The Reason for the Occurrence of Data Breaches

Data Breaches

Data breaches in information technology are the reason why privacy should be considered. Cybercriminals and scammers usually target organizations in order to obtain private information from individuals and businesses. Typically, these criminals use the illegally obtained information to commit identity theft, which they can use to blackmail the individuals, or they may even sell the information for a good amount in the black market (Buchan, 2018). Therefore, individuals and organizations need to understand what data breaches are and how they occur in order to safeguard their data using advanced data protection mechanisms.

Data breaches are not a new occurrence, but the means of perpetrating such breaches have considerably evolved over the years. The leaking of important information, especially with the computer age, has always been an issue of concern. However, the effectiveness and the speed with which this vice occurs, as well as the potential magnitude of harm that may be caused, is disturbing (Corera, 2018). A data breach can be defined as a technological security incident in which the perpetrator accesses information without authorization. Such unauthorized access to crucial information can harm individuals and organizations in numerous ways and can affect the reputation and lives of such persons. As the technology keeps changing, people and organizations are continually using and storing information digitally. As such, there have been increasing cases of cyber-attacks.

The Reason for the Occurrence of Data Breaches

Cybercrime is considered a profitable activity for scammers and hackers. The number of hackers is continuing to grow every day as more and more people are becoming computer literate. Usually, hackers steal personal identities and other private information and sell it over the black market. There are numerous reasons why data breaches can occur, and here are some of them:

Misusing Framework Vulnerabilities

Using obsolete programming methods can leave an opening that will provide a leeway for the hackers to sneak malware into a computer to steal valuable information. Most of the hackers may gain access to a person’s computer through sending emails with malware and upon opening such mail, one becomes vulnerable to data breaches.

Weak Passwords

Having a weak password on one’s device may make it easy for programmers to hack and steal information. This happens especially when the password contains expressions or entire words without special characters. This is the reason why technological security specialists advise against using necessary passwords instead of complex ones.

Web Downloads

A person may unintentionally download malware or a virus from a compromised web page. A malware will typically take advantage of a browser with an expired security to install itself on the computer and the hackers can use it to mine information.

Malware Attacks

Cyber criminals may use phishing emails and spam strategies to attempt to trick the client into revealing the personal accreditations, downloading malware connections, or guiding the user to compromised web pages. Usually, emails are a typical getaway for malware to end up in one’s computer. Therefore, it is important to desist from opening any connections, particularly emails with connections from suspicious sources (Buchan, 2018). This is because doing so will be the surest way of allowing malware into the computer. Moreover, it is always important to remember that an email can appear to have come from a legitimate source when in reality, it is a phishing email or a spam.

Data breaches may occur as a result of targeted attacks from cyber criminals or by a complete accident caused by human error, for instance, a person misplacing a smartphone or a laptop.

There are three stages by which a data breach occurs and they are:

Research

After the cybercriminal has picked his/her aim, the next step is to identify the loopholes that can be used to attack the victim’s computer or smartphone. This entails conducting an extensive research over a period of time to look for potential weak links within the organization or the individual. The criminal stalks the victim’s communication profiles and in the case of an organization, he/she finds the kind of framework present.

Staging the Attack

After researching the weaknesses of the victim, the cybercriminal either launches a system-based assault or via a social one. In a system assault, the cybercriminal uses the weaknesses in the victim’s foundation toaccess the system. These weaknesses may integrate, yet not constrained to SQL infusion, session commandeering, and vulnerability abuse. On the other hand, a social assault entails the cybercriminal using social designing in order to penetrate the victim’s system (McCandless, 2012). Usually, this may comprise of malevolently created email sent to one of the staff in an organization, tailored to obtain that particular person’s information. The email could be a phishing email where the user is trapped into providing private data to the sender or one that may be conjoined with malware.

