Introduction

 Many of us have heard about data breaches, but very few of us know about them and how it can harm the business. It is a security incident where unauthorized access to information results in consumers and businesses hurting negatively for the uninitiated. It can prove to be a very costly expense for the businesses and can irreparably damage reputations and lives. These days, we hear a lot of news and stories about massive data breaches. With the advancement in technology, our information is further moving towards the digital world. As a result, cyberattacks have become quite common and costly incidents. It is thus important to prevent data breaches. 

  1. What is a Data Breach?
  2. Causes of Data Breach
  3. Methods of Data Breach
  4. Prevention from Data Breach

1. What is a Data Breach?

A data breach is defined as an incident where information is stolen from the system without any authorization or knowledge of its owner. It involves stolen data that is proprietary, sensitive, or confidential. Such information includes customer data, credit card numbers and other details, trade secrets, and more. As per statistics released by the Ponemon Institute, a company suffers from a data breach at the cost of $3.86 million. This clearly shows how online crime is fast becoming a real threat for any person on the internet. 

2. Causes of Data Breach

It is imperative to find out the causes of data breaches so that businesses can protect themselves from this menace. It is slightly challenging but not impossible to anticipate data breaches caused due to the following reasons. 

A) Stolen or weak credentials

One of the most common and simplest reasons behind a data breach is stolen or weak credentials. Many people take passwords very lightly and use anticipated passwords like Password12345 or use their name. It becomes child’s play for cybercriminals to access sensitive and confidential information. 

Cybercriminals are experts in their game and can crack even moderately secure passwords with remarkable ease. They make use of specialized computer programs and run through millions of passwords. The vulnerability further increases if the same password is used for multiple accounts. 

B) Application Vulnerabilities

Crooks and criminals can conveniently exploit technical vulnerabilities seen in almost all software. Thus, it is imperative for a business to maintain routine programs that help address the problem of these vulnerabilities before the criminals take advantage of them. Fix the vulnerability as soon as possible. When fixing a vulnerability, a patch is released by the software provider that needs to be applied by the businesses using the program. 

3. Methods of Data Breach

Cybercriminals use several methods of data breach. Some of these methods are-

A) Physical Actions

In this method, a data breach occurs sans any technology use. It may involve stealing a laptop, theft of important files or papers, and storage devices. Card skimming is another physical data breach example. People who work from home need to take a lot of care of their assets and ensure it is not stolen or compromised. 

B) Unauthorized Use

Many businesses take the threats posed by their employees very lightly, and research indicates that 12 percent of data breach occurs because of the organization’s employee. Thus, when hiring an employee, a proper background search must be carried out. Employees may also misuse information that is legitimately available with us. Thus, a person of strong ethics and morality must be hired. 

C) Malware

In this method, cybercriminals may use malware for the data breach. They may use RAM Scraping wherein digital devices’ memory may be scanned to collect sensitive and confidential information. Keyloggers are another way of stealing sensitive information and security passwords.

D) Social Engineering

This is one of the deceptive ways used by criminals to manipulate people. Many fraudsters use this method and act as a legitimate person to dupe people. They use phishing, baiting, and other online data breach ways to deceive people and take advantage of human weakness. 

E) Human Errors

Many times, human errors also result in the data breach. A simple mistake can result in a blunder. Often, employees do not check email addresses properly and mail sensitive information on the wrong ID resulting in a data breach. 

F) Criminal Hacking

SQL Injection and malware are the top reasons and methods used by criminals to carry out a data breach. Associated with coding, criminals resort to hacking and steal sensitive data and information. 

4. Prevention from Data Breach

There are certain ways to ensure prevention from data breaches. Here are a few ways through which it can be ensured-

  • Asset Inventory- Keep an updated inventory of your software and hardware inventory used in your physical and network infrastructure. It shall help in understanding the security posture of your company. It also helps in building ratings and categories around vulnerabilities and threats encountered by the business.
  • Compliance and Vulnerability Management- Use a VCM tool or a Vulnerability and compliance tool that helps the business identify weaknesses, gaps, and data breach security misconfigurations within physical and virtual environments. It constantly monitors IT assets and infrastructure for compliance and vulnerabilities weaknesses. 
  • Regular Security Audits- Carrying out regular security audits helps identify gaps in governance and compliance that help in security posture validation. The audit thoroughly assesses security policies in contrast to penetration testing and vulnerability assessment. 
  • Staff Training- It is imperative to train and educate the staff to be safe against data breach incidents. It is possible by training them regularly and update them about the latest methods used by cybercriminals to carry out data breach—these regular security training help to curb this problem significantly. Put security policies in place and ensure employees’ adherence to the same so that data breach protection can be ensured. 

Conclusion

The menace and impact of data breaches are growing exponentially due to advancements in technology and information largely shifting to the virtual infrastructure. It is prudent to put several security policies and ways to prevent data breaches in place and make people vigilant about these threats that can prove detrimental to the business and individual interests. Taking timely actions can help protect the business from such costly blunders.

So, have you made up your mind to make a career in Cyber Security? Visit our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Red Team) for further help. It is the first program in offensive technologies in India and allows learners to practice in a real-time simulated ecosystem, that will give you an edge in this competitive world.

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