Protection of user data is critical for companies and their clients. The protection of data has become absolutely important and there has been strict regulation governing the security of data. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements that companies announce their systems have been breached and pay fines of up to 4 percent of their annual turnover.
A data breach is described as when a cybercriminal manages to infiltrate a data source and steal sensitive information. Data breaches occur when a hacker physically accesses a computer or network or remotely bypasses network security. Data breaches typically target companies where sensitive customer information is stolen.
A data breach operation typically takes the following steps from start to completion.
- Research: The research phase entails the search and finding of weaknesses in the IT security system of a company. Identified weaknesses may be found in the network, systems and even users.
- Attack: The cybercriminals will establish the initial contact through the network or a social attack.
- Network/Social attack: Network attacks constitute a cybercriminal using the infrastructure, system, and application weaknesses to infiltrate a company’s network.
Social attacks are devised by tricking or baiting users or employees in a company into providing access to the company’s network. They will strive to dupe an employee into giving his/her login credentials or into opening a malicious attachment.
- Exfiltration: The final phase is the extraction of confidential company data at which point, an attack will be considered successful.
Prevent Data Breaches
The surest way to prevent data breaches is through a combination of security products and going back to the basics of security. Some of the basic security measures include regular vulnerability and penetration testing, use of reputable malware protection, use of strong passwords that are changed regularly, and finally the application of necessary software patches on all systems. These measures will help prevent intrusion(s) by cybercriminals.
Another critical measure in preventing data breaches is the encryption of sensitive data whether it is stored in the cloud by third parties or stored on an on-site network. Encryption will prevent access of actual data loss even after a successful intrusion by cybercriminals.