7 Steps to Prevent Data Breach- Knowing how to avoid a data breach is crucial, as they have become more common in recent years. According to the FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 790,000 data breach complaints in 2020 alone, with firms reporting damages of $4.1 billion. According to the data, the complaints increased by 64% when compared to the previous year’s complaints.
Furthermore, emerging technologies like as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and 5G networks have made data breach threats more complex. As a result, as the need to infiltrate protected networks and steal sensitive information grows, cyberattacks are getting more difficult to detect.
Without a doubt, the SolarWinds attack in 2020 was one of the rare high-profile cyber attacks in which sophisticated malware was utilised to steal sensitive data from the US Departments of Commerce, Energy, State, and Justice. The incident, like many others, demonstrates how increased collaboration between state actors and malevolent cyber groups has contributed to an increase in data breach concerns around the world.
Understanding a Data Breach
Unwanted or illegal access to protected information, such as financial information, personal data, social security numbers, and credit card details, is referred to as a data breach. Data breaches can damage someone or an organisation as a result of the rising reliance on digital technologies. Data breaches are primarily caused by poor user behaviour, security weaknesses, or a lack of appropriate security controls inside a network or information system.
As practically all human activities have become more connected through mobile devices, social media interactions, and the Internet of Things, the data breach threat surface has grown substantially (proliferation). The rush to control the IoT industry, for example, demonstrates that users in the present day choose convenience over comprehensive security. Users are constantly exposed to data breach dangers as a result of many manufacturers producing digital goods with insufficient data protection procedures, such as two-factor authentication, encryption, and regular updates and patches.
Human errors, on the other hand, would still result in cyber-attacks and data exfiltration even if all digital technology had perfect data security capabilities. Humans, as one might imagine, are the weakest link in data security since they are frequently duped by social engineering techniques such as opening phishing emails. Other behaviours, such as sharing login passwords for sensitive user accounts, can lead to ransomware attacks and the loss of personally identifiable information.
Implications of Data Breach Costs
A data breach can result in significant financial losses for a small organisation. The cost of a data security breach is made up of the direct and indirect costs incurred by a business in dealing with the consequences. Potential settlements, outsourcing investigations to external forensics experts, and helpline support are all examples of direct expenditures. Indirect costs, on the other hand, include expenses incurred during internal investigations, lost business opportunities owing to system outages or data inaccessibility, and a tarnished brand.
The global average cost of a data breach is approximately $3.92 million, according to IBM Security and Ponemon Institute. Within the last five years, the cost has climbed by 12%, owing to obstacles in reducing the consequences of a cyber-attack, higher cyber legislation, and the severe financial consequences of a breach.
Additional figures illustrating the financial consequences of a data breach are as follows:
- A data breach caused by a Business Email Compromise can cost a business up to $24,439 per record.
- Malware-related data breaches had the largest financial consequences, costing firms $2.6 million.
- Denial of service attacks and web-based attacks are two other costly data breaches.
- Data protection methods, such as integrating cybersecurity into the software development lifecycle, data loss prevention measures, and strong encryption, result in cheaper costs for organisations. The cost of a data breach is reduced to an average of $360,000 when these data protection measures are used extensively.
- A data leak might lead to a drop in stock prices. According to experts, the stock values of companies that have had a data breach drop by an estimated 14 percent within a few days following the incident.
- Every year, security incidents cost the global economy over $600 billion, or about 1% of global GDP.
Common Data Breach Methods in 2022
Ransomware is a malicious virus used by hackers to prohibit businesses from accessing critical data and information systems. In a ransomware attack, attackers demand a ransom in exchange for regaining access to and control over an organization’s data and networks. Ransomware attacks have risen in recent years as a result of new trends in which malware makers build ransomware and rent it out to other criminals, called “ransomware as a service.” During a ransomware assault, the attackers threaten to release important information to multiple dark websites unless the hacked firm pays the ransom.
Ransomware attacks are risky data breaches for a variety of reasons. Companies that pay the ransom, for example, end plagued with data leaks and corruption. Furthermore, ransomware attackers have complete control over the data, systems, and networks infected, prohibiting the victimised firms from carrying out any business operations. A ransomware attack can also damage a company’s reputation because it indicates that hostile actors got unauthorised access and used destructive malware to encrypt consumer information.
Phishing attacks are one of the most common ways to get access to sensitive information. Users are enticed to open harmful links or attachments in phishing emails in order to install malware or divulge confidential information, such as login passwords, to protected user accounts. Phishing attacks are common in most businesses since they require little experience or equipment to carry out.
