Data breaches occur when a cyber attacker illegally accesses confidential information. Investing in cybersecurity awareness training and a detection response solution is the best prevention against a data breach.
What Is a Data Breach?
A data breach occurs when an unauthorized party accesses private data.
Data breaches are most often intentional and part of a campaign by cybercriminals who work to steal valuable personal information. Once the information has been accessed, criminals leverage the data so they may profit at the expense of the victim.
In some instances, data breaches are accidental. When an employee accidentally exposes information on the Internet, criminals often pounce to benefit from the vulnerability.
Data breaches involve the theft of personal or corporate identification numbers. Targets may include:
- Personal data, including social security numbers, that enables identity theft.
- Financial information, including banking credentials and credit card numbers, that enable fraudulent purchases.
- Personally identifiable information, including email addresses, phone numbers, and social media accounts, then enable phishing attacks.
- Operational data, including contracts, suppliers, and the details of key business relationships, that compromise an organization’s credibility.
What Causes a Data Breach?
In the 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, Verizon identified key patterns used by cyber attackers to steal data.
These patterns all result in data loss and data breaches. They include:
- Data leaks
- Lost, stolen, and cracked passwords
- Vulnerability exploits
- Poor configuration management
- Third and fourth-party data breaches
- Universal Plug and Play protocols
Why Do Attackers Create Data Breaches?
Data theft is financially driven. Once attackers have acquired data, they use it for profit. Their actions may include selling the data or committing fraud by impersonating individuals.
Data breaches require organization on the part of the attacker. Once the data has been breached, attackers must assess the data to identify the valuable information. They prioritize login credentials, financial information, social security numbers, names, and phone numbers.
After the data has been prioritized, attackers use several channels to make money.
Data Sales on the Black Market
Attackers typically resell data once it has been acquired. By anonymously selling data online, attackers enable 3rd parties to conduct fraudulent activities using an organization’s or person’s leaked data.
Attacks aren’t limited to simple fraud. In some cases, attackers purposely steal valuable intellectual property as part of an espionage campaign, a nation-sponsored attack, or straight-up play for riches. In 2018, intellectual property accounted for $500 billion dollars, or a full third of overall cybercrime.
Alternatively, attackers may use stolen data leverage to encourage a ransom payment.
In a more recent advancement in data breaches, ransomware-as-a-service evolved to enable affiliates to use ransomware tools to carry out ransomware attacks. Ransomware-as-a-Service also decentralizes attacks, making it difficult for authorities to trace attacks.
The creators of these tools take a percentage of each successful ransom payment. Affiliates general collect up to 80% from
each payment, while the developed collects 20%.
Protecting Your Organization from Data Breaches
Data breach prevention doesn’t come without a cost. However, the cost is significantly lower than data recovery after a breach.
Prevention requires an investment in education and solutions.
Cybersecurity Education is Key
Educating employees about cyber attacks is a key measure to prevention. There are key indicators to watch for – like unexpected links, strange spelling in emails, and odd attachments – that indicated a communication isn’t legitimate. It does, however, take awareness and time to learn to notice these indicators. By educating employees about what to watch for in email and text messages, your organization can greatly reduce the risk of a data breach.
Create Policies for Configuration & Password Management
Configuration management ensures cloud services do not inadvertently expose data to the wider Internet. By carefully managing and tracking configuration changes, your organization can identify and track data breaches and data leaks. Most frequently configuration management applies to servers, databases and storage systems, operating systems, networks, software, and apps.
Password security is an easy prevention for brute force attacks, where attackers try random password combinations to access a network. Organizations can support their employees by offering password managers so that strong passwords are easy to remember and hard to guess. Multifactor authentication adds an additional level of security by requiring a secure password and a one-time access code. That means an attacker would need access to many secure points to breach your organization’s data.
Solutions Provide Real-Time Monitoring Insights
Perhaps the greatest peace of mind comes from tools that monitor your computers, laptops, and servers for changes. These solutions scan for vulnerabilities and identify any suspicious activity. From software that passes organizational muster (like video games) or attempts to breach the network (via phishing or malware), real-time monitoring solutions identify and catch threats before they become obstructions to data security.
CYDEF Prepares MSPs for the Worst-Case Scenario
CYDEF’s suite of solutions protects your business – and your client’s data – from catastrophic loss related to data breaches. The combined power of our cybersecurity education solution and continuous endpoint monitoring enhances your security posture, and guarantees attacks are detected before data is revealed to the public. CYDEF’s free proof-of-value can provide a real-time sense of all that our solutions are capable of. Get your free trial today!