What is a Data Breach?
Data breaches occur when sensitive or confidential information is accessed, stolen, or disclosed by an unauthorized person or entity. These breaches can occur in various forms, such as hacking, phishing, social engineering, malware attacks, or physical theft. Any information stored by an organization is up for grabs in these security incidents. This information can include customers' personal information, financial information, user accounts, or trade secrets.
Data breaches affect companies of all shapes, sizes, and industries. Recent data breaches are a strong indicator that no company is immune. They affect well-known brands such as Uber, AT&T, and Amazon. These failures are permanently etched into lists of data breaches on the internet showing up in search results, damaging future business.
Why Does Preventing Data Breaches Matter?
Data breaches have severe consequences for organizations. According to IBM, a single data security breach costs companies $9.44 million in the US alone. This does not even include the less tangible costs of lost revenue and customers due to concerns over how a company protects its data.
When considering the full scope of damages from a data breach, there are a number of factors to consider:
- Financial losses - Significant direct financial losses are due to the cost of recovering lost data, compensating affected customers, legal fees, and regulatory fines.
- Identity theft - Criminals can use stolen data to commit identity theft, open new credit lines, or make unauthorized purchases.
- Reputation damage - Data breaches can lead to negative publicity, damaging companies’ reputations and eroding customer trust.
- Legal penalties - Companies failing to protect sensitive data may face legal penalties and fines. The damages multiply if they are found to have violated data protection regulations such as GDPR, SOX, or HIPAA.
- Business disruptions - Data breaches can disrupt business operations, resulting in downtime, lost productivity, and revenue. This unproductive time is due to teams working to mitigate damage and prevent whatever led to the loss from re-occurring.
- Loss of intellectual property - Cybercriminals steal intellectual property, such as patents, trade secrets, and confidential research, damaging a company’s competitive advantage.
- Preventative costs - Companies that suffer a breach may be required to invest in additional security measures to prevent future breaches. These measures can be costly, especially if done on mandated timelines to maintain compliance or meet legal mandates.
Data breaches have far-reaching consequences that extend far beyond the initial incident. They end up affecting the company and its customers, employees, and stakeholders. Implementing appropriate data protection measures to avoid them and mitigate their impact is crucial for a robust data security program.
How Do Data Breaches Happen?
Data breaches are caused by several factors, from malicious actors to well-meaning employee mistakes. IBM research estimates that almost 95% of data breaches are rooted in employee mistakes, even involving malicious actors.
When the cause is a malicious actor, some common attack patterns lead to data breaches:
- Direct Attack - Malicious actors take advantage of vulnerabilities in the IT organization and use them to gain escalated privileges or avoid security controls. In some cases, the attackers capitalize on mistakes in implementation or management. In others, they directly leverage novel attacks and vulnerabilities that organizations cannot prepare for.
- Malware - Attackers leverage malicious software to infiltrate computers or networks to steal sensitive information or create tunnels granting them access to internal networks. These attacks can include ransomware that exfiltrates sensitive data while locking it from legitimate access.
- Insider threats - Internal users such as employees or contractors misuse their legitimate access to systems to steal sensitive information. These cybercriminals are challenging to detect as their access to data may appear normal and not stand out to detection-based controls looking for signs of external attack.
- Physical theft - Criminals stealing physical devices such as laptops, mobile phones, or hard drives from employees working remotely or traveling can quickly gain access to the sensitive information they contain.
When it comes to data breaches stemming from employee mistakes, the breach could likely have been avoided had the organization been aware of its data’s risky position.
One way in which data breaches stem from mistakes is when inadequate access controls are in place. Data may be over-exposed when permissions are too lax, and individuals have access to sensitive information that is unnecessary for their job functions. Similarly, data may also be left in locations accessible to unauthorized individuals can access it without any authentication or effort.
Misconfigurations that lead to data breaches may occur when IT assets are initially configured. Failure to follow best practices or account for all aspects of how other cloud or network assets are configured can expose data or make it easier for attackers to gain access.
Failure to maintain systems adequately can also make it easier for cybercriminals to lead successful attacks. Systems not patched promptly may have easily identified vulnerabilities that cyber attackers can exploit, allowing them access to systems that may otherwise have been too well secured to attack.
Alternatively, some human mistakes are unpredictable. Cybercriminals may target employees using phishing attacks to trick well-intentioned employees into revealing confidential information or inadvertently granting access to them. Additionally, employees make mistakes and may send emails with sensitive information to the wrong recipients or share data with individuals who should not have access, leading to a data breach.
How to Prevent Data Breaches?
Dig Security's complete data security strategy enables organizations to discover, classify, protect, and govern their cloud data to prevent data breaches. Dig uses a unique combination of assessment and monitoring to create a comprehensive solution to protect a company’s data. Dig Security’s powerful and comprehensive platform is the only solution that provides data risk visibility in real-time to help you locate, classify, and prioritize data risk in multiple public cloud environments. Dig provides both cost and productivity efficiencies to reduce the data attack surface, understand risks associated with all assets, and rapidly respond to threats.
Dig Security’s data security posture management (DSPM) and data detection and response (DDR) capabilities provide significant advantages over traditional security solutions. These advanced technologies redefine data security for the modern enterprise, enhancing security while reducing the burden on IT and security teams.
Dig cloud-native and completely agentless approach combines Data Security Posture Management (DSPM), Data Loss Prevention (DLP), and Data Detection & Response (DDR) into a single platform.
Dig’s data security platform is a game changer in preventing data breaches. It provides organizations with a comprehensive data security strategy tailored to the unique needs of today’s organizations around cloud security. By leveraging advanced technologies, Dig Security reduces the chance of data breaches and minimizes their impact. It improves security controls so organizations can protect sensitive data and prevent potential data breaches or ransomware attacks.