Phishing emails frequently target company executives and individual system users. Phishing assaults can lead to the installation of spyware and data exfiltration software, which takes and transfers sensitive information to a remote server under the hacker’s control. In some circumstances, attackers use phishing attacks to acquire illegal network access by breaching phishing victims’ account security.
Insider threats are regarded as one of the most serious by cybersecurity experts. Individuals who abuse their access credentials to information systems and sensitive databases to commit cybercrime are known as insider threats. A disgruntled employee, for example, could work with malevolent actors to gain access to intellectual property.
Insider threats, on the other hand, can be deliberate or unintentional. Intentional insider threats are motivated by monetary gain or revenge, and they may use their access permissions to vital systems to commit cybercrime. Inadvertent insider threats, on the other hand, are users who, due to ignorance or insufficient training and awareness, produce unintentional data breaches. Insider threats, in any case, are one of the most serious data breach dangers that businesses should be concerned about.
Best Practices for Preventing Data Breaches
The measures described below are the most effective ways for a business owner to prevent data breaches in their company:
Employee Education and Awareness
Users of the system and data are the weakest link in cybersecurity procedures and the most prone to data breaches. As a result, enrolling personnel in insufficient information security training programmes can aid in the prevention of data breaches. Employee training programmes are critical for informing users about the best practises for information security. A good user training programme should give staff the skills they need to spot phishing emails and avoid making security blunders when handling sensitive customer or corporate data.
Because technology has become such an important part of today’s business interactions, firms must employ acceptable techniques to decrease the risks of data breaches. Endpoint security is a crucial necessity for preventing data leaks. Endpoints are all the devices that employees can use to connect to a company’s network in order to access or transmit sensitive data. Endpoint management systems enable organisations to have network-wide visibility of all connected endpoints and govern who has access to which data. Furthermore, endpoint threat detection systems allow for continuous monitoring of all data traffic flows and real-time notifications when suspicious activity that could lead to a data breach is detected.
Data Backup and Encryption in the Modern Era
Customer data is required by almost every firm in order to provide efficient services. As a result, data is today’s primary driver of company operations and, as a result, the holy grail for the majority of cyber-attacks. Companies must follow strict data backup and encryption methods in this instance to assure ongoing data availability and authorised access only.
Companies must ensure that staff make real-time backups in a secure cloud for data backups. Physical media, such as hard discs, are less secure backup options since they can be stolen or misplaced. Organizations must also adopt adequate encryption systems for data in transit, data in use, and data at rest. Encryption adds another degree of protection by ensuring that only those with the necessary decryption keys can access the data.
Evaluate Data Security Measures Taken by Third Parties
Because of the nature of modern enterprises, it may be necessary for a company to share confidential information with third-party supply chain partners. As a result, the data may be used and stored in insecure environments, potentially resulting in data breaches. As a result, security teams should conduct extensive risk and vulnerability assessments to ensure that third parties who have access to critical information have a robust cybersecurity posture. More crucially, such assessments demonstrate to external parties desiring to engage in any business activity that an entity is serious about data protection.
Password Security Policies that are Strong
Password protection is one of the most widely utilised data security measures among businesses and individuals. Business owners, on the other hand, must enact strict password security procedures. At the very least, the regulations should force users to create complicated, difficult-to-guess passwords. Users should also generate unique passwords for each of their work accounts and devices. Using a password manager, employees may effortlessly log in to secured accounts without having to memorise complex passwords.
Patch and system updates are installed and updated on a regular basis
At the very least, a corporation should use antivirus software and other security measures to safeguard its data assets. Data breach protection systems, on the other hand, are ineffective if a corporation fails to apply security patches and upgrades on a regular basis. Updating all machines and operating systems defends against attacks that try to take advantage of vulnerabilities that haven’t been fixed. Furthermore, keeping software up to date eliminates all weak places that a hacker can attack by addressing current vulnerabilities.
Limit Access to Sensitive Information
A corporation can employ a variety of access control mechanisms to limit who has access to sensitive information. The first step, however, is to categorise all organisational data according to its sensitivity and worth. To prevent unauthorised access to the most sensitive data, effective data protection procedures and access control systems must be implemented. Organizations can limit access to sensitive data by understanding what personal information they have in their IT environment, scaling down information to only keep what the business needs, locking the data they keep, and developing a solid plan to respond to security breaches.