The Basics of Business Data Breaches
A data breach is a security incident in which information is accessed or stolen by unauthorized individuals. Data breaches can occur when personal data is exposed, either online or offline. They can also occur when an organization’s systems are compromised, allowing attackers to access sensitive data.
Data breaches can have a devastating impact on businesses. They can damage an organization’s reputation, lead to financial losses and cause customers to lose trust in the company. In some cases, data breaches can also result in legal action being taken against the organization.
5 Ways Data Breaches Occur
- Exploiting vulnerabilities: Cybercriminals can exploit weaknesses in systems or networks to gain access to sensitive data.
- Phishing: Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that involves tricking people into disclosing sensitive information, such as login credentials or credit card numbers. Attackers will often use email or instant messaging to impersonate a trusted entity and lure victims into clicking on a malicious link or opening an attachment.
- Malware: Short for malicious software, malware is any type of code or program that is designed to damage, disrupt or gain unauthorized access to a computer system.
- Brute force attack: A brute force attack is a type of cyber attack in which an attacker tries to guess passwords or passphrases in order to gain access to a system.
- Physical theft: In some cases, data breaches can occur through physical means, such as when laptops or other devices containing sensitive information are stolen.
Risks Associated with a Data Breach
Data breaches can cause a variety of problems, including:
- Financial Losses: A data breach can result in direct financial losses for a company, including the cost of notifying customers or employees, investigating the breach and providing credit monitoring services.
- Legal Action: A company that suffers a data breach may also be subject to legal action. In the US, for example, a company that experiences a data breach may be subject to lawsuits under state and federal laws such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- Regulatory Action: A company that suffers a data breach may also be subject to regulatory action. In the US, for example, the Federal Trade Commission has taken action against companies that have experienced data breaches.
- Damage to reputation: A data breach can also damage a company’s reputation, even if the company is not legally liable for the breach. Customers may be less likely to do business with a company that has experienced a data breach, and investors may be less likely to invest in a company with a damaged reputation.