What is a Data Breach?

There were 3,950 confirmed data breaches in 2020. Is your data really that safe? Learn how to take preventive measures against data breaches. 

Table of Contents

A data breach is a term used to define any incident that exposes confidential, protected, or sensitive information to an unauthorized person. It can be as simple as an employee viewing a file they were not supposed to, which was accidentally left on a desk, to sophisticated malware attacks that steal thousands of personal records.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the cost of data breaches. As of 2021, the average total cost of a data breach had increased by nearly 10% to $4.24 million from $3.86 million.

So how often do data breaches happen? Well, in today’s world, data breach attacks are becoming more widespread due to people’s reliance on digital data, cloud computing, and the need for a remote workforce. 

A recent data breach study showed that hackers attack computers every 39 seconds. That means that about 2,244 times a day, someone is trying to gain access to your computer.

Furthermore, the worst part about data breach attacks isn’t that they occur, but rather the fact that you cannot tell the full impact of the data breach attack until it is over.

Data breaches can either occur by accident or as an intentional attack to gather information for malicious purposes. Most data breach attacks that occur are usually motivated by malicious purposes.

The attackers usually look for sensitive information such as personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets, intellectual property, or financial information for personal gain. 

Whatever the motive might be, it can wind up costing your organization millions of dollars in damages. But how do data breaches occur?

Looking to prevent Data Breaches?

What Causes A Data Breach?

Data breaches are inevitable. Every system has a vulnerability, and eventually, someone is going to find it. To better protect any system from data breach attacks, it is essential that you understand what exactly would cause a data breach in the first place. Let us look at several primary causes.

Human Error

Could you guess what percent of data breaches are caused by human error? More than half? You’d be slightly off by quite a bit.

About 88%, according to a study at Stanford University. That means that over three-quarters of companies found in a data breach are due to employee mistakes.

Numerous IT experts have claimed that employees are the biggest threat to data security in a company. Just try to imagine how many data breaches are caused by employees’ mistakes.

You’d be surprised how many employees fall for phishing attacks, a whopping 45% inadvertently clicked on that sneaky link which led to 241,324 phishing incidents in 2020.  

Stolen/Weak Credentials

Passwords are one of the most common ways people use to protect their systems. The scope on how well your password will protect your system will depend on its strength and how carefully you guard it.

However, quite a lot of people use weak passwords that are a walk in the park for even the novice hacker to crack. Would you believe the most commonly used passwords include; 123456, 111111, and yep you guessed it, even the word “password”.

A lot of people also write down their passwords for easier memory (38.6% to be exact). Weak passwords are what cybercriminals thrive on. They make their job so much easier as they are given all the access they need to cause a significant data breach.

Malware

Malware is a type of malicious software or program used to harm a computer and gain access to a network or device. Malware kits are pretty easy to obtain on the dark web.

For “only” $6,000 a determined hacker can install it in a targeted system and watch the malware do its work. Malware also accounts for over 34% of cyber attacks. 

Malware can lead to both data and identity theft and can go undetected for long periods of time – up to several months or even close to a year.

The amount of data and financial loss can have severe consequences on an organization, particularly smaller ones who might not have the resources needed to combat the attack.

Organizations might also want to consider implementing a Zero Trust approach to limit or restrict user access to certain websites or applications.

Application Vulnerabilities

We all have various applications on our devices. In fact, the average person has about 40 apps installed on their smartphone at any given time.

Applications also contain vulnerabilities. Any one of them can contain a malicious file or link to open or download which can easily lead to a data breach.

This is why it is so important to update your applications and only download apps that are familiar to you.When a software programmer fixes an issue, they put in a patch sent to a user.

Nonetheless, delaying or failing to install this software can leave at the risk of a data breach attack. Outdated software lets an attacker know that there might be plenty of vulnerabilities in earlier versions of an application that they can exploit.

Thus having unpatched applications can assist in causing a data breach in your device.

Social Engineering

Social engineering involves using psychological manipulation to cause a data breach. In this situation, the attacker tricks the user into giving them personal information of free will. These attacks work by the perpetrator, pretending to be someone a user would trust, and then uses this advantage to perform a data breach attack.

Social engineering attacks have increased from 20,000 to 30,000 per day since the pandemic began. Attackers have been relying on old-school phishing tactics to lure victims into their traps. And the scary thing is how “authentic” these phishing emails appear. 

