Data breaches are an incident where data (particularly sensitive, protected or confidential data) has been accessed, shared or otherwise exposed in an unauthorized way.
If you understand the most common causes of data breaches, then you will be able to mitigate the threats before they manifest themselves into a breach.
So let’s cut to the chase and look at some common reasons why data breaches occur in the first place.
1. Unpatched Applications
Problems arise when users delay updates or ignore updates altogether. If you do not update your systems and applications the moment the latest patches are released, you leave yourself open to attackers who have identified the vulnerability.
Sadly, it’s often human error that allows attackers access to encrypted channels and sensitive information. Sure, an attacker can leverage “gifts” such as zero-day vulnerabilities to break into a system, but in most cases, their success involves provoking or capitalizing on human error mainly due to weak passwords and sharing of sensitive information to unofficial sources.
Malware is malicious software that attackers attempt to implement on the target system, usually through vulnerabilities in unpatched applications. Malware can be implemented in several ways, but the most common is through phishing attacks; blanket targeting of users by email with malicious links or attachments. The way to detect and prevent malware is to educate your employees on how to spot or dodge websites and monitor whenever suspicious changes take place to your systems, permissions and data.
4. Insider Threats Due to Misuse of Privileged Access
Insider threats take several different forms, from the negligent employee through to the malicious disgruntled employee, but the consequences of a data breach can be devastating. Insiders may already have legitimate access to your most sensitive data, making it that much harder to spot threats.
5. Physical device threat
Physical theft of devices that contain sensitive information, including laptops, mobiles, hard drives, and USB drives, can also severely damage your security posture. As these types of threats are often opportunistic, they can be difficult to mitigate. Often, the best thing to do is to prevent data storing devices from being used in the office.
While the most reasonable means for preventing data breaches involve common sense security practices, information security experts also encourage encrypting sensitive data, whether it is stored inside an on-premises network or third-party cloud service. In the event of a successful intrusion into the environment, encryption will prevent threat actors from accessing the actual data.
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