A data breach is a security incident in which an unauthorized user accesses or steals sensitive information. During a data breach, hackers expose personal data, either online or offline.
Data breaches can have a devastating impact on businesses. They can damage an organization’s reputation and lead to financial losses. They can also cause customers to lose trust in a company. In some cases, data breaches result in legal action against the organization.
The Rise and Impact of a Data Breach
According to the IBM, Cost of a Data Breach 2021 report, the average total cost of a data breach increased by the largest margin in seven years. It increased from $3.86 million in 2020 to $4.24 million in 2021.
It is difficult for organizations of any size to detect a data breach. But it is especially difficult for small businesses who may be limited in trained security professionals. According the IBM study, it took an average of 287 days to identify and contain a data breach. The most common type of record lost is personally identifiable information (PII) of customers with an overall average cost per record of $161. In the initial three quarters of 2021, cybercriminals exposed 36 billion company records.
- 85 percent of data breaches involve a human element
- Compromised or stolen user credentials caused 65 percent of this
- Social engineering occurred in more than 35 percent of incidents
Phishing as a Key Tactic in a Data Breach
One common tactic hackers use in a data break is phishing in which attackers attempt to trick people into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords or financial information. These attacks can be very difficult to detect, as they often come from seemingly legitimate sources.
One of the most common ways that phishers will try to trick their victims is by sending an email that appears to be from a legitimate organization. The email will often contain a link that takes the victim to a fake website that looks very similar to the real thing. Once on the site, it asks them to enter their login information or financial details.
Organizations need to be aware of the threat posed by phishing attacks and take steps to protect themselves as well as their employees. Train employees to recognize phishing emails and report them to the appropriate authorities. Organizations should also consider implementing security measures such as two-factor authentication to make it more difficult for attackers to gain access to sensitive data.
Recognizing Data Breaches
If your business has experienced a data breach, there are several warning signs that you should be aware of. These warning signs can help you determine if your business is at risk for further damage in addition to helping you take steps to prevent future data breaches.
- Unexplained decreases in sales or web traffic
- Unexpected changes in financial data
- Unusual activity on your website, such as increased traffic from unfamiliar IP addresses or strange user behavior
- Employee complaints about being unable to access company data or systems
- Mystery charges on your credit card
Reporting a Data Breach
Reporting any type of cybercrime, such as a data breach, is imperative to help others avoid scams. As a society, the more people that report online scams and fraud, the more national reporting data we can collect. With more data, law enforcement has a better chance at catching the criminals and decreasing cybercrime.
If your business experiences a data breach, the first thing you should do is notify your employees and consult with an attorney or legal organization about how to notify your customers. Next, you should assess the damage and take steps to prevent future breaches. Finally, you should work with law enforcement to investigate the incident.