Exfiltrate

Once the cybercriminal has gained access into the system, he/she gains the power to edit, copy, or even delete information from the organization’s system wherever he/she likes. This information stolen might be used for either blackmail or even to taint the reputation of an individual orthe organization (Kovacs, 2014). Similarly, it may result in the cybercriminal having a lot of information that they may use to harm the individual or the organization.

Ways to Safeguard Data in the Evan of a Data Breach

To ensure that data is kept secure, it is essential to find better ways of keeping the crucial data safe. The following are the proposed means of keeping data safe:

Using Secure and String Passwords

It is always advisable to ensure that the password being used is unique and strong. Strong passwords are difficult to bypass and this means that your data will be safe. Intricate passwords ensure that hackers will not be able to access the system. Additionally, it is always important to use a password manager in order to avoid using the same password for all your online accounts.

Monitoring One’s Online Financial Accounts

Online financial accounts are the key targets for hackers who aim to steal the financial information. Therefore, specialists insist that people should constantly check their bank records to see if there is any suspicious movement of funds out of the accounts (Krausz, 2014). Moreover, if the banking organization provides any movement cautions in forms of emails o messages, it might be well for an individual to allow such services since they are meant to deter unauthorized transactions.

Check Your Credit Report

One should consistently check whether a cybercriminal has managed to open another credit card or another record in your name. By law, every person is qualified and entitled to a free credit report at least once every month in order to ascertain the credit score.

Secure the Smartphone

In the event that your smartphone does not have a security code, you should set up one. Even though entering a security code every time you need to use the smartphone is repetitive and bothersome, it provides some level of protection against data breach when the device is stolen or lost. If a smartphone gets stolen or lost, a person could lose all the private data if the phone is not locked.

Wipe your Hard Drive

Computers and other electronic devices tend to become obsolete over an extended period of usage. This means that at one point, they will need to be replaced or disposed of. Therefore, in the event of replacing the computer, it is always prudent to wipe the hard drive to avoid other unauthorized people from accessing it.

Use a Credit Monitoring Service or an Identity Theft Protection

The trouble and chaos that arises from a stolen identity could take many months to fix. Considering the increasing numbers of data breaches, it is imperative to consider taking data fraud insurance or joining a credit monitoring administration. Various agencies deal with data protection to ensure that hackers and scammers do not breach data. Such agenciesinclude Norton Security, which uses LifeLock wholesale fraud assurance to ensure there is no information leak when making purchases.

POS System Breach

Most data breaches involve the point of sale terminals at local stores and gas stations. The main aim of a POS breach is to steal the credit or debit card’s unique sixteen-digit numbers. The most affected industries by this breach are mostly restaurants, grocery stores, retail stores, and hotels. The small and medium-sized businesses are the most vulnerable targets of cybercriminals since their accessibility by these criminals is smooth and generally, they have poor policies and security, unlike in larger corporations (Kovacs, 2014). The POS systems that are used are basically the normal computers that run Microsoft Windows, which means that they are susceptible to similar threats that other normal computers are vulnerable to. The debit or credit card data is usually stored in the PC and unencrypted for the payment to be processed. Hence, if malware finds its way into the system, the hackers can access the payment information remotely and use it to steal your money.

Apart from transactional purposes, most of the POS computers are also used by the personnel to surf the internet, checking emails, and even for interacting on social media platforms during their free time. Thus, this means that malware can be spread to the POS computers through email phishing and social engineering, usually sent as malware in email attachments or even embedded in malignant links (Corera, 2016). The criminal usually selects the target victim and sends a phishing email that is customized for the target. These attacks are often highly successful due to the lack of important software and security updates on these machines, allowing malware to exploit the outdated and unpatched security susceptibility in the system’s software.

Even though smaller entities might be an easier target, the cybercriminals also target the more substantial corporations where they may rip better loots. It only takes more research and accessibility on the part of the attacker to successfully launch an attack on a larger organization. Usually, these larger chains have numerous POS systems in multiple points that are linked to the main server. Therefore, there is no doubt that there are many ways that attackers can use to gain access to a corporate network, such as sending phishing emails with malware to members of staff within the organization (Buchan, 2018). Once the malware has entered a machine within the organization’s network, then it will infect the other computers and eventually making its way to the Point of Sale.