Hackers use familiar sites such as Amazon and PayPal to launch their scams. A quick tip is to always pay close attention to the sender’s email as they will usually contain bogus or misspelled letters (i.e. “g00gle” instead of “Google”).

Stolen Devices

When most people think of data breaches, the first thing that comes to their mind is cybercrimes. However, while malware is one the most common ways to cause data breach attacks, physical attacks are more than capable of causing severe data breaches.

When property such as documents, laptops, P.C.s, smartphones, USB drives, and hard drives containing sensitive information is stolen, it can lead to a data breach.

Nonetheless, the extent of the data breach will depend heavily on the nature of the information stored in the documents or devices stolen.

Always lock up offices and employee workstations when you leave for the day and make sure all of your data is safely backed up in the event of a breach. 

Never let any visitor into your office without proper identification. Use end-to-end encryption when sending sensitive information such as credit card numbers or banking details.

3 Different Types of Data Breaches

There are three major types of data breaches that can occur on a system. The main difference between the types of data breaches comes in how they are executed.

Physical

As the name suggests, this type of data breach involves the physical theft of documents or equipment that may contain sensitive or confidential information. The equipment may include laptops, point-of-sale equipment, smartphones, hard drives, or other physical equipment used to store data. This type of breach is also referred to as corporate espionage. 

Electronic

An electronic data breach involves maliciously accessing a system or network through their web servers or websites. Since both the web servers and websites are usually available through the internet, it makes them easily accessible and in danger of data breaches. Denial of service attacks (DDoS), code injection, and man-in-the-middle attacks, are just a few examples of electronic data attacks.

Skimming

Skimming describes the process of recording the information from the magnetic strip found in the back of credit cards. There are usually two ways skimming can be done. 

The first method involves installing an external device on point-of-sale equipment without the knowledge of the merchant. The second method is usually executed by a malicious employee who utilizes an external device to collect the magnetic strip data.

This data will then be used to create counterfeit credit cards, and the owner will be no wiser until weird expenses start appearing on their credit card bill.

What Is An Email Data Breach?

Email is part of our everyday lives. In 2020, an estimated 306.4 billion emails were sent and received. Thus it seems natural that emails would become the primary target for malicious attacks, especially with all the traction that emails get each day.

Email data breaches are becoming quite commonplace in the business world. 1 in 4 companies experienced an email data breach last year. Phishing threats, the main types of attack targeted at emails, increased by 600% in 2020.

An email data breach can be caused by something as simple as cc’ing the wrong person to an email. A major phishing scam hit the FACC in 2016 which resulted in the loss of €42 million after an email data breach occurred and the CEO’s email was used to request funds from an employee. 

To protect your email from breaches, it is a good idea to conduct an email data breach check regularly. Luckily enough, there are now websites that allow you to check your email address for a data breach. 

One such site is renowned cybersecurity expert Troy Hunt’s Have I Been Pwned which allows you to perform a quick check on your email address or domain. Simply enter your email address, and soon enough, you will find out whether you have been pwned or not.

If you happen to be pwned, make sure that you change your email password as well as the password of the domain service where you experienced the breach.

Looking to prevent Data Breaches?

What Is The Cost of a Data Breach?

Data breaches are expensive. Even the slightest data breach can set a company back hundreds of thousands of dollars, and this cost is rising with every passing year.

So how much does a data breach cost a company in 2021? Well, according to the Ponemon Institute Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average cost of a data breach is $4.24 million, which is a 10% increase from last year’s $3.86 million. 

Healthcare is being hit the hardest with an average cost of $9.23 million. Needless to say, when dealing with Protected Health Information (PHI), one should be familiar and up-to-date with HIPAA Compliance to avoid sensitive patient information from leaking and from costly penalties.

How Much Your Data Costs On The Dark Web

For years the dark web has been the go-to place for entrepreneurial cybercriminals to expand their criminal empire. A stolen email address can be purchased for less than $2 and a complete medical record for about $1,000.

Data breaches are just a single convenient click away, especially with the amount of data lurking out there on the dark web, such as a Collection #1 data breach.

You may be wondering, “What is the Collection #1 data breach?” Well, it is a perfect example of breached data sold on the dark web.

Labeled the mother of breaches, the Collection #1 data breach is a database that was found circulating in popular hacking forums on the dark web. It contained over 770 million unique email addresses and 21 million unique passwords, making it one of the most significant public data breaches in history.

