Data breaches pose one of the greatest threats to organizations today, exposing sensitive data that puts individuals at risk and leaving them open to identity theft.
Businesses must be ready to quickly respond to a security breach by notifying law enforcement, notifying customers or users affected, contacting law enforcement themselves and fixing the security problem as quickly as possible. Furthermore, it may provide credit monitoring services for affected individuals.
What is a Data Breach?
Data breaches occur when confidential data falls into the hands of cyber criminals, such as hackers. A data breach could involve personal details like names, email addresses and passwords leaking out into cyberspace as well as financial and health records being exposed. A data breach can have far reaching effects; for instance if identity thieves obtain access to this data they could open credit card accounts in victims’ names as well as take out loans with ease.
Malicious attackers typically cause data breaches; however, they can also result from negligence on the part of employees or flaws within systems despite even having the best cybersecurity measures in place.
Data breaches can have devastating effects on any business’s reputation and bottom line. A study revealed that 3 out of every 4 customers in retail, finance and healthcare would stop doing business with that company after it had been breached – this loss of trust can have immediate repercussions for sales figures and expenses. Aside from reputational effects of data breaches there may also be legal ramifications – many states, DC and Puerto Rico require notifications when security breaches involve personal information as well as country-specific laws which must also be considered when conducting operations abroad.
6 Most Common Types of Data Breaches
Data breaches occur when sensitive, confidential and/or protected information is copied, transmitted, viewed or stolen without being authorized. This could include personal details like credit card numbers, Social Security numbers and medical histories or trade secrets from companies. Criminals could then use this data breached data for identity theft purposes as well as theft from bank accounts or sale on dark web marketplaces.
Criminal hacking is the leading cause of data breaches, using malware to gain unauthorized entry to computer systems or network infrastructure. Cyberattacks utilizing methods like phishing, ransomware distribution, SQL injection or similar techniques may also occur as part of this scheme.
Accidental loss or theft is also a leading cause of data breaches, including lost laptops and other devices that store sensitive information. Apple was recently affected by such an accident when an employee left out an unreleased prototype iPhone in plain view – leading to its specs and hardware being publicized online and making it very hard to track down who has access to such private details.
1. Stolen Information
Data thieves target information stored on computers, servers and networks. To gain access to sensitive data they exploit weaknesses in computer systems; employ social engineering techniques or conduct phishing campaigns; purchase malware allowing unauthorized entry; or exploiting weaknesses within organization networks to gain unauthorized entry.
Once hackers gain entry, they can gain access to personal and corporate intellectual property for financial gain and misuse it to commit identity theft or fraud.
People impacted by breaches are vulnerable to credit card and other forms of financial fraud, so it’s vital that breach response plans include an identity theft prevention strategy as well as provide credit monitoring or other services for those whose information was stolen.
Establish the type and quantity of data compromised during a data breach to help assess its damage. Consider ways you will make consumers aware of any possible harm from this incident and plan for how best to communicate about the issue with them.
Cybercriminals often gain access to sensitive data for sale on the black market or use it to breach accounts or make fraudulent purchases; or simply as an exercise to show their skill at stealing sensitive information.
Ransomware is an increasingly prevalent threat that encrypts files and applications on computers and servers so they are unusable, forcing their attackers to demand payment in exchange for unlocking your data. Businesses and governmental organizations alike have experienced immense financial damage as a result of ransomware attacks, with businesses losing billions annually to this attack vector.
Many antimalware programs will quickly isolate devices infected by malware and disconnect them from networks in order to limit its spread, but simply removing it won’t decrypt your encrypted files – only attackers have access to decryption keys that can do that.
Early ransomware types often targeted file types such as.doc,.xls,.jpg and.zip files, while more sophisticated variants target databases, websites, office software applications, SQL servers, CAD models and virtual desktop environments – making these files particularly susceptible. As these files often constitute business critical files that criminals could demand a ransom payment against; having an effective backup plan in place is of the utmost importance to avoid being held captive by criminals.
3. Brute Force Attack
Hackers rely on brute force attacks to gain unauthorized access to user accounts, passwords, encryption keys, hidden web pages and content. These attempts may be performed manually or automatically via scripts and automation; using trial and error method they test all combinations of passwords, pins, usernames and variables until one matches; it also works on ciphertext text by trying all possible keys until one successfully cracks it.
Hackers rely on automated tools to expedite these brute force attacks, which requires both time and computing power to carry out. These automated tools attempt a large number of guesses per second – typically targeting easily compromised passwords or credentials that have leaked.
Credential stuffing, in which attackers take advantage of users reusing the same login info across websites, is another effective method of gaining entry. Brute force attacks typically seek financial gain: the attacker may profit by placing advertisements on popular sites that pay out each time someone clicks or views one, or infecting an infected site with activity-tracking malware and selling its information to third parties.