It is important to regularly monitor your financial accounts and credit reports, as well as any other financial accounts for suspicious activity. If the financial companies that you transact with provide activity alerts, then you should sign up for them. Upon realizing any fraudulent activity in the financial accounts, one should contact the financial institution as soon as possible. When one encounters a data breach, it is advisable to collect as much information about the violation as possible. A person should also try to find out the kind of data breach involved and what company the breach happened. Depending on the kind of data breach, it is more likely that credit card information, identity, username, and password were stolen too.

Any notices of a data breach should be treated with utmost urgency, especially if it comes from the bank. Once a vulnerable organization has communicated to the clients about the possibility of a data breach, one should follow instructions that they suggest to the customers. Being a consumer with a company that has experienced a data breach calls for the cancellation of any transactions from the bank account and credit cards (Buchan, 2018). Even when a person has not experienced any fraudulent activity on the bank account, it does not mean that everything is in order. The cybercriminals may decide to lie low to avoid suspicion then they might later use the credit card information obtained. While it appears that data breaching incidences have become too frequent nowadays, there are still means through which people can shop normally and safely. Currently, there are anti-fraud laws in place to protect people against data breaches. Nevertheless, in order to enjoy this protection, it is up to every person to stay alert and report any suspicious incidences on time.

Cyber Espionage

Cyberspace has continued to evolve, but at the same time, the threats being encountered have become more advanced and sophisticated. The outcome of this situation is the bifurcation of the threats into disturbing cyber attacks that have become rampant. In the previous years, a more complex taxonomy has formulated and cyber threats now range from cyber war, cyber espionage, cyber terrorism, and cyber-crime which has emerged as a specific concern for the international community.

Cyber espionage is a bit sophisticated since it does not simply involve sending malware to a computer. It is a modern form of data breaches which involves the attackers carefully choose their target and the data they need or the one they intend to cause harm to (McCandless, 2012). Sometimes, acyber espionage attack is not only about the attacker hacking the victim’s computer system. The attacker may choose to find a weakness within an organization and take advantage of it. Some of the time, these attacks need human component of social building to in order to succeed.

Keep Information Safe

Protect Your Passwords

If a cybercriminal takes a few to get some composure from your email address or username back to a record that you hold, they can use extraordinary devices to try and “split” your secret key. Strengthen your secret key by ensuring it is a solid one (Krausz, 2014). Make sure you use a mixture of capitalized letters, images and numbers, overlook words found in the lexicon, and positively don’t go through any near-home data to make the secret sentence. Also, do not reuse a similar secret sentence on different destinations. When accessible, try to use two-factor confirmation.

Try Not to Fall for Phishing

Teach yourself about the dangers of phishing attacks. Realize what to watch out for, how to differentiate caricature messages.

Secure your Software

Once accessible on most of the projects you use, perform ordinary programming refreshments continuously. Leaving obsolete programs can leave openings through which aggressors can sneak malware.

Shield you Online Networking Accounts

As previously mentioned, assailants will inquire about their goals, so make sure that protective settings for your web-based life accounts are in line. Try not to allow any recognizable data to be perceptible to the general society, and be suspicious of people who reach you that you have no clue.

 References

Krausz, M. (2014). Managing information security breaches studies from real life. Cambridgeshire, England: IT Governance Publishing.

McCandless, D. (2012). Information is beautiful. Collins.

Kovacs, N. (2014). POS Malware Data Breaches and Why They Keep Happening. Retrieved from https://community.norton.com/en/blogs/norton-protection-blog/pos-malware-data-breaches-and-why-they-keep-happening

Buchan, R. (2018). Cyber espionage and international law. Oxford, UK: Hart, an imprint of Bloomsbury.

Corera, G. (2016). Intercept: The secret history of computers and spies. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

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