Why do Data Breaches Happen?

Data breaches. Simply mentioning them is enough to get many people on edge. Security infringement actions that make sensitive data vulnerable are a big problem for both individuals and commercial entities. In the case of the former, the risks to finances and identity are high. Customers may find their bank accounts drained or find out many accounts have been started in their name. While not impossible to solve, identity theft is notoriously difficult to get through and can cause a significant amount of stress. For business, it can signal a loss of reputation, and in extreme cases, companies never recover from the event. Apart from the effect on sales, there’s also the problem with the costs needed to mend the breach. If you’re an entrepreneur running a small business or a start-up, this can significantly damage your finances.

But why are data breaches so common? What are the reasons that allow them to happen? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you keep your data safe and sound, and if you’re a business owner, it can make a significant difference between whether your business succeeds or fails. Let’s have a closer look.

Malicious attacks

Unsurprisingly, hacker attacks are one of the chief reasons why data breaches happen. In recent years online shopping has become more prevalent, with more and more customers placing orders online instead of going to the stores in order. While this has contributed to the overall growth of the retail market and has enabled shoppers to purchase items from all sides of the world that they previously wouldn’t have had access to, it has also meant an increasing reliance on digital solutions. In turn, this has meant that a growing number of hackers have begun targeting online stores, computers and databases to extract sensitive information.

Malware enters computers through hacked or fake websites or infected files you download. It can strike both individual computers and business ones. In the case of the latter, the damage is all the greater because workplace computers are often connected to allow for the easier streamlining of data. But when a data breach strikes, it’s a vulnerability. That’s because the malware can travel through all devices and do much more damage in the process.

To protect yourself from malware, avoid downloading files from unknown sources, install strong antivirus and don’t skip the updates. If you identify malware in your system, you must take the appropriate steps that remove it immediately. Failing to do so in due time means the virus will spread and infect more files. Prompt action is needed immediately so that a potential data breach can be stopped in its tracks.

Human error

The other most common cause of a data breach is human error. If all security measures are well in place but data leaks somehow, the guilt most likely lies with an employee who made a mistake. This can range from sending an email containing personal information to the wrong address to the misuse of systems. For this reason, employees can potentially become the weakest link in the data security chain unless they receive the proper training that enables them to avoid these mistakes.

In some cases, employees may also be unaware of the dangers lurking online, which means their computer can become infected with a phishing or ransomware virus that then branches out to the whole system. The average cost of solving a phishing attack can amount to millions; if you own a medium-sized business, this amount of money can cause you to file for bankruptcy. To avoid situations like this, ensure your employees have the proper training that makes them less likely to commit errors that jeopardize the safety of the whole business. If they’re not digitally literate upon entering your company, provide them with training yourself.

If your data has been exposed as a result of negligence, you are within your rights to file for data breach compensation in the UK. Since data breaches are typically destructive events that can cause psychological distress as well as financial damage, you are entitled to recompense. To ensure your case stands the best chance in court, you have to provide the necessary proof that showcases the business didn’t respect their duties towards you. If your prospects are good, a No Win No Fee solicitor will start working on your case immediately, so you can benefit from the maximum amount of compensation that’ll help you regain control of your life.

Denial-of-service attacks

DoS is a class of severe cyber attacks that can last anywhere from a few hours to a few months and cause massive financial trouble for companies. This is due to both the efforts necessary to stop the attack and the money you lose while your goods and services are unavailable to customers. There are generally two main types of DoS attacks, flooding services or crashing them. The first means that the system receives traffic overload that causes servers to stop buffering, whilst hackers send information that triggers a crash during the latter. Both result in legitimate users, whether employees or customers, being unable to reach the services they want.

Depending on their motivation, attacks can be grouped as personal, criminal or political. Personal attacks typically occur when a discontented employee seeks retribution for perceived wrongdoings and, as such, steals data or money from the company. In some cases, they may only desire to disturb the company’s systems and cause financial problems that way. On the other hand, criminally-motivated attacks chiefly seek financial gain. In the case of sociopolitical attackers, also known as hacktivists, the purpose is to draw attention to their causes.

Denial-of-service attacks are difficult to avoid, so it’s best to have a reliable response plan in place in case you’re ever confronted with one. Some warning signs include poor connectivity and performance, frequent crashes, unusual traffic or sudden spikes in traffic, and high demand for an endpoint.

In our highly digitalized era, cybersecurity has ceased to be optional and has instead gone a step further to become a necessity. Failing to adequately protect it results in significant damage for all parties involved.

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