The why and what of Data Breaches

The why and what of Data Breaches

A data breach is an incident where information is stolen or taken from a system without the knowledge or authorization of the data owner. Both small companies and large organizations are susceptible to data breaches. Data breaches are typically attributed to hacking or malware attacks.

There are 3 different types of data breaches – physical, electronic, and skimming. They all share the same amount of risk and consequences but are unique in execution.

What does Data Breach constitute?

Specific Business Data or Personal Data is targeted only when it is of value to a third party. Different kinds of data represent different levels of business risks. The various types of data include:

Personally Identifiable Information (PII) – Personally identifiable information (PII) is any data that could potentially identify a specific individual. Examples include a full name, Social Security number, driver’s license number, bank account number, passport number, and email address.

Financial Data – Financial data consists of pieces or sets of information related to the financial health of a business or an individual. This includes charge card numbers and expiry dates, bank accounts, investment details and similar data.

Personal Health Information (PHI) – Personal health information (PHI) is a category of information that refers to an individual’s medical records and history. PHI includes health records, health histories, lab test results, and medical bills.

Intellectual Property – Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Intellectual property rights include patents, copyright, industrial design rights, trademarks, plant variety rights, trade dress, geographical indications, etc.

Legal Information – This includes documentation on court cases the company may be pursuing, legal opinions on business practices, merger and acquisition details and regulatory rulings.

IT Security Data – Data security is the exercise of protecting digital information from unauthorized access, leakage, or theft throughout its lifecycle. This includes lists of user names and passwords, encryption keys, security strategies and network structure.

Data Breach Threats

Knowing what causes a data breach is the first step in preventing one. Here’s a short list of major causes for data breaches:

Vulnerabilities in Security – Security vulnerability is a software code defect or a system misconfiguration such as Log4Shell through which attackers can directly gain unauthorized access to a system or network. Most old and unpatched security vulnerabilities go unfixed for long periods of time – and this allows hackers to easily hack into your systems.

Human Errors – In the context of data security, human error relates to accidental actions – by employees and users that effect, extend or allow a security breach to occur. Human error accounts for 52 percent of the root causes of security breaches. Some examples are: weak passwords, sharing information with external parties, falling for phishing emails.

Malware – Malware is an overall term for any type of “malicious software” that’s designed to gain access to your device without your knowledge. Malware is intrusive software that is designed to damage and destroy computers and computer systems. These include – viruses, worms, Trojan viruses, spyware, adware, and ransomware.

Data Breach Mitigation

Companies can limit data breach and data leak incidents by incorporating a data-centric solution that allows organizations to firmly control who can read specific files and data sets.

This is possible through the right kind of encryption. If a specific file or email is encrypted properly, you can control who can read it at all times. In case of a data breach incident and unauthorized data access, they will not be able to read it and a data breach can be effectively avoided.

Some more effective ways are: Doing Regular Audits and Educating employees on the importance of Data Security.

Remember that secure data ensures – increased customer loyalty, trust, high revenues, and a positive brand reputation.