What is Data Breach?
A data breach is one of the most destructive cybercrimes that cause a lot of downfalls to most businesses. It is a kind of cybercrime that leaks all the confidential or protected data to the unwanted community. The information leakage is also known as exfiltration; it describes the transmission of data without affecting the source data. The worst situation in a data breach is the complete loss of data, which perpetrators can use for various malicious purposes.
Different Types of Information Leaked in a Data Breach
All sort of information occurs in a business transaction, and there is no safe information in a data breach. Listed below are the types of information that can be leaked;
- Financial Data – includes credit card numbers, bank details, tax forms, invoices, and other financial statements.
- Medical or Personal Health Information – stated in the US HIPAA standard, “information that is created by a health care provider and relates to the past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of any individual.”
- Personally Identifiable Information (PII) – refers to all the information that can be used to identify, contact or locate a person.
- Intellectual Property – this includes patents, trade secrets, blueprints, customer lists, and as well as contracts.
- Vulnerable and Sensitive Information – it usually refers to the military and political aspects such as meeting recordings, protocols, agreements, and other classified documents.
As mentioned earlier, a data breach is a very destructive type of cybercrime as it can cost a lot of damage to a certain organization. In a 2017 survey, the average data breach costs its victim $3.5million. There are a lot of factors that cause this information leaks at businesses or organizations.
- Insider Leaks – also called “insider threats” are caused by former employees who still have access to sensitive systems or business partners. They often do these things for personal purposes such as financial gain and commercially valuable information.
- Payment Fraud – is an attempt to create false or illegal transactions. The typical situation for this is credit card breach, resulting in fraud, fake returns, and triangulation frauds. This allows attackers to open fake online stores, set up meagre prices, and use their illegally acquired payment details to buy actual stores.
- Loss or Theft – Any device containing sensitive information that can be stolen, such as mobile phones, laptop computers, thumb drives, and portable hard drives, can cause a data breach.
- Unintended disclosure – Not all data breach incidents are caused by an attacker; it is usually an unintentional exposure of confidential information. A perfect example is when an employee accesses essential information and saves it to a non-secure location.
Ways to Prevent Data Breaches
Companies must always be extra careful with handling their data because once data breaches occur in their organization, they will lose their credibility. A data breach is a type of cybercrime that is hard to avoid, but it is possible to minimize the damage by following these practices:
- Up-to-date Security Software – make sure that the security software that the company is using is updated and patched regularly to prevent weak spots for attackers.
- Regular Risk Assessments – it is essential to carry out vulnerability assessments to identify any changes or new risks in data protection. Review all the aspects such as data storage and remote access for employees, and most importantly, ensure that policies and procedures are sufficient.
- Encryption and Data Backup – Employees data must be encrypted on work devices. It is better to back up data to remote services using the internet instead of backup tapes that can be easily stolen.
- Staff Training and Awareness – Staff must be aware of these best practices to understand the importance of data security in the company. This principle should be the company’s top priority.
- Ensure Vendors and Partners Maintain High Data Protection Standards – Business partners should also be informed of your high standard of data protection, especially if they are handling some of your data.
- Third-Party Data Security Evaluations – it is necessary to have a third party that can carry out a risk evaluation to have an outside view of the current breach risks. From this point, advice from a data security expert is needed for the best solutions.