Data Breaches: Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Data Breaches

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What is a Data Breach?

A data breach happens when unauthorised people access protected data, usually during a cyber attack. These unauthorised people are called threat actors. They might take, share, or demand money for the data they’ve accessed.

Who Can Be Affected?

Data breaches can happen to any organisation, whether it’s a small business or a big company. The important information that could be exposed includes secrets about business, personal medical records, and details like your name and address.

Responsibility and Accountability

If you’re in charge of people’s personal information, you’ve got to keep it safe. If someone gets hold of it without permission, you’ll be in trouble under data protection laws. This could mean severe repercussions like operational disruption, financial penalties, tarnished reputations, and legal challenges.

The Cost of a Data Breach

The IBM Cost of Data Breach report highlights the average data breach cost in the US at $4.24 million. The rise in cybercrime, particularly ransomware, keeps increasing for many organisations.

When a data breach happens, it’s not just a one-time problem. It causes more than just chaos and the effort to fix things. It can result in fines from the law, less work being done, and damaging a company’s image. When a breach happens, companies may lose customers and investors, and have to pay big fines set by regulators.

In healthcare, where keeping patient information private is crucial, data breaches are especially bad. Losing money because customers don’t trust the company anymore is the main reason why businesses suffer across all industries.

During a breach, the systems that got attacked stop working, which means no more processing data or helping customers. This leads to losing money until everything gets back to normal. Plus, if a security breach goes unnoticed for a while, the damage can be even worse because attackers have more time to steal data.

 Log4Shell, 2021—A severe remote code execution (RCE) flaw was identified within the widely-used Java logging framework, Log4j. This problem could let attackers take over systems that use Log4j, without needing users to do anything. Attackers likely targeted many big companies worldwide in different fields to exploit this problem.

Kaseya, 2021—An unidentified attacker infiltrated Kaseya’s systems and propagated ransomware to a minimum of three MSPs leveraging Kaseya’s solutions. This supply chain breach led to the ransomware affecting approximately 800-1500 businesses of varying sizes that were clients of these MSPs.

Facebook, 2021—A breach compromised the private data of over 533 million Facebook users, revealing sensitive details such as full names, birthdates, current cities, and content from Facebook timelines. White Hat Security uncovered this vulnerability in 2021, although it had existed since 2019.

JBS, 2021—The third-largest global meat processing company fell victim to a ransomware attack. This incident caused significant operational disturbance across numerous beef and poultry processing facilities on over four continents.

Sina Weibo, 2020—The Chinese blogging platform disclosed that its database was partially accessed by unauthorised parties, leading to the exposure of personal data for 538 million users, including names, usernames, geographic locations, and contact numbers. This compromised database was reportedly sold on the Dark Web for $250.

Key Factors Leading to Data Compromises

Inadequate Security Measures for User Credentials

Data breaches happen when attackers get into our data online. They usually do this by figuring out our passwords. People often pick really easy passwords or use the same one for everything. This makes it super easy for attacks to get into our accounts without permission.

 To combat this, organisations should implement robust password guidelines and adopt multi-factor authentication for all critical systems and data. The shift towards passwordless authentication methods is gaining traction, effectively mitigating the risks associated with vulnerable passwords.

Software Security Flaws

Security problems in software can let attackers do harm. People who make software and know a lot about security are always finding these problems and fixing them before bad people can use them.

If you use software, it’s important to update it quickly when it releases new fixes. If you fail to update, malicious actors may exploit your system.

Risks from Within

Employees with access can see confidential data, which might cause trouble by using that information for themselves, for emotional reasons, or to get revenge.

Regular security methods typically fail to detect these threats because they have permission to access the system. But new security tools, like watching people’s behaviour, are getting better at spotting internal security threats.

Dangers of Malicious Software

Malware, or malicious software, is a tool for cybercriminals to get into and compromise systems, often through social engineering tactics or by exploiting software vulnerabilities. Once installed,  malware can steal usernames and passwords, take important information, encrypt or destroy files, and even spread to other computers and cause big problems.

 Manipulative Social Engineering

Social engineering exploits human vulnerabilities to breach security. Cyberattacks often trick people with some form of social manipulation. They use phishing, baiting, pretending, and scare tactics to get sensitive information or breach security protocols. So, it’s important for companies to teach their staff about these tricks since they are usually the easiest target for cyberattacks.

Strategies to Mitigate Data Breach Risks

Regular Security Audits

It’s crucial for organisations to conduct consistent security audits to pinpoint system weaknesses and potential threats. These evaluations are instrumental in verifying whether current security measures are robust or need enhancement, thereby fortifying the organisation’s defence mechanisms.

Adherence to the Principle of Least Privilege

When setting up Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems, it’s really important to follow the rule of least privilege. This means giving users only the access they absolutely need for their job. Even though it can get complicated with lots of users and changing roles, it’s crucial for stopping unauthorised people from getting into important data.

Robust Data Backup and Contingency Planning

Regularly backing up your data and having a good plan for emergencies are really important for quickly fixing problems if your data gets stolen. Doing this not only helps you react quickly when something bad happens but also keeps your work going smoothly. It’s also important to keep updating your safety plans and how you back up your data to make sure they stay strong against cyber attacks like ransomware.

Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing

Simulated cyber-attacks, done through penetration testing, help ethical hackers find weaknesses in computer systems. It’s like practising how real hackers might break in. Whether it’s outside experts or your own team, they pretend to attack your system to see how easy it is to get in.

Penetration testing also helps organisations make sure they’re following cybersecurity rules. By regularly doing these tests, they can find and fix security problems before bad guys take advantage of them.

For all your data privacy needs, Contact Praeferre.