The funny part is that the hacker for this collection offered to sell it for a mere $45.Breached data sold on the dark web contain various price tags; for example, online banking credentials will usually go for about $40, while full credit card details with data costing will cost you something between $14-$30.

A hacked Facebook account will set you back $75 while a Gmail account $80. This is what your personal information is worth on the dark web. Scary thought.

What Are The Consequences of a Data Breach?

More often than not, a data breach comes with a lot of damage for companies and individuals alike.

Not only do you have to mourn the loss of your sensitive information being in unauthorized hands and the money you will lose trying to recover from the breach, but also a host of other repercussions.

Data breach reputation damage is one of the many consequences of a data breach. A data breach tells outsiders that you cannot protect your data or you do not take data security seriously.

Moreover, consider the legal consequences of a data breach. Every organization that collects and stores data is legally required to take appropriate measures to protect the data.

Compliance regulations such as GDPR, for instance, protect EU citizens’ personal data while certifications such as the HITRUST CSF demonstrate that vendors in the healthcare industry are meeting specific HIPAA and cybersecurity criteria. 

Every legislation usually has its laws of data protection, and the consequences of breaching data protection legislation can be anything from hefty fines or jail time.

How Can Companies Prevent Data Breaches?

A company data breach can be devastating and brings a lot of damage in its wake. Just think what happens if a company breaches the Data Protection Act. Reputational damage and having the company fined for data protection breaches are a few examples of the problems that can occur. For this reason, the best way to deal with a data breach is to have a good defense. Let us look at a few ways companies can prevent a potential data breach:

  • Restrict access to the most valuable data using Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA)
  • Enforce strict security policies throughout your organization
  • Train and educate your employees on cybersecurity awareness
  • Develop a solid data breach incident response plan
  • Regularly audit and reevaluate your security policy and exposure
  • Have strict password guidelines and require team members to change passwords often

A VPN Accesses Websites that are Blocked

Certain countries, such as China, Iran, Russia, Turkey, and Egypt block a lot of content on the web. If you happen to live in or visit those countries for business or pleasure, you will be able to access content from anywhere in the world without the worry of anyone knowing about it. 

Data Protection Breach By An Employee

Many security experts claim that employees are the weakest link when it comes to cyber security. Lack of security awareness training can lead to employee negligence and eventually a breach. This becomes more of an issue today when nearly 1 out of every 4 Americans are working from home. In fact, a recent survey found that over 50% of remote workers don’t require a password to connect to their home Wi-Fi network.

It is extremely important to ensure that all your staff are educated on security policies and data protection to prevent any unintentional breaches, whether they are at the office or working from a cafe in the center of town. For that reason alone, Perimeter 81 offers Automatic Wi-FI Security, to protect against weak and compromised Wi-Fi hotspots. Data is heavily secured from malicious actors with 256-bit bank level encryption.   

31% of data breaches result in employees being fired. It should come as a given to ensure that all fired or resigned employees are immediately removed from the system and not allowed access again. You must also conduct thorough pre-employment screening to prevent hiring individuals who may pose a risk to your data.

In the event a breach occurs, your first step should be to inform all the necessary parties as demanded by law and ensure you get a security party to figure out how the breach occurred and what was breached. The guilty party can then be dealt with accordingly.

What Is The Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act?

In 2019, Senators Mark R. Warner and Elizabeth Warren were determined to introduce a new data breach legislation termed the Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act of 2019.

The legislation demanded the formation of an Office of Cybersecurity within the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that would be responsible for annual supervision and examinations of the data security of credit reporting agencies.

Any breach of the data protection act by the employer would lead to the Office imposing mandatory and strict liability penalties to ensure adequate protection of consumers’ data.

Data Breach Laws – What You Need To Know

Data protection is required by law. For this simple fact, numerous governments have put in place data security breach notification laws to protect their citizen’s data.

Data breach notification laws compel organizations subjected to a data breach to notify their customers within 72 hours whose data has been compromised. Failure to notify within the given time frame can result in severe penalties. 

While there may not be a federal data breach notification law in the United States, each of the 50 states has its own breaching data protection laws in place. Other U.S. data breach notification laws that are usually heavily enforced include:

  • The HIPAA Breach Notification Rules require HIPAA-covered organizations and associates to notify in the event of a breach of protected health information.
  • The FTC Health Breach Notification Rule requires any health-related businesses not under HIPAA regulation to notify relevant parties in the event of a data breach of electronic health information.

