Any idea where the sensitive data within your company goes? Where the medical patient records, the identity information of clients and employees or the lists with contact- and payment details end up? Data breaches are a growing trend. Not the type of trend that is fun, like trends in clothes, food or architecture, but a trend that can actually harm businesses, governments and individuals in ways you can’t comprehend.
What is a data breach?
As our computers and mobile phones get more connective features, there are more places for data to slip through. New technologies are being created faster than we can protect them. When confidential, sensitive or protected information gets exposed to an unauthorized third party, we are talking about a data breach. This means that the data is viewed and shared without permission, which accidentally or intentionally leads to the destruction, loss, change or disclosure of these data. We probably don’t have to explain that this can be a huge problem, with enormous complications as an inevitable result.
Why and how does a data breach happen?
While the assumption is that data breaches are caused by an outside hacker, this is not always true. As a matter of fact, more than 80% of the data breaches happen by accident. Think about losing a smartphone with the names and salaries of employees, sending a confidentional e-mail to the wrong receiver or losing data as a result of a crashed computer that has no back-up? In each of these cases, data got into the wrong hands or is lost forever without malicious intentions.
Although a data breach can be the result of a simple oversight by individuals or flaws in a company’s infrastructure, real damage is possible if the person with unauthorized access steals data to cause harm. Hackers, for example, use methods like phishing, skimming and malware to steal and sell Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or protected corporate data. The effects of these types of data leak can be a lasting issue for your reputation, finances and much more.
Preventing data breaches
Anyone can be at risk of a data breach. Security is only as strong as the weakest link, so every single person that interacts with a system can be a potential vulnerability. Even small children with a tablet on your home network. Limiting access to your data, often updating software, making third party vendors comply, conducting security awareness trainings for employees, developing a cyber breach response plan and regularly changing passwords, are examples of ways to prevent cyber security breaches from occurring within your company.
Keeping the security of your information and data 100% watertight might be hard with the rapid developments in technology, but you should at least make an effort to do so. After all, you don’t want a data breach to cost you a fortune or tarnish the reputation of your company.