effects of a data breach can be a lasting problem for your reputation, finances, etc.
For businesses: A data breach can have a devastating effect on a company’s reputation and bottom line. Organizations like Equifax, Target, and Yahoo, for example, were victims of a data breach. And today, many people associate/remember these companies for the data breach incident itself, rather than for their actual business operations.
For government organizations: compromised data can mean the exposure of highly confidential information to foreign parties. Military operations, political transactions, and details of critical national infrastructure can pose a major threat to a government and its citizens.
For individuals: Identity theft is a major threat to victims of data breaches. Data leaks can reveal everything from social security numbers to banking information.
Once a criminal has this information, he can engage in all kinds of fraud on your behalf. Stealing your identity can ruin your credit, get you in legal trouble, and it’s hard to fight.
Although these are common cases, the damage caused by data breaches can extend far beyond these situations. It is therefore essential that you check whether your data has already been exposed.
To find out if your personal or work accounts have been compromised, use this tool to check for existing data breaches for your email address and report what has been disclosed.
Of course, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid being a victim in the first place. No security plan is perfect, but there are ways to defend yourself, whether you are an individual or a business.