According to an article on Wikipedia “A data breach is a security incident in which sensitive, protected, or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen, or used by an individual unauthorized to do so.”
Significant data breaches often-times happen on a colossal scale involving millions if not billions of records. When you think of it, attackers seem to love big and blue-chip companies because the more significant the impact, the fatter the paycheck. The stolen information is then used to commit credit card fraud, identity theft, and a host of similar types of crimes. Some attackers will even sell the information in bulk on the dark web giving even more bad actors the opportunity to commit crimes.
It is clear that data breaches are a severe problem that mandates organizations to prepare beforehand. So what are some of the most frequent types of data breaches and how can we protect our businesses from these threats?
One common type of breach involves physical theft. This type of breach can be as simple as someone plugging a USB drive into a server containing sensitive information or as brazen as someone carrying a hard disk out of your business premises. The best defense from physical theft is securing your premise, reviewing storage of sensitive data, locking server and telephone closets, safe deposit boxes and even shredders can all be part of physical security.
Another type of breach involves a cyber attack. Since an attacker does not have to be present to breach security, but simply needs a computer with Internet access, experience, and a couple of hacking tools to remove data without your knowledge. Common tools used to break into computer systems include malware, key-loggers, fictitious websites, Trojans, back-doors, as well as viruses. Some ways to encourage a clean and safe cyber profile include mandatory password changes on a timely basis, secure VPN for remote connectivity, dual factor authentication, updated firewall and anti-virus, and installation of updated software and operating system security patches.
Another type of threat to data security is the insider threat. Several ways to combat this type of threat includes restricting access privileges, decrease in the number of devices with access to sensitive data, and knowledgeable personnel to support increasingly sophisticated technology.
Ransomware is yet another current threat to data loss and business interruption. Most of the same defenses used to diffuse data breaches should be used to combat ransomware. These best practices along with a carefully implemented backup plan are effective to combat ransomware.
The best defense to security breaches is a good offense. Be proactive in your selection of tools used to protect your data, be diligent with your employees, and be prepared to recover in the case of an attack.