How To Avoid a Data Breach Lawsuit

It is not unusual for company data breach incidents to end up in class-action lawsuits. Data breach lawsuit settlements more often than not usually reach six-figure amounts or more in the case of Equifax, who had the misfortune of shelling out $380 million. 

Thus recovering from data breach lawsuit damages can cost you quite a lot. Here are a few measures you can take to reduce the chances of a data breach lawsuit:

  • Have a solid data breach response plan in place. This is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid a data breach lawsuit in the event of one.
  • Follow data breach notification laws and inform your customers and other relevant parties immediately of a data breach is vital in helping you avoid a lawsuit.
  • Choose your words wisely. While it is crucial to inform all relevant parties of a data breach, everything you say can and will be used against you, especially if you go to court, so watch what you say.
  • Offer protection measures for your customers. Offering protection measures such as identity theft protection and credit monitoring services can go a long way in helping you prevent a data breach lawsuit.

Looking to prevent Data Breaches?

List of Major Data Breaches – 16 Companies Who Paid a Hefty Price

Every 39 seconds, a new cybersecurity attack takes place. While some data breaches may affect only a small number of people, some of the biggest data breaches in history have affected millions of people at a time. Let us look at some of the major data breaches in history that have serious consequences.

Facebook Data Breach 2021

In April 2021, the personal information of over 533 million Facebook users in 106 countries was leaked on the dark web. Hackers took advantage of a vulnerability in Facebook’s contact importer feature (now defunct).

The Facebook data protection breach resulted in personal information such as phone numbers, full names, dates of birth, bios, locations, and email addresses being accessed by bad actors.

While Facebook was able to find this vulnerability and fix it in August 2019, it failed to inform its users of the data breach until the online leak happened.

The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook a whopping $5 billion for violating their agreement to protect their users’ privacy. The Facebook data breach settlement is one of the most extensive penalties the FTC has fined a company.

Facebook Cambridge Analytica Data Breach

Yet another data breach involving the social media giant resulted in the personal information of over 87 million Facebook users being harvested by an external app without their permission in 2015. 

The external app which belonged to the now-defunct company, Cambridge Analytica, a political analytics firm, was harvesting this data intending to target U.S. voters in the 2016 presidential elections and British Brexit voters.

The Facebook Cambridge Analytica Data Breach resulted in Facebook having to pay the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) a fine of £500,000 for mishandling their users’ data and the part they played in Cambridge Analytica harvesting their user’s data.

LinkedIn Data Breach 2021

This year, LinkedIn experienced a massive data breach that resulted in the exposure of 700 million users. Considering that the business networking powerhouse has 756 million users, this translated to 92% of their users’ database. The leak included personal information such as full names, phone numbers, physical addresses, email addresses, personal and professional experiences, backgrounds, gender, geolocation records, LinkedIn usernames, and profile URLs.

The hackers responsible for the LinkedIn data breach initially posted data on 1 million LinkedIn users on a dark web forum to entice buyers and offered the whole database for $5,000. According to RestorePrivacy’s CEO Sven Taylor, who discovered the leak, the data was obtained by exploiting the LinkedIn API

We reached out directly to the user who is posting the data up for sale on the hacking forum. He claims the data was obtained by exploiting the LinkedIn API to harvest information that people upload to the site.”

Nonetheless, LinkedIn claims the data was obtained through the scraping of the social networking site and other websites rather than a data breach.

Drizly Data Breach 2021

Drizly is a company that operates an e-commerce platform that delivers alcohol. Last year, Drizly faced a class-action suit after a data breach resulted in an unidentified party gaining access to its customers’ PII, including email addresses, delivery addresses, hashed passwords, phone numbers, and IP addresses.The data breach lawsuit claimed Drizly’s security had not put up enough measures to protect consumers’ information. Upon settlement, the Drizzly data breach lawsuit amounted to a $7.1 million settlement.

Zoom Data Breach 2020

Since the pandemic, Zoom has become the go-to video communication platform for both business and personal meetings. Zoom was involved in a credential stuffing hack at the start of April 2020. In the Zoom data breach, hackers stole information from over half a million Zoom accounts, which were then offered on the dark web for free or for less than a penny ($0.0020 per account, to be exact).

