Every battle in history has been known for its tactical approach, attacks & sacrifices. No two battles in history have been alike. The warfare in the cyberspace has followed the same modus operandi. Data Breaches can be termed as the modern-day, digital invasions that have led to the loss of information, trust & reputation of big firms. These data breaches have cost them a fortune and continue to be most common yet dangerous cyber-attacks.
Technically, Data Breach is defined as, ‘A release of confidential & vulnerable data or sensitive data into an unsecured environment’. Data breaches can occur accidentally or the aftermath of a cyber-attack. The world’s biggest tech companies, retailers, hospitality providers, every sector has suffered massive data breaches. Compromised data of million users containing private records & sensitive information, affects not just the organization, but also everyone whose personal information may have been stolen.
Imagine your personal diary is stolen and all your confidential & personal information contained within is exposed, without your authorization. Data Breaches can be understood in a similar context, but they contain a lot of vulnerable data of millions of users that are connected. The data is stolen without the owner or organization’s consent and used fraudulently. In 2016, Facebook suffered a massive data breach that exposed the private data of 87 million users on the platform. Identity frauds, making money by duplicating credit cards, abusing data by using predictive models and others are often the aftermath of a data breach of the affected groups or individuals.
CAUSES OF DATA BREACH
An outside intrusion or a cyber-attack are often assumed to be the root cause of a data breach. This might not be the case every time. Cyber-attacks & data breaches can also be a malicious insider or a disgruntled ex-employee. There are several other causes of data breaches –
- Human Error – To err is human, but these errors have impacted organizations, massively. According to a new study conducted, Human error accounts for 52% of security breaches of organizations and businesses. Advanced level of employee training on Cyber Security is needed to address the “human firewall” issue, in the current scenario.
The need for being cautious along with keeping up the upcoming advancements and attacking tactics should be the plan for every company. Errors & vulnerabilities are easy targets and can be avoided with a strong security deployment plan.
- Insider Misuse – Human error can be accidental in nature, but an insider misuse is a deliberate act of creating security issues & attack the data stored. This person can be termed as a ‘Malicious Insider’ that purposely accesses or shares data with the intent of causing harm to the organization. They may carry a legitimate authorization of accessing the data, but the unlawful intent and malicious practises used, classifies it a cyber-attack.
Tesla suffered a data theft which was inflicted by an employee who claimed to alter the Tesla Manufacturing Operating System using false credentials and exported highly sensitive information from the systems and shared it with unnamed outsiders. The confidential information included financial data, manufacturing processes & photographs of the upcoming projects.
- Insufficient Security Measures – Over the years, hackers have exploited vulnerabilities that are caused due to weak resistance strategy. However, these vulnerabilities can go undetected and unfixed for a long time. Leaving these old security vulnerabilities unfixed gives hackers an easy way-out to a company’s most sensitive information.
In 2017, Equifax suffered a data breach that exposed the data of 147 million customers. The security incident took place because of human error. It started with hackers searching for web servers with vulnerabilities and they hit the jackpot because Equifax’s dispute portal was vulnerable. They attacked using Apache Struts vulnerability, which Equifax forgot to fix and through this, hackers gained credentials of three servers and started stealing information.
Credits – Heimdal Security
- Malware – Malware can be defined as the various forms of infected software, such as viruses & ransomware. If present, this infected software can destroy all sorts of files present on your system, along with taking control over its working. They can monitor all your actions & can also send all the confidential data from the victim’s system to the attacker’s system.
According to Verizon DBIR, malware attacks happen every 5 minutes. There are several methods to get malware into the attacker’s system. To diversify and evolve these attacks, minor modifications to existing malware programs are implemented. This is done to make them unrecognizable to the antiviruses while still produce the intended effect by the hacker.
IMPACTS OF DATA BREACH
In this digital revolution, our personal information is out there somewhere on plenty of different platforms and in various formats. But here’s the bad news, no company is 100% secure from a data & security breach. Cyber Attacks have led to some devastating impacts on the affected organization.
Businesses are developing security practises, but vulnerabilities still exist and every day new attacking methods are being launched which hasn’t stopped outsiders from accessing sensitive data. In addition to compromised security and infiltration of the company’s network, data breaches come with a variety of negative consequences.
Credits – Heimdal Security
- Tarnished Reputation – A good reputation is the most prized possession of an organization or an individual. 46 per cent of organizations says they suffered damage to their reputation and brand value as a result of a cybersecurity breach.
Before the wide-spread Internet, businesses may have been able to recover more quickly, without suffering the damage in their reputation. In recent days, news of a data breach travels far and wide within minutes. This risks the trust as these companies are putting consumers on edge and instilling a sense of mistrust that businesses can secure sensitive information and data.
- Legal Short-Comings – Whenever a data breach occurs, legal settlements & imposed fines on the organizations. Government penalties and civil suits that follow a data breach ensue a heavy price tag on the organization, which has obligated to make cyber-security, the top priority.
Top companies including Target, British Airways, and Equifax have paid out tens of millions of dollars in consumer class & settlements. Lawsuits and thousands of hours of attorney time increase an organization’s total legal costs exponentially, after a data breach.
- Financial Impact – Data breaches can cause devastating financial losses and affect an organization. PWC’s survey stated, that 87 per cent of consumers are willing to move their business elsewhere if, or when, a data breach occurs.
Data breaches have extensive consequences on the affected organizations. From lost business to brand value, excessive regulatory fines and remediation costs, it jeopardizes the company in every possible way.
It’s not all doom & gloom here, your data safety still lies in your control. Undertaking precautionary measures and deploying an intrusion detection & prevention policy can help in avoiding data breaches at a certain extent.
‘A stitch in time saves nine’ – this classic saying is prevalent in today’s technology-driven world. Taking precautions and ensuring a rock-solid security strategy can help you and your company is securing its information assets along with its reputation.
Bulwark CyberX aims to secure and protect your information, People & Reputation.