4. Recording Keystrokes
Keystroke loggers are pieces of software or hardware that monitor a computer and log every keystroke you type – including passwords, private chat conversations, file inputs and more. This information can then be stored away for later use by hackers attempting to gain entry to accounts or steal funds; or just tracking productivity levels of employees using it as they work at their computers.
People may try to bypass keyloggers by employing keyboard shortcuts and moving the cursor with their mouse; however, this may cause it to record incorrect letters. Alternating between typing passwords and other characters could also cause it to record them incorrectly.
People should stay updated with the latest patches for their computers, use strong passwords, enable two-factor authentication and avoid public Wi-Fi networks in order to reduce keylogger risk. Companies must ensure their security is also up-to-date by implementing firewalls and intrusion detection systems, providing employees with all relevant patches as soon as they become available, creating policies on employee cybersecurity and monitoring service providers to make sure they’re doing likewise.
Hackers steal any and all information they can get their hands on, whether that be credit card numbers, email addresses, passwords, usernames or social media credentials. Once they gain this access to such data they use it to gain further entry to other accounts or acquire personal data in order to breach additional accounts, steal identities or make fraudulent purchases.
Attackers begin their assault by conducting reconnaissance on a company, looking for weaknesses in its security measures. Attackers could exploit a weakness in third party software used by the firm or use botnets to gain entry to its network.
Once an attacker gains access to your system, they can deploy malware through phishing emails and other methods, silently spying and transmitting private data back to them.
Cybercriminals have become more creative and advanced with phishing attacks. Phishers use fake executive emails to trick employees, customers or vendors into sending money to an impostor account they set up in a fraudulent email (BEC), and it was the most frequent form of data breach in 2019. A variation on this known as whaling involves attackers targeting CEOs or senior executives for additional damages as they often have access to sensitive corporate data.
6. Distributed Denial of Service DDoS
DDoS attacks utilize multiple compromised computer systems to attack one website or resource, slowing or shutting it down in order to deny service to legitimate users and become an invaluable weapon of hackers looking for revenge, blackmail or the chance to make their point.
These attacks may come in the form of homebrew scripts and tools, botnets – networks of connected PCs, smartphones, routers infected with malware and controlled centrally by an attacker – or “volumetric attacks”, where hundreds or thousands of people click a link at once to a site or resource, overloading its capacity.
DDoS attacks, whether short bursts or repeated assaults, can cripple online businesses and undermine consumer trust, costing companies fortunes in compensations and long-term reputation damage. Preventative measures should include vulnerability assessments and penetration testing as well as devising a plan to address high priority vulnerabilities. Organizations should consider DDoS mitigation solutions which may include 24×7 security monitoring or an on demand approach that meets budget and business requirements.
Data breaches occur when sensitive information from an organization, such as financial records, medical data, employee files or Social Security numbers is stolen and misused for illicit gain.
Hackers have access to this data via malware infections or by infiltrating members of the supply chain, and then sell or utilize it for identity theft and other crimes.
How can users protect from data breaches?
Data breaches occur when hackers gain unauthorized access to private information like bank account details, credit card numbers and login credentials for email accounts or social media websites. They can also expose confidential company or industry details like business strategies or customer lists.
Cybercriminals can gain access to this data by hacking into individuals or companies’ systems or exploiting software vulnerabilities, which is then passed onto third parties through cyber attacks or data breaches. Breach incidents have affected everyone from large multinational corporations such as Equifax or Target to smaller businesses using personal devices for work at home or remote workers using personal devices for work at home.
Data breaches can also expose personal information of those affected, including their address, phone number or Social Security Number. This can lead to identity theft as well as long-term effects such as damage to their credit rating or missed opportunities for growth.
Companies can prevent data breaches by implementing robust cybersecurity solutions that detect and block threats. Employees should be trained to recognize signs of cyberattacks and given tools like password managers, VPNs and anti-virus solutions to help defend themselves. Likewise, company security practices must hold partners and vendors to the same high standards.
What Can Attackers Do with Stolen Data?
Hackers gaining access to data breaches may use stolen information in various criminal activities. They could, for example, use it impersonate victims during phishing attacks and other malicious methods; steal passwords/usernames to online accounts known as credential theft; etc.
Criminals often sell stolen personally identifiable information (PII), such as names, emails addresses, phone numbers, bank account and credit information, login credentials, social media posts and digital images, for large sums of money. Once gained access, this PII could be used by fraudsters to gain entry to other accounts or steal money or damage their financial reputation – potentially costing victims dearly in terms of security breached.
