What is a Data Breach – Here’s What You Need to Know
By Christine Margret 7 minutes
A data breach refers to the leak of confidential information. Thousands of companies fall victim to data breach where hackers gain unauthorized access to their system and steal confidential data.
Cybercriminals often steal data and encrypt it to deny access to the owner of the data, in return hackers ask for a ransom to decrypt data.
Moreover, some cybercriminals make unauthorized entry to a system and steal data to use it for unlimited malicious purposes. In the data breach, cybercriminals gain access to the most private and sensitive information including, passwords, credit card details, social security numbers, contacts, medical records, and a lot more to use in fraudulent activities.
In this guide, FastestVPN will help you to explore everything about a data breach plus, we will also let you know the best preventions to stay secure against security data breaches.
How do data breaches happen?
Data breaching is now a business for cybercriminals. Hackers earn money by accessing and taking over a business’s sensitive data. However, such privacy invasion occurs when there are big holes left for exploitation. Some of the most common reasons that invite data breaches are:
Cybercriminals always look for some vulnerabilities in the company’s security system to exploit it. They research everything including people, systems, and networks of a company to find access to take control over data.
Mostly, outdated software or software bugs allow hackers to sneak in malware and steal sensitive information. Hackers leverage from the most common vulnerabilities that are typically present in internet browsers and operating systems.
SQL Database attack
SQL database attack or SQL injection is an attack in which cyber criminals make the most from SQL database vulnerabilities.
Hackers attack a website with a weak SQL database. The website allows unauthorized access to its database. SQL injections are easy attacks and require no technical knowledge that’s why they are commonly used by hackers around the world.
Cybercriminals send email attachments or trick you into downloading something that appears as harmless, through which they install malware like spyware to your system. Spyware steals confidential data by installing itself as a Trojan malware and transfers all the data to the servers that are controlled by the hackers.
Fake emails or phishing
A phishing attack is the most common cyberattack for data theft. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals send you emails showing you that it is from one of your acquaintances. Sometimes, these fake emails tell you to take an action like log into a page. Users believe that the email is coming from one of his associates. However, the sole purpose is to get the login credentials.
Security data breaches also occur when organizations use easy passwords. Such passwords can be decoded easily. Therefore, it is recommended to use strong passwords and also use multifactor authentication for a system that has confidential data.
Weak access controls
Sometimes weak access controls also become a cause for a data breach. An organization’s access management should be smart and foolproof otherwise and limited to concerned people only, even the strongest passwords will not control the unauthorized access.
Loss of a device
A data breach can also occur in case, if your laptop, computer, mobile or hard drive gets misplaced or stolen. If each of your devices has unencrypted, stored data then a criminal has the chance to extract data off of it.
Types of Data Breaches
Cybercriminals usually look for banking details, credit card information, system passwords, email addresses, personal medical records, trade secrets and blueprints. The most common data breaching techniques are;
- Denial of Service (DoS)
Difference between a Data Breach and Data Leak
A data breach or a data leak will drive similar consequences in which a company’s sensitive data will be exposed. However, a data breach occurs when a hacker or cybercriminal gains unauthorized access over a company’s system and takes control over it.
Whereas, a data leak also exposes the company’s private data but there are no intrusions involved. Data leaks can be accidental or occur mistakenly due to a lapse in security.
The Biggest Data Breaches of the History
No company should ever take data breaches on a lighter note. Even the world’s biggest companies got hacked and faced severe data breaches. Let’s take a look at the biggest data breaches of history.
When did the Equifax data breach occur?
Equifax data breach happened in March 2017. Equifax is the largest and most reputed consumer credit card reporting agency.
Equifax was using old software and hackers exploited the recognized software bug. They got access to the software that was supporting the Equifax website. The worst part about the data breach was that hackers stole a huge amounts of customer data and stole the confidential information of 145.5 million Americans.
The stolen data included the customers’ names, addresses, date of birth, drivers’ license numbers, and Social security numbers. Unfortunately, this data breach was worst and one of its own kind, since it also exposed the credit card numbers of 200,000 people.
When did the LinkedIn data breach occur?
LinkedIn is a very popular professional social platform and unfortunately, it also falls victim to the data breach that happened in the year 2012.
In this data breach, Russian cybercriminals stole encrypted passwords of 6.5 billion users. The hacked accounts were no longer working for the real users and LinkedIn was continuously asking users to change the password just after the incident.
Later on, Linkedin confirmed the data breach. The next day, users’ passwords were posted on a Russian forum in plain text. An internet security firm also notified that all the stolen passwords could be in the criminals’ custody.
When did the Yahoo data breach occur?
Yahoo doesn’t need any introduction since it’s been a tech giant of the past and unfortunately, it also encountered a data breach in the year 2014.
In the Yahoo data breach, hackers stole the personal information of 500 million Yahoo users. In 2017, the US Department of Justice reported the criminal charges against four Russian nationals claiming that they were the part of Yahoo cyber-attack. Two hackers were caught by the Russian government officials among which the only one was sent to the prison.
How to prevent data breaches?
Organizations cannot prevent data breaches using a single software or security program. To prevent a security breach, companies must be consistent when it comes to security testing.
There should be regular penetration testing to check if there’s any hole for the exploitation. In case, if companies found anything risky, an immediate fix is compulsory. Strong passwords and up-to-date software are the key standards for preventing data breaches. Moreover, organizations should encrypt every data whether it is stored in the cloud or on premise.
Setup a VPN to get protection from online hackers and keep your business browsing secure. Other than that, the organization should properly plan network security and must breakdown the computer network into subnetworks to cut hackers’ access to the entire network.
There are a few more rational solutions to prevent data breaches. Organizations should create a proper backup for sensitive data and must format hard drive and other devices from time to time.
Train your employees not to type in emails and passwords everywhere. Only use secure URLs and authentic websites plus, never give in your credit card details. You can use PayPal to pay your bill without mentioning your confidential information.
Data breaches are not going anywhere, so, therefore, the best thing that we can do is follow safety measures. Regularly updating system software, using VPN, applying strong passwords, data encryption and robust system management are a few security actions that will protect your company against any unauthorized access.