A data breach or data leak is the release of sensitive, confidential or protected data to an untrusted environment. Data breaches can occur as a result of
1- Hacker attack
2- Inside the job by individuals currently previously employed by an organization
3- Unintentional loss or exposure of data.
Data breaches can involve information leakage, also known as exfiltration—unauthorized copying or transmission of data, without affecting the source data. In other cases, breaches incur complete loss of data, which involve hackers encrypting data to deny access by the data owner and asking the money to unencrypting your data.
In other words, in a data breach, hackers or employees release or leak sensitive data. As a result, the data might be lost, or used by perpetrators for various malicious purposes.
Data breaches can have legal consequences and hence closing the loopholes is becoming a big priority for all organizations. It is important to understand that it is not always external elements that are trying to access your data but there can be several other intentional and unintentional things happening within your company that can lead to a data breach.
Some Examples of Data Leaks
Financial data, medical or personal information, personally identifiable information, intellectual property, vulnerable and sensitive information.
Such as first and surnames, mail addresses, street names and house numbers, cities (states, not so much applicable in the Netherlands, but provinces will do), postal codes, phone numbers, websites, links to social media profiles, company names, job descriptions, fax numbers, mail address and password combinations, names of Linkedin connections.
And in my own experience if I want to answer in this question I will say it is all data that can cause harm to its owner, otherwise it will not be useful and the main reason for data leakage is gone. As like expired data like old usernames and passwords.
What Causes Leaks?
The following are common causes of information leaks at organizations.
Insider threats include disgruntled employees, former employees who still retain credentials to sensitive systems, or business partners. They might be motivated by financial gain, commercially valuable information, or a desire for revenge.
Employees can cause maximum damage to the organization since they have access to the data and information. In several cases, the employees would intentionally leak the data to unauthorized people outside the organization for monetary gains or take revenge.
There is no way no control these kinds of data breaches apart from educating the employees against doing it and setting up a structure where other employees can anonymously report any suspicious activity by the others.
Cyber Attacks have become common these days. A more common word for it would be hacking. To put it in words a cyber attack means attacking a computer, network or server with the intention of steal information, alter and delete data causing intentional damage to the other organization.
The most common form of cyberattacks is using malware which captures the user’s sensitive information and uses this information to cause damage to him or his assets. Like at an individual level it can be used to gather a person’s bank login credentials and then used from transferring his money to other accounts. Some malware can help you get complete control over the other system, such that it can perform tasks under your command.
Errors in the software All kinds of software malfunctions occur all the time. When a vulnerability appears, the protected files risk becoming intercepted by a hacker. It is important to promptly identify all malfunctions in the installed software and hardware components. The security administrator is responsible for the operability and interaction of all protection modules.
Hackers who are set on hacking into a system will often exploit vulnerabilities. it is ranked as one of the top reasons sensitive information is leaked.
As a result, employees who work on security should use applications that can scan through the system. They can then identify any vulnerabilities and make work so that the data is heavily guarded and secured.
Phishing, Spyware, Keyloggers
As mentioned above, phishing is a common way to gain access to people’s information. Weak passwords combined with phishing schemes make hacking into a computer to leak data easy.
Phishing occurs when a website pops up asking a user for their login information for their bank, database or other sensitive sites. If you input your information and do not change the password, this can put your company’s data at risk.
Your company should both use two-step authentication and change passwords on a monthly, if not weekly basis.
After all the Cyberattacks on all of the world has revealed how vulnerable global systems are to cybercriminals and bad actors. Cyberattacks have surged, with a reported 400% increase in attacks since the pandemic, and a 278% increase in leaked U.S. government records.
Cyberattacks didn’t just increase in terms of volume, they also grew in scale, potency and wide impact, particularly in the public sector. We Heard them on the name: SolarWinds, Microsoft Exchange and most recently Colonial Pipeline all have shown not just how vulnerable we can be, but how crucial it is to make structural changes to our digital landscape to ensure our future security.