Hackers frequently sell data they obtain from data breaches in illegal marketplaces and forums on the Dark Web in “data dumps”, where compromised passwords and account details can be sold or distributed freely – potentially giving other hackers and identity thieves access to steal people’s accounts, sell information to third-parties or simply break into more accounts. When organizations experience data breaches they should provide timely and clear updates that address consumer concerns while mitigating further damage or potential loss of business.
Is my stolen data encrypted?
Data breaches affect businesses of every size, from JD Sports and T-Mobile to Mailchimp, PayPal and Chick-fil-A. Breaches expose sensitive customer lists, credit card data, product designs and intellectual property to criminals who can use it either financially or fraudulently – leaving vulnerable companies exposed.
Attackers can gain access to data through various means, including ransomware attacks that hold computer files hostage until their victims pay to unlock them. They can also hack into companies by exploiting vulnerabilities in software, hardware or networks; such vulnerabilities might exist due to old and out-of-support software being released quickly without testing, rushed releases of new software without sufficient testing, or third party solutions with known flaws being utilized by them.
Attackers may access data through social engineering attacks or by compiling information from various sources, such as public records services and the dark web. While some attackers are motivated by profit, others may be upset with how a company acts or have personal grudges against its employees, customers or shareholders; regardless of motive, the end result remains the same – reputation damage, business decline and potential legal trouble for affected companies.
What do criminals do with my data?
Cybercriminals typically sell stolen data obtained in data breaches to other criminals or use it directly against victims – for instance by opening credit cards and bank accounts in their name without permission, filing false income tax returns and applying for loans using stolen PII.
Hackers use stolen data to attack other companies and organizations; 2018 proved an outstanding year for them as some of the world’s top tech firms and retailers experienced breaches.
Criminals will sometimes post stolen data online for all to see, or use it for extortion; for instance, hackers who targeted a Finnish psychotherapy practice recently threatened to release patients’ mental health records unless a ransom payment was received from them.
Data breaches can have serious repercussions for businesses and organizations, both financially and reputationally. They can even result in legal consequences should the organization breach privacy laws or industry compliance regulations. When experiencing a data breach, companies or organizations should carefully examine all of the compromised data as soon as they become aware and take measures to lower risks to their customers, employees, and stakeholders as soon as possible.
Data breach laws
Most states and DC have laws in place that require companies to notify consumers if a data breach occurs. Laws differ from state to state depending on factors like what information constitutes personal information (PII) as well as whether encryption technology was utilized when protecting data.
Laws typically mandate companies to notify affected consumers and the media within 72 hours after an information security breach has taken place, and many also include penalties for violations and consumer restitution such as free credit monitoring/freezes. Furthermore, these laws may impose other requirements such as updating systems/corporate governance to address breaches or creating policies and procedures to prevent future ones.
Some laws place limits on what information may be disclosed to law enforcement and require conducting a risk of harm assessment prior to reporting breaches to consumers or the media. Other regulations, like PCI DSS compliance regulations, regulate who can handle and use sensitive PII such as credit card numbers, names and addresses; healthcare organizations must abide by HIPAA which dictates who can see patient PHI (personal health information).
What should I do when my data is stolen?
If your organization experiences a data breach, be sure to have an actionable plan in place for communicating with all relevant parties. Avoid making misleading statements or withholding important details that put consumers further at risk; additionally be ready to answer frequently asked questions and offer useful resources online.
Individuals should first determine what data was exposed, then change any passwords which have been compromised – this includes accounts affected by a breach as well as everywhere that password was used online.
Monitor online activity and financial account statements for suspicious activities, such as unapproved charges or anomalies. Furthermore, contact each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) in order to freeze credit reports – this will prevent identity thieves from opening accounts in your name.
Shred any letters containing personal data such as names, dates of birth or Social Security numbers as this could prove invaluable for criminals looking for your data. Furthermore, it’s wise to update operating systems and software programs regularly as this will deter attackers from accessing your data in the future.
Data breaches can have dire repercussions for businesses of any size, even small firms may be forced to close after experiencing one while larger enterprises can experience financial losses, damaged credit reports and decreased productivity as victims are no longer able to use their services or products.
Data breaches have the power to have serious repercussions for individuals as well. Identity fraud and other scams may follow as personal information is stolen and sold on. People may lose trust in companies and organizations they provide their data to, reducing revenue for these businesses in turn.
Responding quickly and decisively to a data breach is key to mitigating damage. This might involve shutting down affected systems if possible and installing temporary fixes to prevent further unauthorized access. It’s also vital to document what occurred so the entity can gain insights from what occurred and improve security measures going forward – for instance, companies may find their systems are particularly susceptible to attacks from certain third-party service delivery partners; to make sure these providers remain secure they should scrutinize these providers carefully as part of its response plan.