We are living in a time where technology advances at rapid speeds, the internet is more widely used than ever before, and people are in constant communication with one another. As a result, we are experiencing an uptick in threats to privacy and data security like cybercriminals, malware and of course, data breaches. Now more than ever, maintaining the safety of information must be a top priority.
Data breaches are not an uncommon occurrence and have been affecting every industry for years. Both large and small companies across the world have fallen victim to these attacks. Although data breaches happen frequently, what does the reality of the attack look like? How are corporations affected? In an attempt to answer these questions, we must first take a step back and look at data breaches as a whole.
What is a Data Breach?
There is a lot of information to unpack when it comes to understanding how data breaches work. As stated in a Forbes article, “a data breach occurs when there is an unauthorized entry point into a corporation’s databased that allows cyber hackers to access customer data such as passwords, credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, banking information, driver’s license numbers, medical records,
and other sensitive information.”
The motive behind data breaches is to engage in theft or fraudulent activities. Hackers look to access customer or personal data to use for their own hidden agenda. The real danger comes into play when an organization has no prior knowledge that a data breach has happened, or worse, does not know how to prevent them from happening.
Data Breaches: What’s the 411?
There are two main types of data breaches. The first type occurs through retail companies that contain customer information in their own data systems. This can explain why big corporations like Walmart or Target are at a higher risk and ideal venues for breaches. The other type of data breach is through second-party data sources that hold sensitive information for credit checks like credit bureaus.
Hackers are always finding new ways to create the perfect attack. An article published in Trend Micro outlines the steps necessary for a data breach to be effective. Below are the four key stages:
- Research: A cybercriminal conducts research to find a weakness in the company’s security (people, systems, or network).
- Attack: A cybercriminal makes initial contact with confidential information through either a network or social attack.
- Network/Social Attack: “A network attack occurs when a cybercriminal uses infrastructure, system, and application weaknesses to infiltrate an organization’s network. Social attack involve tricking or baiting employees into giving access to the company’s network. An employee can be duped into giving his/her login credentials or may be fooled into opening a malicious attachment.”
- Exfiltration: Once a cybercriminal has penetrated your network, they can attack and gain access to confidential company data. As soon as the hacker extracts that data, the attack can be categorized as successful.
Depending on the hacker’s motive, a data breach has the power to impact millions of people, companies and networks – especially if it’s not properly handled or stopped in time.
How to Secure Your Data
When researching risk management options to combat data breaches, there are many things that should be taken into account before making a decision. Protecting your personal and professional networks, computers, assets and private information should be a main priority. With that being said, a good place to start should be investing in a security and compliance automation platform.
The demand for these platforms is increasing. Specifically, many auditors within the financial sector are requiring these platforms to defend against exposure due to vulnerabilities, attacks, criminals and other cybersecurity threats. When shopping for the ideal security and compliance automation platform to fit your organization’s needs, here are a few features to look for:
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning
- One-touch compliance reporting and automation tools
- Integrated threat intelligence in real time
- 24/7 search for compromised accounts on the deep and dark web
- Managed compliance, detection and response
At the end of the day, data breaches are a major threat to security and can have a long-term impact on a business or individual. They are not a trend that will disappear, especially as more businesses are operating remotely. Whether you decide to invest in a security analytics platform, or simply start the conversation and put a security plan together, make sure you don’t delay the process and risk remaining vulnerable.
Krystal Rennie is the Communications Manager for Adlumin Inc., a cybersecurity software firm based in Washington, D.C. Her work focuses on producing written content and public relations efforts for the company. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication with a specialization in public relations from the University of Maryland, College Park.