Data breaches are a much more common occurrence than they used to be, with tech criminals continuing to develop new technologies that can maneuver around firewalls and other security measures.
Ultimately, a data breach means that protective measures have failed, allowing unauthorized access to sensitive data that can severely compromise many individuals. Data such as private emails, online transactions, health records, and bank account information can all fall in the wrong hands with a data breach.
There are several factors that can make a data breach worse and open the door for future incidents, leaving sensitive customer and employee information vulnerable to exploitation.
Fear of Negative Publicity
One of the reasons a business might deny a data breach occurred is because of the poor public image it can create; a data breach means that security measures are inadequate, causing prospects, customers, and employees to develop distrust.
At the same time, a company’s failure to communicate a data breach to customers can ruin their reputation and cause these customers to turn elsewhere for the same services or products. Poor security measures that fail to protect customer information can also result in noncompliance issues that culminate in fines and sanctions.
In most cases, detection of data breaches takes too much time to be effective. It can take several months or even years before a company learns about an intrusion, with Mandiant Consulting’s “M-Trends 2016” report finding the median detection time in 2015 to be around 146 days.
Half of the intrusions in the report were detected internally, while the other half were detected by outside sources. The fact that this many companies have failed to detect data breaches internally indicates a serious lack of security integrity.
The reasons for this slow detection include the continuing evolution of intruders and their breaching methods, along with companies’ lack of sufficient understanding of the activities taking place on their networks.
Causes of Data Breaches
There are many different types of data breaches and methods for conducting them, including:
- Credit/debit card skimmers who can use everyday devices and innovative software to swipe card strip data
- Physical theft or loss of devices holding unprotected sensitive data
- Failure of the user to secure data, either from weak security controls or errors such as misspelling email addresses and storing private data on public unsecured networks
- Attacks on external applications that hold sensitive data
- Insider breaches resulting from misuse of insider privileges to access private information
- Crimeware and espionage typically associated with groups of attackers who perform complex mass breaches on large organizations
How to Effectively Prevent Data Breaches with Account Protection
The best way to ensure that attackers can’t easily access sensitive information is to implement effective account protection measures. This includes using strong passwords that are difficult to hack along with two-factor authentication. This authentication process entails notifying administrators of attempted and failed logins, temporarily disabling the account if there are too many login failures.
Businesses should also encourage users to change passwords if a breach is suspected, enabling password resets. Users should have the ability to review and only allow account access for certain approved devices.
Other ways to make sure sensitive data is secure is to continue to monitor IT infrastructures, preserve disabled accounts and monitor their use, and monitor dumpsites.
With steps such as these in place, businesses can better maintain account protection and keep sensitive data safe at all times for customers and employees.