The hackers had obtained usernames, passwords, email addresses, host keys, and personal meeting URLs. They were giving them off for practically no charge so that they may be used for zoom-bombing pranks and other malicious activities.

Robinhood Data Breach 2020

In early October 2020, Robinhood, a stock trading and investing app, claimed that a limited number of accounts had been compromised. Two weeks later, the numbers had risen to about 2,000 compromised accounts. As a result of the Robinhood Data Breach, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) fined the major investing app $57 million and an additional $12.6 million in restitution to affected customers for causing substantial harm to several of its customers.

Capital One Data Breach 2019

In 2019, Capital One faced one of the biggest data breaches when 106 million of the bank’s credit holders had confidential data stolen. The hack, which was believed to have been caused by Paige Thompson, a former Amazon software engineer, revealed 140,000 social security numbers, 80,000 bank account numbers, and 1 million Canadian social security numbers. 

The hackers are said to have exploited a weakness in the company’s infrastructure to obtain sensitive information. There were 18,000 published vulnerabilities in 2020 which is a major concern among security and IT professionals. The Capital One data breach resulted in federal and state investigations, which the bank eventually settled for $80 million.

British Airways Data Breach 2018

In 2018, British Airways experienced a major data breach that resulted in the exposure of the sensitive data of over 420,000 customers. This data was obtained through a malicious code that was present in the British Airways’ website and app. 

Anyone thought to have made bookings between August 21 and September 5, 2018, were likely affected by the data breach.Because of the British Airways data breach, the ICO fined the airline a £20 million fine for failing to protect their users’ confidential data.

Google Data Breach 2018

In January 2018, during a security check, the search giant discovered that their now defunct social networking site Google+ had a bug which allowed third-party apps to access the private data of over 500,00 users between 2015-2018. 

Once the issue was discovered, Google was quick to fix it and refrained from telling their users. It wasn’t until the Wall Street Journal reported the breach in October 2018 that it became public, and as a result, Google stated that it would shut down Google+ in August 2019.

Later in November, a software update in Google+ resulted in another data leak. This time exposing the data of 52.5 million people. The breach resulted in Google speeding up the shutdown date to April 2019. Furthermore, Google agreed to pay a total of $7.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over the breach.

Marriott Data Breach 2018

Marriott International, one of the world’s most prominent hotels, experienced a massive data breach when the reservation systems of its Starwood brands hotel were compromised. 

In September 2018, an internal security tool discovered an attempt to try and get into Starwood’s reservation database. Marriott immediately enlisted the services of a cybersecurity expert to figure out what was wrong.

The hotel company soon discovered that 500 million guest records had been copied, encrypted, and removed by an unauthorized party.

The breach is believed to have begun in 2014, and anyone who made a reservation before the breach was discovered was likely affected. Consequently, Marriott was fined £99 million by the ICO for failing to protect British Rights under the GDPR.

MyFitnessPal Data Breach 2017

MyFitnessPal is a popular fitness tracking app that also experienced a data breach in February 2018. The breach resulted in the exposure of 150 million accounts. Their data was then found on the dark web a year later with an asking price of $20,000 for the entire dataset.

Once the company was aware of the data breach, it quickly notified its users and promptly began working with data security firms to help in their investigations.

Equifax Data Breach 2017

The Equifax data breach is one of the most significant data breaches in history. It occurred in September 2017, when Equifax reported that the confidential data of 147 million Americans had been breached. 

As a result, Equifax faced several class-action suits and charges due to the data breach. The Equifax data breach settlement has resulted in the company paying $700 million to settle federal and state investigations.

However, the payments did not end there. If you look at Equifax’s data breach settlement time frame, the company has incurred over $1.7 billion in costs to settle the 2017 data breach.

Home Depot Data Breach 2014

In 2014, Home Depot experienced a massive data breach when the credit and debit card information of 56 million people from the U.S and Canada, as well as 53 million email addresses, were harvested by a hacker. 

The breach occurred when the hackers used the vendor’s stolen log-on credentials to gain access to Home Depot’s network and installed malware on its point-of-sale equipment, which they then used to gather information.

The Home Depot data breach eventually caused the company to pay a $17.5 million settlement to 47 U.S. states, including an agreement to better their security.

Uber Data Breach 2014

In May 2014, an unauthorized person gained access to the personal data of Uber drivers. The data breach resulted in the names and license plates of more than 100,000 drivers from various states. 

