Data Breaches: Causes, Effects, And How to Prevent Them
This technological era has many uses for sharing our personal details online. We often trust that the website or business we share the information with will keep it safe.
However, with the increase in data breaches and leaks, this is not the case. Every day our personal data is at risk of ending up in the wrong hands. Information leaks are a real and common threat to many individuals and businesses. So what can businesses do to protect our personal data?
In this article, we’ll explore data breaches and what causes the leaks. We’ll also take a look at some of the recent breaches. Finally, we’ll cover a few ways to avoid leaks, such as using strong passwords and proxies to add extra protection to data. Keep reading to discover more about data breaches and how they happen.
In this article on breaches, we’ll be covering the following topics:
- What is a Data Breach (and its cause and effects)?
- What are the biggest Data Breaches to date?
- How to protect against Data Breaches
What is a Data Breach?
A data breach happens when personal or sensitive information is shared or accessed by an unauthorized person. In many cases, this isn’t done intentionally.
However, there are certain situations where a malicious attack causes a data breach. The files are then viewed, shared, or sold without permission.
These leaks pose serious threats that can affect anyone. In 2021 alone, 212.4 million US users were affected by breaches.
Causes of Data Breaches
There are a few different causes of data breaches. An employee might make a mistake and accidentally send an email with sensitive information to the wrong person.
They can also occur because of carefully crafted attacks such as malware, phishing, and system hacking.
Here are eight of the most common causes of breaches:
- Weak or stolen credentials,
- Backdoors and application vulnerabilities,
- Social engineering attacks,
- Permissions given,
- Insider threats,
- Physical attacks, and
- Improper configuration or user error.
Effects of a Data Breach
Data breaches can have numerous negative effects on a business. Not only will the brand’s reputation suffer, but there’s also a risk that it’ll lose its intellectual property. However, the biggest effect of a data breach is the financial implications.
Information leaks can cause millions of dollars in damages to individuals and businesses. The data collected from these breaches can be used in ransomware attacks, forcing businesses to pay a large sum of money to have the data released.
Alternatively, it can also be used for identity theft, ruining an individual’s financial health and credit.
Breaches are such a serious threat that many governments are holding businesses responsible if it turns out that they don’t have the proper security measures in place to combat such a breach.
Businesses involved in a leak can face penalties of up to 2% of their annual turnover. This amount can cripple many businesses.
What are the biggest Data Breaches to date?
Data breaches have a massive effect on many different users. Although businesses are often the targets, especially healthcare and financial sectors, the individuals whose data is leaked are affected the most.
- June 2022, Shields Healthcare Group breach – 2 million affected
- June 2022, Flagstar Bank breach – 1.5 million affected
- June 2022, Former Amazon employee convicted of leak – affected 100 million
- May 2022, Texas Insurance leak – affected 1.8 million
- April 2022, Cash App breach – affected 8 million
How to protect against Data Breaches
Businesses and individuals can take a few simple measures to protect their valuable data. However, a multifaceted approach yields the best results when it comes to cybersecurity.
Therefore, we recommend simultaneously using as many of these measures (and other security protocols).
Limit access to data
In many businesses, especially smaller or start-ups, most employees have access to all the data – even if they don’t need it for work purposes.
This is a mistake as it could lead to accidental leaks. Businesses should limit access to sensitive data to only the employees who work with it. Access control measures should also be in place to ensure that only authorized employees can gain access.
Use proxy services
Getting proxy services from a reliable provider is also a great way to protect your data. Proxies will hide your IP address behind one of its own.
Related: Proxy Server and How Does it Work?
In doing this, your IP address can’t be tracked or hacked by outside sources. A proxy adds another layer of protection to your network connections.
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Employee security awareness training
Unfortunately, most leaks are caused by employees. In most cases, this is because of user errors and happens unintentionally. This is why it’s important to provide employees with security awareness training.
This will educate them on the potential threats, the importance of security protocols, and what to do in the case of a breach or any other suspicious activity that could lead to a data leak.
Keep software updated at all times. Software updates don’t just add new features or address bugs; they also address potential security vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals can exploit these vulnerabilities to access your system and networks if they aren’t addressed.
Create a Cyber Breach Response Plan
This is critical for any business serious about protecting its sensitive data and that of its clients and employees. A cyber breach response plan will outline what is done to protect data and what needs to be done when a data breach occurs.
This will include how the extent of the breach will be determined, how affected individuals will be notified, and any other steps to mitigate the effects.
Data breaches are a real threat that many businesses and individuals face. Barely a day goes by without us hearing of another data breach. As such, it’s important to understand how these happen and what can be done to prevent them, such as educating staff, using proxy services, and more.