Data Breaches – Not a day goes by without a data breach incident making the headlines. Organisations have been hit with hefty fines from regulators and incurred irreparable damage to their brand. It’s necessary to take all possible precautions to prevent data leakage. The question now is: What makes an organisation vulnerable? When an organisation gets breached, it’s because of many things. Let’s see the most common causes of data breaches affecting organisations without further ado. Needless to say, these incidents can have far-reaching effects, from the legal department to the day-to-day business operations.
People make mistakes. No one is perfect, and they’ll make mistakes, even if they don’t intend to. From a cybersecurity and data protection standpoint, human error is defined as the unintentional actions of an employee, which can lead to a data leak. Human error can be classified as skill-based error and decision-making error. The first type of error arises when an employee fails to complete a task they’re familiar with. They know the process but choose not to follow it due to a lapse in judgement. The second type of error materialises when an employee compromises sensitive data because they don’t understand the risks involved.
It’s impossible to eliminate human error entirely, but it can be minimised. This can be done by providing extensive training and promoting security issues. It would be best to create a privacy culture by holding regular awareness sessions, focusing on mistakes that can lead to data breaches. Manuals on handling incidents and data breaches are helpful. Via a complex, holistic approach, it’s possible to reduce the human error percentage and prevent security mishaps. If not provided with appropriate training, employees are helpless in the face of cyber threats.
Stolen Credentials, Such as Passwords
Malicious actors steal credentials using various techniques, tactics, and procedures. Examples include credential stuffing, phishing, password spraying, keylogging, and local discovery. The compromised data is exploited to orchestrate an attack and steal sensitive information, which can be used for fraud, blackmail, and hacktivism. Unfortunately, organisations make life easier for threat actors by using weak passwords. According to Data Breach Compensation Expert, weak passwords have been the cause of severe cyber incidents and reputational damage for the likes of Dropbox and Equifax. The victim may sue the organisation that holds the data if security measures lack the necessary strength.
All employees should have passwords of a minimum of eight characters, a combination of numbers, special characters, and letter cases. Passphrases tend to be easier to remember and difficult to crack. They can reach up to 100 characters or more, so they provide better protection against attempts to crack them. It’s recommended for organisations to implement password audits, a process that’s already taking place in some organisations. If one member of the team uses a weak password, the entire network is under threat. A password audit implies using software to test the network against attacks. It will highlight any weak access points.
Theft/Loss of Devices
If a phone or a laptop is gone, the information stored on it, whether financial, customer, or HR-related, is lost too and that represents a breach, the trickiest one to handle. More specifically, the organisation is open to costly legal action. While the devices are replicable, the data on them is not so much. If the worst has happened, it’s crucial to report the theft/loss and activate the necessary security measures. Suppose the devices had anti-theft apps installed. It’s possible to send commands remotely. Every scenario calls for a tailored response. In a world with a boundless workforce, such incidents aren’t uncommon.
Too Many Permissions
If an organisation doesn’t strictly control who has access to sensitive information, there’s the risk of having the wrong permissions or out-of-date permissions for some people. Not everyone should be given high-level access to the files and systems, needless to say, as this gives rise to additional security risks for the organisation. Cyber-attackers can take advantage of the situation and get their hands on the data. Therefore, privilege can be dangerous. Some employees accumulate more and more permissions with time, getting access to private information or sensitive systems. Human error can lead to information leakage.
The fewer people log into the sensitive systems and have access to private data, the better protected the organisation is. By restricting access, an organisation has guarantee that data isn’t vulnerable to threat actors. It helps minimise the potential misuse while ensuring that employees can actually carry out their tasks. Misuse can lead to theft, leaking or destruction of data, not to mention legal issues. The point is that an organisation should take the time to manage its user permissions to limit employee access, especially when people are working remotely.
Malicious Cyber Attacks
A cyberattack is a malicious attempt to breach the information system of an organisation to derive some benefit from the victim’s network. The bigger the organisation, the more likely it’s a target. Such incidents have increased with the growth of the potential for monetary gains. Malicious data breaches can result from phishing, brute force attacks, or malware. Speaking of which, cybercriminals constantly design malicious software to infiltrate computer systems and recover precious data. The hackers do their homework so they know who they’re up against. More exactly, they’re aware of the vulnerabilities of their victim.
More often than not, cyber-attacks occur because systems or software aren’t up-to-date. Once malicious actors are in, there’s nothing that can be done. The management of updates and patches is of the essence. And so is Wi-Fi security. There’s always the risk of giving away private information, transaction details, and other types of data. Guests should be isolated to their own subnet. It would be best to invest in MDM, TLS, and WPA2 for maximum security and encryption. Local traffic can be encrypted with a VPN that offers multiple layers of protection. It ensures a private, secure connection to the Internet.
In a hyper-connected business world, data breaches are a fact of life. It’s up to organisational leaders to reduce the risk and respond to threats more proactively.
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