The hacker used an AWS access key that an Uber engineer had placed on Github. The key granted the attackers full administrative rights to access a file with the driver’s personal information.

Once the ride sharing titan discovered the breach, it immediately launched investigations to figure out the incident, and it was only in 2015 that it sent breach notifications to its drivers and the FTC.

Yahoo Data Breach 2013

The Yahoo data breach in 2013 resulted in the compromising of 3 billion users’ accounts. That means that everyone who had a Yahoo account in 2013 was likely affected by the breach. 

However, though the breach occurred in 2013, the company waited until 2016 to notify users, which led them to a hefty $35 million fine from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Consequently, the Yahoo data breach led to a two-year class-action suit that eventually ended with the company agreeing to compensate the affected account holders. The Yahoo Data Breach settlement ended, costing the company $50 million.

Target Data Breach 2013

Around the holiday season of 2013, Target faced one the largest data breaches to date when a hacker gained access to the credit and debit card numbers of over 40 million people, along with 70 million addresses and phone numbers.

The target data breach was made possible when hackers stole credentials from a retail giant’s third-party vendor and used the stolen credentials to take advantage of a weakness on Target’s system and gained access to their customer service database. 

The cybercriminals then installed malware that captured the stolen data. The Target data breach resulted in the company paying $18.5 million to settle the multistate investigations from 47 states.

Data Breaches in Cloud Computing

In the age of increased online activity, it comes as no surprise that more people are storing their data on the public cloud, especially post-pandemic where the shift to remote work has become the norm. 

Companies are realizing the stability, flexibility, and cost-saving that the cloud offers them. They are also relying on remote access VPNs to make their transition into the cloud as smooth as possible, whether employees are working from home or from the office. 

However, as more businesses begin storing their sensitive information on the cloud, they face a dangerous risk in the name of cloud storage data breaches. Cloud data breach attacks have risen with alarming numbers as more institutions move their information online. 79% of organizations have experienced a cloud data breach in 2020. Nonetheless, data breaches of public cloud deployments can easily be prevented with the proper security measures in place.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Data Breach

In early August 2018, Salesforce sent out a knowledge email to notify its users that their data stored in its popular Marketing Cloud service may have been accessed by a third party or accidentally corrupted. 

This leak was said to have been the result of an API error in a code that was introduced to the Marketing Cloud during a publication. The error is claimed to have run from June 4th to July 18th.

The bad news for Marketing Cloud users is that Salesforce was unable to confirm whether the data was viewed or modified by another customer, but they did claim they found no evidence of malicious behavior.

Google Cloud Data Breach

A massive Google Cloud data breach resulted in the exposure of sensitive data from Pfizer. This data breach was caused by a misconfiguration of the data stored in the Google Cloud Service, allowing unauthorized access to users’ data.

Sadly this is not the first time Google Cloud has been exposed to sensitive data due to misconfiguration. A survey done by Comparitech on 2,064 Google Cloud buckets found them vulnerable to unauthorized access by users enabling them to list, download and upload documents.

Amazon Cloud Data Breach

Amazon S3 is one of the most popular cloud storage solutions, yet it is responsible for numerous data breaches. It is not unusual anymore to hear security researchers finding open, unprotected S3 buckets leading to data breaches.

Misconfigured S3 buckets are an especially infamous cause of data breaches.Nonetheless, AWS is taking measures to protect their users’ data on the cloud and ensuring that their users can expect an AWS data breach notification in case of any breach.

How To Prevent Data Breaches in The Cloud

Here are a few ways you can help prevent data breaches in the cloud:

  • Educate your staff. An uneducated staff is your most considerable security risk. Having your staff undergo security training on best cloud security practices is the most significant step you can take in protecting your company’s data on the cloud.
  • Have a data backup plan for your cloud resources. Disasters occur without warning. It is absolutely crucial to have a data backup plan to be prepared for the worst. Failure to backup your data can pave the way for an attack. 
  • Use API-based CASB methods. Cloud access security broker (CASB) methods managed by your API allow you to monitor your network’s activity and restrict any high-risk operations. CASB’s also offer threat control and have very stringent encryption standards. 
  • Leveraging data to take action. Using CASB methods comes with the added benefit of monitoring, auditing, and alerting all actions and data on your cloud. This enables you to assess risk and remediate any threats before they become a problem.

