A data breach occurs when an unauthorized party gains access to private information. Targeted data includes personally identifiable information (PII) including names, birthdates, financial data, and identification numbers. The impact of a breach can vary but often carries serious consequences for both the individual and the organization responsible for handling the data. Data breach detection is crucial, as the longer it goes on, the more sensitive data an attacker can collect.
What Causes a Data Breach?
A data breach can come from several sources. Considering each cause will help you build a stronger data security plan and help you identify key indicators that an attack is underway.
An Insider Threat
The most common data breach comes from the inside. Anyone with authorized access can leak information. Sometimes the leak is intentional, but often it’s an unintentional mistake. Limiting access to highly sensitive information and monitoring privileged accounts can prevent insider threats. Training against phishing, a common tactic of cybercriminals, helps as well.
Criminals use several methods to gain access to your data.
- Phishing is a social engineering attack designed to trick individuals into providing access to their data or exposing the data itself.
- Malware is a type of software that can be placed into holes in your device’s operating system, software, hardware, network, or servers. Malware can track typing to steal data or lockdown your system and demand a ransom in exchange for unlocking it.
- Physical breaches occur when documents or devices are stolen. Secure and organized records storage limits the loss and theft of your documents. Locking devices behind two-step verification helps prevent unauthorized access. Additionally, shredding and hard drive destruction secure your data when documents and devices are no longer needed.
Vulnerabilities in your security system put your entire organization at risk. Ensuring there are no holes in your company’s cyber and physical security is imperative for data breach detection.
- Passwords should be complex and changed often. Moreover, never store a password anywhere vulnerable to theft. Strict password policies should be placed on restricted accounts.
- Make sure to regularly update and patch systems to avoid any software holes.
- Use two-factor authentication and enable login notifications on your accounts.
- Stay informed on the latest security threats that may apply to your business.
Data Breach Detection Tips
It is not always obvious when a data breach is occurring. Some of the most well-known, well-equipped organizations involved in attacks took months to detect a data breach.
In 2018, the Marriott hotel chain was the target of one of the largest data breaches in history. Hackers gained access to its guest reservation system for nearly five years before detection of the data breach occurred. Approximately 500 million guests’ information was exposed including names, passport numbers, and credit card information.
Creating a strong security system will prevent many attacks. However, strong institutional knowledge about data breach detection helps reduce the amount of compromised data. Here are some key indications that a data breach may be occurring.
Unexpected File Changes
When hackers gain access to a network they often change, delete, or replace critical system files to prevent detection. The changes often happen very quickly and can be difficult to recognize. Your organization will need the technical ability to distinguish between positive, neutral, and negative changes to indicate when to flag this kind of activity.
Locked User Accounts
Locked accounts can be a sign of a successful phishing scam. Therefore, users should immediately contact the IT department or the management service provider if they are locked out when using valid credentials. Multifactor authentication is a crucial extra layer of security for your accounts.
Slow Internet or Devices
Frequent computer crashes or software freezes can be a sign of malware or viruses. Malware uses large amounts of bandwidth, corrupts files, and consumes resources, slowing down your connection. Antivirus programs and IT professionals can typically determine if the slow connection is caused by malware.
Unusual System Behavior or Account Activity
Unusual system behavior to watch out for includes an increase in pop-ups, sudden computer crashes, a slow browser, and suspicious anti-virus warnings. Abnormal account activity includes viewing sensitive information, a high volume of database transactions, file installation anomalies, and sudden permission changes.
Organizations should regularly review account logs, assess permission changes, and implement remote working protocols to monitor activity. Anything that looks out of place is worth double-checking to keep your organization safe.
Unusual Outbound Traffic
High traffic volume can be a sign of criminals using your applications to communicate externally or transferring your data. Monitoring typical traffic patterns can help quickly detect suspicious activity. A sudden surge in spam emails or an unusual increase in new users or visits can also be signs of a breach.
Obvious Device Tampering
If your device continues to run after a shutdown, check the device for signs of tampering immediately. In addition, stop using the device until IT can inspect the situation.
Costs of a Data Breach
The effects of a data breach can be long-lasting damage to reputation, huge financial costs, and more. In fact, the average cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million. Many data breach victims suffer Identity theft, fraud, and ruined credit. Protecting your business and customers is essential in preventing data breach attacks and leaks.
Improve Your Data Breach Detection Today!
Create a data security plan to protect your data with Record Nations. We offer secure records storage, cloud services, and document management systems to keep your data organized and protected. Contact our data management experts by calling (866) 385-3706 or fill out the form to learn more about our options today.