The average cost of a data breach in 2019 was around $4 million per company. It was a record year, further demonstrating the growing problem of data breaches. What’s even more disturbing, these figures don’t include mega breaches that happened at Capital One, Equifax, Marriott, and other newsworthy attacks.
But your company doesn’t have to be a victim. You can avoid data breaches. Read on to discover the most common causes of data breaches and what companies can do to prevent them from happening.
Why do Data Breaches happen? 7 Common Causes
1) Unpatched Software
Billions of people use Windows daily. Hundreds of millions use Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other forms of social media. Tens of millions use apps, play games, and do other things either on their computer or smartphone.
Hackers are targeting these critical features of everyday life. They exploit vulnerabilities to gain access to personal data. Reputable developers work hard to prevent hacks from happening. But if you don’t upgrade or patch your software, it’s like giving fraudsters a free pass to steal your data.
2) Social Engineering
In social engineering attacks, cyber criminals convince you to divulge your sensitive information, including login credentials. They use a variety of tactics. In some cases, they may use spoofing to pretend to be a known contact, such as a company you do business with.
They may ask for a payment or something innocuous like a previous invoice statement for accounting records. Then they use the information to gain access to your network or your business accounts.
3) Human Error
Sometimes you can do everything right, but one small mistake can leave your entire company susceptible to a significant data breach. It is the most frustrating thing about data security. Human error accounts for over 50 % of all security breaches. Errors may vary, but familiar scenarios include:
- Sharing information with the wrong recipients
- Using weak passwords
- Clicking on infected files or links
- Sharing account information
- Leaving important files unencrypted
4) Network Attack
Network attacks tend to be more sophisticated. Cyber criminals use systems or infrastructure weaknesses to break into the network. In some cases, they use social engineering. They also may take advantage of unsecured network protocols to monitor network activity and gain access. Whatever way they gain access, it puts your entire company at risk.
Malware is everywhere on the internet. This threat is expanding and harms both personal and business devices. According to Verizon, five malware events happen every second. While most are minor, there is an incredible amount of malware variation.
Even if your computer can protect against 99.99% of malware, it’s only a matter of time until one may get past your antivirus software.
6) Insider Misuse
The human error implies an innocent mistake. But some people may deliberately misuse authorized entry for personal gain. It can be challenging to catch insider abuse. You can also not notice these events for an extended amount of time.
In many examples, companies discover insider misuse during an examination of user devices after employees leave the company. For this reason, even with trusted employees, routine audits may be necessary. It’s the only way to make sure nothing suspicious is happening.
7) Physical Theft or Network Infiltration
Although most threats are digital, severe issues also exist in the real world. Thefts of laptops, smartphones, USB drives, and servers represent a severe security risk.
Thefts can occur both in the work environment, at home, and in other locations. When these happen, you can never be sure whether it’s an opportunistic event or something more malicious in nature. In both cases, if fraudsters penetrate a device, your company data is at risk.
How to Protect Your Business from Data Breaches
Data security begins at the top. All companies, regardless of industry or size, need to have a strict cybersecurity policy. You can diminish the risk of a data breach by doing the following:
Educate employees on the importance of digital hygiene. Enforce using strong passwords, MFA, updating all devices and apps, and so on. Be sure to encourage open discussion of suspicious activity. The sooner you catch a threat, the less damage it can do.
Restrict user permissions to only what’s necessary to perform work responsibilities.
Audit all visitors both physically in your building along with those who have guest network access.
Cybersecurity can make or break a business. 60% of small businesses fail within six months of a data breach. Arm yourself with the latest technology and insider strategy to make sure your company isn’t one of them.
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