Micro-segmentation. This allows you to limit your network communication to those specific areas that need to communicate with each other. Limiting your access to a few devices will go along a long way in mitigating your risk of a data breach.

What Is Data Breach Insurance?

Every business should take advantage of data breach insurance coverage. Cyber liability coverage protects businesses from potential losses due to a breach. Policies vary depending on the amount of employees and other factors. 

Companies can purchase to protect them from the financial losses incurred, such as fines and client lawsuits, during a data breach that causes the loss of PII and PHI.

Does a VPN protect you from hackers? Well, that is the age-old question and one of the main reasons users (both private and business) actually use a VPN. The truth is, a VPN protects you from most criminal cyber activity and attacks that require access to your IP address. When you’re using a VPN, potential hackers can’t see your online activity due to VPN encryption, limiting the possibility of an attack.

Types of Data Breach Insurance Coverage

Although a VPN protects you from attackers requiring your IP address to carry out attacks, you can still receive emails with malicious links containing viruses, and sophisticated hackers still have ways to apply ransomware to your machine. In fact, a new ransomware attack will take place within the next 11 seconds.  

The best security measures include using a VPN together with anti-malware software. The two go hand in hand. You also receive identity theft protection with VPN but need to up your security measures as well.

Healthcare Data Breaches On The Rise

Most of these resulted in PII data breaches of thousands if not millions. Currently, the average cost of a healthcare data breach has reached a record high of $9.23 million, according to the Ponemon Institute. 

According to the HIPAA Journal, the primary cause of data breaches in the healthcare industry is phishing emails, used to conduct patient data security breaches that allow them to get a wealth of information on patients.

This information can then be used to perform malicious acts such as identity theft. Thus it is imperative now more than ever for the healthcare industry to protect patient data.

The consequences of a data breach in healthcare are too high for this matter to be taken lightly.

GDPR Data Breach Notification – How Much GDPR Penalties Can Cost You

GDPR is a privacy and security law drafted and passed by the European Union intended to protect any companies that target or collect data from people in the E.U. 

The GDPR has strict laws and policies that it expects these companies to comply with. One such policy expects companies to report personal data breaches to supervisory authorities and individuals affected within 72 hours of discovering the breach. 

Failing to follow this policy can have dire repercussions for your company, as the GDPR will view it as a violation of the data protection act. It can often lead to fines with the data protection act breach maximum fine, being €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover, whichever is greater, and this is just one of the GDPR consequences of a data breach. 

Thus while it may seem like a lot of work to meet GDPR policies, it is worth it in the long run as it helps you avoid large penalties while also keeping your users’ information safe. A win-win for everyone.

How To Detect a Personal Data Breach

According to a recent Ponemon Institute Report, the average time it takes to detect and contain a data breach is 280 days. To help you shorten this time and detect a personal breach early, here are a few tips on how to spot a data breach:

  • Educate Your Staff – Ensuring your employees go through regular security awareness training will put them in a better position to detect threats. Create safety guides and quizzes to keep your staff up-to-date on the latest threats. 
  • Stay Well-Informed. It is paramount you keep track of the latest cybercrime news. This will keep in handy in recognizing the possible symptoms of a data breach attack on your system.
  • Hire Cybersecurity Experts – Experienced cybersecurity professionals such as CISOs and security analysts will be able to detect threats before they get the chance to escalate. They will also know the proper remediation steps to take in the event of a breach. 
  • Use Data Breach Detection Solutions. Invest in advanced data breach incident detection tools that will be able to quickly detect any abnormalities in your system and alert you promptly.

Password Data Breach Prevention Tips

Employees reuse a password an average of 13 times. And if that’s not bad enough, 59% of organizations rely on human memory to manage passwords.

Malicious actors will take advantage of weak passwords or recycled passwords to gain unauthorized access into systems or networks. We have compiled a list of password data breach prevention tips to help you prevent a password data breach.

  • Create Strong Passwords – The stronger your password, the harder it will be to crack during a password data breach. Include numbers, special characters, uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and change them often. 
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication – Enabling 2FA provides you with an extra layer of protection against a data breach to ensure that only authorized users have access to an account. 
  • Prohibit Password Sharing – Employees who share passwords place the entire organization at risk of a breach. Require employees to create their own unique passwords and login credentials and to never share them with anyone. 

