What is a Data Breach?

Despite all your efforts and the notable precautions you take as a business owner to protect your customers’ data, data breaches can still happen. Therefore, you are likely wondering if your current efforts are enough to truly protect those who depend on you to protect their information. Suffice it to say that these days, if your business isn’t prepared, it will fall victim to a data breach sooner or later. The real question is when not an attack or a data breach will happen.

Therefore, it’s important for you as the head of your company to understand what goes on behind a data breach, how it happens, and what is targeted as well as consider some ways that you can protect your business by preventing one from occurring in the first place. Read on to learn more:Request-a-cyber-risk-assessment-for-your-business

What is a Data Breach?

A data breach basically describes when cybercriminals access a computer network system and subsequently steal confidential, sensitive, or private information from users or customers. The risk of a data breach exists in any size organization. No one is immune to such an occurrence as data breaches can and do occur in the smallest businesses as well as in the largest corporations. As a business owner, you should never feel your data is safe when you haven’t taken measures to protect against a breach because it can happen to any business at anytime.

How do Data Breaches Happen?

Now that you know your business can be targeted by a data breach, it’s important to look further into how these attacks occur. The following are the most common ways that those who hack into systems or breach systems accomplish the task:

Lost or Stolen Credentials or Equipment

The equipment that you do your business on, like your laptop or your smartphone contains loads of valuable information you do not want to fall into the wrong hands. After all, one-way breaches happen if you lose said equipment, or it is stolen from you or an employee. Of course, criminals can also access private information by using login credentials remotely, which can also be stolen. This basically serves as a master key on online data that gives them access through your login information.

Social Engineering

Sometimes data breaches begin in a sneakier way. Instead of them stealing equipment or login information or important credentials to access the data they want, they instead trick people into handing over sensitive information via psychological manipulation. This occurs when the victim believes they are speaking with someone else, someone they trust, and then only later find out that the person they thought they were talking with was hacked, and they were instead playing right into the hands of a cybercriminal and giving away important information.

Insider Threats

This can be one of the hardest ways that data is stolen to guard against because it occurs when people who have access to protected information intentionally expose that data. They usually do this to gain personally from it by being paid for said information.

Malware or Ransomware

Malware attacks occur when an attacker tricks a target into clicking on a malicious attachment, link, or website. Then, just like a virus, the malware begins attacking computers and stealing information from the inside, often going unnoticed for a time.

Phishing

This is another sneakier approach that is often employed to trick potential victims into sharing sensitive information. Often, the attacker poses as someone from an organization they trust to get the information they need to access the data they want.

Poor Cybersecurity

An unencrypted website that collects personal or financial data can be viewed in plaintext by anyone who is monitoring transmissions between the user and the website.Curious to Know if Your Company Might  Be a Good Candidate for a Captive?

What is Targeted in Data Breaches?

The following is the most often targeted information that is then used by attackers:

Financial Data

This includes bank information like account and credit card numbers that attackers can use to steal money.

Credentials

This can be the login information mentioned above that gives attackers access to valuable information within a company.

Intellectual Property

This includes designs or manuscripts that one person has the right to over another.

Personal Information

This includes addresses and other information that will allow attackers to open up accounts in the name of the victim.Selling Your Business? Here's What You Need to Do

How Do You Prevent Data Breaches?

Now that you see the many ways that attackers can target your business to gain valuable information from your employees or customers, you likely want to know what you can do to stop this from happening. How do you keep your data safe? Thankfully, you aren’t powerless in the matter as there are actionable ways you can address this issue and keep your business safer from would-be attacks. Read on to learn more:

1. Invest in Quality Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity programs detect potential threats, stop malware downloads and ultimately prevent malware from entering your network. Therefore, any business that houses data that could be stolen and used for financial gain should be using some sort of quality cybersecurity program. In addition, you should also use multi-factor authentication processes to keep protected information that much more secure.

2. Encrypt Your Website

If you haven’t already, you need to encrypt your files and website. Today’s cyber criminals use attacks like ransomware to attack your company. The best way to protect against this is encryption. In today’s society where so much information is shared online, it is simply imperative that you encrypt your files and protect your website.

3. Keep Your Software and Hardware Up to Date

Make sure you are always using the latest version of your cybersecurity program. This will help you prevent vulnerability and make it harder for attackers to target your business. This means that installing cybersecurity programs and then letting them sit idly will do little good. You have to keep them updated so they are well-equipped to stop the latest attacks. Otherwise, you will be bringing a knife to a gunfight. Your program will be unable to recognize today’s trending threats and unable to prevent them.

4. Train Employees

Sometimes keeping data safe doesn’t fall in the realm of more technology. It instead involves simply teaching employees what to look for and how to avoid being the target of social engineering attacks. Educate your employees on the risks they face online. You should also share what types of cyber attacks are often used and teach your employees how to recognize them. It’s worth noting that according to IBM, some 95% of all cyber-attacks are made possible thanks to human error. You can greatly impact your cybersecurity risk simply by ensuring that your employees understand what not to do online.

The Damage Done by a Data Breach

In less time than it takes to prepare a cup of coffee, an immensely devastating data breach can be orchestrated within your company’s database. After this data breach occurs, your business can suffer both in the short term and in the long term. It can cause a halt in normal business operations while you scramble to regain control of your data, which can be negatively impactful. It can also lead to long-term loss when personal details or intellectual property is stolen. Then, there is the impact on your reputation. There is simply nowhere to hide from the backlash you will face after suffering a data breach as it communicates a lack of dependability. Keep in mind, if a breach occurs, transparency is key to maintaining your reputation and bouncing back. Make sure you tell your customers if their data is compromised and help them know what to do next to prevent additional problems.

Bottom Line: It’s up to You to Protect Your Data

Taking proper precautions ahead of time can protect you from losing millions of dollars or your reputation and customers in the event of a cyber-attack. An ounce of prevention is most certainly worth a pound of cure in this instance because once your customers' data has been stolen, it is difficult to regain their trust in you as a company once again.

Therefore, it is vital that you take steps to prevent such situations from happening in the first place as much as you can. If it does happen, the next step is to have an action plan in place on what to do next to solve the problem as promptly as possible. Obviously, you want to prevent it from occurring but preparing for the worst possibility is still wise on your part.Information is power: Subscribe to our blog

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