7 Major Causes of a Data Breach

7 Major Causes of a Data Breach

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Data Breach

Data Breach has created a new uproar in the world of cybersecurity. It has become the talk of every town with almost 1,378,509,261 data records breached since 2016. In the following sections, we shall be shedding light on some of the common types of data breach and the major causes of a data breach.

One of the most infamous data breach to have adorned the wall of shame is the Yahoo data breach that affected nearly 3 billion user accounts! And the stakes of these numbers multiplying manifold in the next such instance of identity theft are really high.

Did you know that 44 data breaches are occurring every single second even as you read this article?

Most organizations consider themselves safe from the different types of data breach that one is susceptible to. They assume that they have sound firewalls in place or presume themselves to be too small an entity to be attacked. However, one must remember that no target is small for hackers for an identity theft or ransomware attack. As long as personal information is available for harvesting, no protection is impregnable for these maliciously ingenious minds!

What constitutes a Data Breach?

Any unauthorized access or possession of personal information can be classified as a data breach. This includes identity theft by means of cybercrimes as well as theft of device such as a laptop, mobile etc. containing the “personal information”.

The definition of “personal information” varies from one country’s laws to the other. Some laws apply to the theft of ‘computerized data’ only whereas some include the theft of paper documents containing personal information also as a case of a data breach.

The recent data breach incident doing the rounds is the one involving Facebook. Facebook Inc. is currently under the scanner due to allegations of identity theft of about 50 million Facebook users. These data misuse claims have subjected the firm to a loss of 30 billion dollars of market cap, a 7% sharp fall in its share value and a rigorous investigation in the US and EU.

7 Major Causes of a Data Breach

So without any further ado, let’s delve into the 7 major causes of a data breach. The following section shall also educate you on the common types of data breach.

1. Human Error

Human error accounts for one of the major causes of a data breach. Statistics reveal that more than half of the data breaches are a result of an inadvertent human error!

Data breach due to human error includes instances such as sending an email to the wrong recipient, loss of paperwork or responding to a request by disclosing some confidential information by mistake.

While one may not realize, naïve actions such as these can jeopardize the company’s name and cost the company heavily in terms of indemnity charges. Thus, it’s about time that you take the review of the recipients of your mail more seriously!

2. Physical Theft/Loss of Device

Physical theft or loss of the device is one of the second most common types of a data breach. This form of a data breach can be categorized into two segments – intentional and malicious. Every day, there are countless cases of the sheer negligence of employees in unintentionally sharing passwords, losing their laptops, storage device, papers or phones in trains/buses/cafes.

Additionally, one cannot be ignorant of the cases when the theft or loss of the device or confidential paperwork involved a well-planned malicious angle. This form of a data breach can be the trickiest to handle.

This is because multiple types and volumes of data are made vulnerable once a device is lost or stolen.

3. Phishing

In spite of the growing menace of cyber-attacks, not many exercise necessary caution while clicking on links from unknown sources. This is the reason why phishing accounts for nearly 43% of the data breaches worldwide. It is one of the pressing causes of a data breach.

Often, users fall prey to phishing in spite of being vigilant as the malicious links used to deceive them are disguised. Once such a link is clicked, it may result in the compromise of the entire data in the system.

Businesses, therefore, should diligently train their employees to exercise adequate caution and identify such suspicious links before inadvertently clicking them.

4. Stolen/Weak Credentials

Have you used just used ‘123456’ or ‘password’ as your password? Or ‘starwars’, ‘monkey’, ‘iloveyou’, ‘whatever’, ‘letmein’ or ‘freedom’?

These are some of the most commonly-used passwords in 2017?

Sequential numbers, predictable words, date of birth and other such personal information are the easiest choices for a password but serve no purpose.

Cracking passwords is often a cakewalk for seasoned cyber conmen. But, keeping your passwords predictable and weak can rob you of even the remote chances of securing your online data from identity theft.

Not enforcing security policies on mobile devices and mismanagement of access policies are also major contributing factors in the different types of data breach that an enterprise is susceptible to.

5. Application/OS Vulnerabilities

Not many pay a serious heed to abstain from using pirated software at home or at work. However, using pirated or outdated software/browser can put you a notch higher on the target list of hackers.

Cybercrimes are becoming more sophisticated with every passing day. You and your online data are more vulnerable to a data breach/identity theft if you are using software that is not updated regularly or patched, or running applications that are defectively coded.

6. Malicious Cyber Attacks

With the whole digital transformation that the world is experiencing at present, newer forms of cyber-attacks are emerging every day. And it isn’t going to stop anytime soon! As long as data is available online to be harnessed, cybercrimes such as ransomware, malware and other forms of virus attacks shall continue to appear in this list as one of the major causes of a data breach.

Ransomware is the latest fad in the cyber threat landscape with the year 2017 experiencing some really serious ransomware attacks on some of the most highly-secured entities across the globe!

7. Social Engineering

The present-day tech-savvy humans are a gullible race. They are cognizant of the most sophisticated technology hacks but fail to recognize the traps that are conveniently laid out for them by exploiting their online gullibility. They are easily engineered into exchanging data in return for exciting rewards or other offers, exposing themselves and their businesses to different types of data breach.

Combating Data Breach with Incognito Forensic Foundation (IFF Lab)

Incognito Forensic Foundation is a private forensic lab that has created a strong foothold in the strata of digital forensics, data protection, and cybersecurity. Headquartered in Chennai and having a pan Indian presence, IFF Lab is committed to securing business-critical information and mitigating cyber crime risks associated with corporate data available on handheld devices.

IFF Lab can assist an organization in mapping their current vulnerabilities and crafting bespoke solutions to avoid identity theft and ransomware attacks. Its state-of-the-art forensic laboratory, coupled with the best-in-class digital forensic experts enables them to recover obliterated data from computers and a wide range of electronic storage devices like pen drives, hard disks, CD/DVD and the like.

IFF Lab for your Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics needs.