Data Breaches – And What They Entail

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Data breaches can be far more than a temporary terror —anyone can experience huge complications from having sensitive information exposed. Whether you are offline or online, hackers can get to you through the internet, Bluetooth, text messages, or the online services that you use.

Without proper attention to detail, a small vulnerability can cause a massive data breach.

Since many people are unaware of how common modern security threats work, they don’t give it enough attention.

Lets explain data breaches and how they can impact you.

What is a Data Breach?

A data breach exposes confidential, sensitive, or protected information to an unauthorized person. The files in a data breach are viewed and/or shared without permission.

Anyone can be at risk of a data breach — from individuals to high-level enterprises and governments. More importantly, anyone can put others at risk if they are not protected.

In general, data breaches happen due to weaknesses in:

  • Technology
  • User behavior

As our computers and mobile devices get more connective features, there are more places for data to slip through. New technologies are being created faster than we can protect them.

How do Data Breaches happen?

The assumption is that a data breach is caused by an outside hacker, but that’s not always true.

Reasons for how data breaches happen might sometimes be traced back to intentional attacks. However, it can just as easily result from a 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 co-worker’s computer and reading files without having the proper authorization permissions. The access is unintentional, and no information is shared. However, because it was viewed by an unauthorized person, the data is considered breached.
  • A Malicious Insider.This person purposely accesses and/or shares data with the intent of causing harm to an individual or company. The malicious insider may have legitimate authorization to use the data, but the intent is to use the information in nefarious ways.
  • 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 gather information from a network or an individual.

Malicious Methods used to Breach Data

Since malicious data breaches result from cyberattacks, you should know what to watch for.

Here are some popular methods used by hackers

  • Phishing
  • Brute Force Attacks
  • Malware

Phishing. These social engineering attacks are designed to fool you into causing a data breach. Phishing attackers pose as people or organizations you trust to easily deceive you. Criminals of this nature try to coax you into handing over access to sensitive data or provide the data itself.

Brute force attacks work through all the possibilities for your password until they guess correctly. These attacks take some time but have become rapid as computer speeds continue to improve. Hackers even hijack other devices like yours via malware infections to speed up the process. If your password is weak, it might only take a few seconds to crack it.

Malware. Your device’s operating system, software, hardware, or the network and servers you’re connected to can have security flaws. These gaps in protection are sought out by criminals as the perfect place to shove malware into. Spyware specifically is ideal for stealing private data while being completely undetected. You might not find this infection until it’s too late.

How to prevent being a Data Breach victim

Data breach prevention needs to include everyone at all levels — from end-users to IT personnel, and all people in between.

Here are a few best practices to avoid a data breach

  • Patching and updating softwareas soon as options are available.
  • High-grade encryptionfor sensitive data.
  • Upgrading deviceswhen the software is no longer supported by the manufacturer.
  • Adopt effective tools to secure your data, such as using a business-grade VPNservice and antivirus protection.
  • Enforcing strong authentication techniques such as password managers to help secure access to your data.
  • Use a quality anti-malware software