Data breaches are becoming one of the top priorities for most organisations. If you are concerned about this, you need to look further than cyber criminals looking to hack your system. There are a lot of other ways that your information and systems can be compromised leading to a data breach. You must know some of the most common ways that data is breached in companies.

Employee Error

When it comes to data breach defence, your employees are going to be the weakest link. All organisations could be a single click away from having data and systems hijacked. These incidents are often caused when employees do not follow procedures and data leaks occur.

An example of this is when emails are sent in bulk. If the recipients are listed in the CC field instead of the BCC field, all recipients will be able to see all the emails the message was sent to. While this is bad when it is the emails of people who have signed up to get a newsletter, it can be catastrophic when the email reveals sensitive information such as political affiliations or medical status.

Cyber Attacks

Cybercriminals will look to target organisations in a number of ways. While different methods are being used, they can be broken down into 3 categories. The first is exploiting access to sensitive information. This could include those bulk emails or a brute-force password back where they visit log-in pages and use a tool that generates millions of passwords looking for the right one. These tools will generally break into accounts within seconds unless the account holder has sent a very strong password.

The second kind of cyber attack will be the use of malware. This is used to gather sensitive data or to disrupt the operation of the business. Many types of malware can be used and each has a specific use. Some malware runs in the background and collects information about the browsing habits of the computer user. Others will make use of the CPU to perform tasks for the hacker.  Other malware packages are explicit such as adware, viruses and ransomware which corrupt systems and delete files.

The last attack category is social engineering. This is an attack form which needs to have its own discussion and is a major cause of data breaches.

Social Engineering

Social engineering is an attack where the hacker will masquerade as a legitimate organisation or person. They will then use this persona to trick the user into doing something and this will vary depending on their method of attack. They could trick the user into:

• Downloading a malicious attachment

• Providing them with sensitive information

• Providing them with access to a restricted area either physicals or through log-in details

Phishing is the most common form of social engineering. When using this attack, criminals will send emails from supposedly legitimate organisations which contain urgent requests. The most common emails will state that there was a problem with a service delivery and information is required or the user will need to provide log-in details. While phishing attacks are generally done via email, a similar tactic is used in text messages and on social media.  Making sure you have a UPS battery can help keep your defences strong, look at modular UPS vs conventional UPS to help you decide.

Malicious Insiders

Employees are a serious security risk in your business and it is not only mistakes that can help cause a data breach. Your employees could be the cybercriminals who are attacking your business. Most malicious insiders will be motivated by the same reasons as any other type of criminal.

They could be motivated by revenge. Employees who feel that they are underappreciated might want to hit back at the company through sabotage. The same can be said for people who have recently been let go.

They could also be motivated by financial gain. If you have an employee who is desperate for money, they might email copies of a database to themselves. They will then sell the information on the dark web.

Physical Theft

Many people forget that not all data breaches are digital. Physical theft of paper records and devices can provide access to the sensitive data that criminals need. If you have paper records that are not correctly disposed of, they can easily land in the wrong hands. Criminals could realise that you are throwing away documents without shredding them correctly. Additionally, documents can sit in landfills waiting for anyone to find them.

Businesses also need to be careful when getting rid of equipment such as computers and USB sticks. These items contain a lot of data that can be fraudulently used. You need to ensure that they are completely wiped before getting rid of them.

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