Data Breach

What is a data breach?

A data breach is a security incident in which a threat actor gains access to a company’s system data without the knowledge or consent of the organization, typically in order to gain access to confidential records. Other data breaches may be conducted to hijack system controls or wreak general havoc. 

While it may be similar to a cyber incident and other cybersecurity events, a data breach is a security incident that meets specific legal definitions, per state and federal breach laws. They require the notification of affected individuals, regulatory agencies, and credit reporting agencies.

Types of data breaches

Threat actors can use a variety of strategies to achieve several different types of data breaches.These include: 

Phishing/Spear Phishing

This is a common cyberattack that continues to grow in sophistication. Phishing is a form of social engineering in which threat actors impersonating someone send emails to employees with the goal of victims sharing sensitive information with them. Phishing can occur through SMS as well (SMiShing). Spear Phishing is similar, but the threat actor impersonates a known contact of the victim. 

Exploited Passwords

When people ask themselves “what is a data breach?” exploited passwords are often the first thing to come to mind. A data security breach can also occur if a threat actor is able to obtain credentials or exploit weak password credentials to access a network. 

Stolen Hardware

Perhaps the oldest type of data breach, threat actors can gain access to a company’s network by stealing physical hardware, such as computers, phones, and thumb drives.

Malware Attacks

Malware attacks are used to deploy software created by threat actors to wreak havoc on a company’s network and damage protected systems. 

An example of a data breach

What is a data breach example? In 2015 Experian experienced a data breach, in which the personal information of roughly 15 million people was compromised. Threat actors were able to obtain information on T-Mobile customers who had applied for credit checks through the company. The information included names, addresses, and social security, driver’s license and passport numbers.

Attacks to obtain personal information, such as this one, are common. Threat actors are able to use the stolen information to pose as other people in order to commit acts of fraud or sell the information to other cybercriminals.

How to mitigate data breaches

Training your employees on how to identify phishing attacks, prevent the loss of company materials, and on the importance of password hygiene can help limit the factor of human error that often leads to a data breach. However employee training should be a last line of defense.

Being proactive in preventing a breach through external cybersecurity and threat actor engagement will lower the chances of cybercriminals reaching your internal network. The dark web contains information that can aid threat actors in penetrating your company’s defenses. Limiting the information that they have access to means they will have fewer channels at their disposal.

In addition, empowering your employees to limit their information on the dark web by providing privacy protection services can mitigate risks posed by threat actors. Employee information can be used to create more sophisticated phishing attacks or exploit poor passwords based on accessible employee information, such as DOB, relative names, and more.

How to prepare for a data breach

Having a robust cybersecurity network is a great way to mitigate the risk of falling victim to a cyber attack, but many consider it a matter of when, not if a company will experience a data breach, so it’s important to have a breach response plan. According to the IBM Cost of a Data Breach report, companies that experienced a data breach lifecycle of less than 200 days had an average cost of over a million USD less than those that had an average lifecycle over 200 days. 

The first step towards having a solid breach response plan in place is finding an incident response partner that you can look towards when your company experiences an incident. If your incident partner hasn’t offered one already, you should then sign up for a no cost MSA breach solution. This means that you will only have to pay for breach services if you have experienced a breach.

Next, you should create clear roles for members of your company in the event you experience a data breach, so that there is a team prepared to reduce the lifecycle of the breach and ensure that customers have been alerted and taken care of. 

Begin breach mitigation today

ZeroFox provides incident response that will help ensure you are prepared for cyberattacks and with our no cost MSA breach solution you will only have to pay when you experience a data breach. 

Reach out to our response team so that you can take the first step in reducing harm to your business and reputation if a data breach occurs.