Encrypt Your Data – Using end-to-end encryption can not only help prevent sensitive information from getting into the wrong hands, it can also keep you aligned with compliance regulations such as HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI.

Looking to prevent Data Breaches?

Data Breach Risk Assessment Checklist

If you have been a target of a breach, your company must undergo the proper data breach investigation procedures that will help assess the risk the data breach poses on your users’ rights and with other compliance laws. 

Here are a few questions that will help you assess the risk and costs of compromised data integrity breaches:

  • What type and volume of data were breached, and how sensitive was it?
  • Was the data easily accessible, or were there protections in place to prevent access/misuse?
  • How many people were affected by the breach, and who were they exactly?
  • Do you know who has the data and if they intend to use it for malicious persons?
  • Could the data that was obtained be used to cause harm?

8 Best Practices To Prevent Data Breaches

Here are some surefire ways to prevent data breaches from affecting your company.

  1. Protect Your Hard Copies – Many companies still have a lot of hard copy documents that contain vital information which can cause a lot of damage if accessed by an unauthorized person. These files need to be kept under lock and key to ensure their protection.
  2. Patch Security Flaws – You must make sure that all software and applications are running on the latest versions and to take a step back if necessary before launching any new code to ensure that there are no vulnerabilities. DevSecOps rely on a shift left approach which places emphasis that information security starts from the beginning of the product life cycle. 
  3. Grant Least Privilege Access with Zero Trust – The more people that have access to your sensitive data, the more at risk you are. Ensuring that your employees only have access to devices and documents they need to do their job minimizes your risk. Zero Trust helps eliminate those additional security risks.
  4. Destroy Before Disposal – All information that may contain sensitive details must be destroyed to prevent any unauthorized access. This includes old hardware devices or documentation. You can use a shredder for documents. 
  5. Protect Your Portable Devices – Devices that can be easily transported, such as flash drives, laptops, and hard drives, can easily be stolen, leaving a wealth of information vulnerable. Thus it is necessary to protect them from any unauthorized access.
  6. Perform a Comprehensive Audit On Your Infrastructure – Delegate a team leader or hire an outside auditing firm to inspect your infrastructure. Organizations should also inspect their cloud infrastructure for any security risks. Whether you rely on IaaS or PaaS, you will need an expert to evaluate the safety of your technology and take preventive measures if needed. 
  7. Enforce Access Management Policies – Organizations can turbocharge their security protocols with Identity Access Management (IAM) and System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM) software to help manage identities in the cloud much easier. A huge benefit for IT teams as well. 
  8. Use a Secured Cloud VPN – The most secure and effective way to share and transfer data in the cloud. With more organizations adopting WFH policies comes heightened security risks. A trusted Cloud VPN can help provide safe access for remote workers and ultimately prevent a data breach from occurring as a result.

How Perimeter 81’s Can Prevent a Data Breach

The average cost of a data breach without a Zero Trust approach increases by 42%.

Not only is adopting a Zero Trust approach more cost-effective for organizations, but it can also significantly reduce the number of days to detect a breach. Each second counts when data is being exposed. 

When it comes to data breach prevention, Perimeter 81 takes security to the next level using a proven Zero Trust framework.

Recently named a Forrester New Wave™ ZTNA Leader, Perimeter 81 helps organizations avoid data breaches and reduce TCO with identity-based rules.

Data Breach FAQs

How does a data breach work?
A data breach occurs when a cybercriminal successfully infiltrates a data source and extracts confidential or sensitive information.
What are the major causes of a data breach?
Unauthorized access to a laptop
Phishing  
Human error
Unpatched security vulnerabilities
Insider theft
Stolen credentials
Weak passwords 
Physical device theftprovider (ISP).
What constitutes a data breach?
A data breach describes any cyber attack leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorized disclosure of, or access to, personal data.
How to prevent a data breach?
Limit user access with a Zero Trust approach
Create strong passwords and change them often
Have a data backup plan
Educate your employees 
Ensure all software and applications are up-to-date
Encrypt all data using Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
What are the three types of data breaches?
Physical 
Electronic
Skimming
What is the Collection #1 data breach?
The Collection #1 data breach contained an enormous database of over 773 million impacted emails. The breach was first revealed by renowned cybersecurity expert Troy Hunt.

Looking to prevent Data Breaches?

Simplify your network security today with Perimeter 81

Font Resize